#18 Learn From Those Who Have Gone Before

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Congrats On Retirement

A good friend of mine retires in 17 days.

He’s probably reading this now, along with the rest of you. (You know who you are, you lucky dog!).

I think he can teach all of us something. I’ll be watching, and writing, as he goes through the transition. A month from now he’ll be backpacking on a 300+ mile journey. What a great way to clear your mind from decades of work, and prepare for the road ahead. I’ll ask him to write a guest blog at some point.

I’ve watched others go through the same transition, but I’m paying more attention now. As my retirement horizon shortens, I’m much more aware as another friend or coworkder departs the workplace. I wish we all had a better means of tapping into the “lessons learned” by those who have gone before us, as I suspect there is much we could learn. I realize at some point it will be me who is making that “last walk” out the workplace door. I hope I can influence those who follow behind, much as I’ve been influenced by those who have gone before. The Retirement Manifesto will, hopefully, capture some of my learnings for the benefit of all.

Retirement is a fascinating time of transition in life. It’s interesting how our perception of retirment changes through our lives.

The first time I recall being impacted by a retirement was in my first year of working after college. “Junior” was a 67-year old man who worked in my office. I was the 22 year old “kid”. Junior was one of those guys who learned long ago how to avoid stress. He was the most relaxed man I’ve ever met. He played saxophone, and didn’t really work too hard. He was the epitomy of “cool”. I remember thinking that he’d been working twice as long as I’d been alive. I wondered if I’d be working when I was his age.

And then he was gone.

It wasn’t a big deal to me. There one day, gone into retirement the next. I didn’t really know him, so I didn’t really miss him. I certainly didn’t understand the planning that had likely gone into his retirement decision, and I didn’t appreciate how big a transition he was entering.

In my 30’s, I started seeing many relatives go through the transition. Being family, these started making a bigger impression on me. I watched as my own father went through retirement, only to be called back to work six months later when some vacancies required his assistance. I suspect that “yo-yo” threw a real curve ball into his adjustment, but I never really appreciated how significant that must have been. I recall asking an Uncle, who had retired at 55, what advice he’d give to me as I plan for a potential early exit.

Just make sure you’ve saved enough before you leave“, he said. “Because once you leave, you’ll never see a paycheck that large again“.

That was the start of my recognition of the tradeoff between “working longer” to increase your financial security versus “leaving earlier” to live your life to it’s fullest. Leave too late, and you risk having issues which negatively affect your ability to enjoy your newfound freedom. Leave too early, and you risk financial concerns which could do the same. It’s been one of the paradoxes I’ve thought about most frequently ever since my Uncle passed along his advice.

A few years ago, one of my closest friends retired early. That one had an impact on me, as a close friend only a few years older than I was now enjoying the freedom of early retirement. I’m sincerely happy for both he and his wife as they travel part time around the country in their RV. When they’re not on the road, they enjoy their time in a beach community condo they purchased as a downsizing move. We’re heading there this weekend, and I’m looking forward to catching up on their lives. It won’t be too long before we join them, and I enjoy living vicariously through them in the interim. I may ask him to write a guest post, as well.

17 Days, and another of my friends will enter the transition.

Seek out those who have gone before, and learn from them. Seek out those younger than yourself, and teach them. Together, we can all learn and increase our odds of achieving a successful retirement.

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2 comments

  1. What a wonderful surprise, that my life would be of any interest to people outside of my family. While technically 16 days – only 8 more working days as I have decided to take the last week on vacation. It has been a journey to be sure and while the path we have taken to reach our goals may be a little different, the principal fundamentals underlying them is very much aligned to what your blog is about. Thanks for all you do, for being a great friend and for wanting to pass along to others the wisdom God has provided over the years.

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