One year ago this month, I retired.
To celebrate this “Retire-Versary” (is that a word?), I decided to break my sabbatical long enough to add a “One Year Update” update to my Retirement Reality Series, a thread dedicated to sharing what it’s really like to go through the transition to retirement.One year ago this month, I retired. Today, I'm sharing the biggest lesson I've learned in my first year of retirement. Click To Tweet
The Retirement Reality Series
- What The First Week of Retirement is Really Like
- The First 60 Days of Retirement
- 6 Lessons From The First 6 Months of Retirement
- The Biggest Lesson From my First Year of Retirement (this post)
- Life After FIRE (18 months)
- What I’ve Learned From 2 Years of Retirement
- Four Lessons From Four Years of Retirement
Below are links to the previous posts in this series:
The Retirement Reality Series:
- Part I: What The First Week Of Retirement Is Really Like
- Part II: The First 60 Days Of Retirement
- Part III: 6 Lessons From The First 6 Months Of Retirement
- Part IV: The Biggest Lesson From My First Year Of Retirement (today’s post)
The Biggest Lesson From My First Year Of Retirement
We’re currently in the middle of our Great American Road Trip, and it’s ironic that we arrived in Washington State on the evening of my one year Retire-versary. My first morning in Washington State was exactly one year from my last day of work. That irony wasn’t apparent to me at the time, but it was revealed as I thought about what I wanted to share on this first anniversary of my retirement.
If I had to boil the first year down into one simple message, what would be The Biggest Lesson From My First Year Of Retirement?
A hefty challenge for a man on sabbatical, but one worth tackling.
I took my brain out of neutral for sufficient time to answer the question, and today’s post was born. I’m going to keep it short because the lesson is a simple one. Simple, but important.
Then, I’m going to put my brain back into neutral to continue this wonderful sabbatical. For the record, we’re enjoying it fully. As you read these words, my wife and our 4 dogs are working our way around The Olympic Penisula (follow us on Instagram if you like pics).
I look forward to writing to you all again when I return home this Fall. From my brief sabbatical respite, here’s the biggest lesson from my first year of retirement…
The Milestones Of Life…
As I thought about what I’d learned in my first year of retirement, I thought about the major milestones I’ve achieved in my life:
- Graduation From High School
- Graduation From College
- The First Day On A Job
- Home Ownership
- The Birth Of A Child
- The Death Of A Parent
- Becoming Debt Free
What I realized is that retirement has a lot in common with these other “Life Milestones”. Like retirement, these milestones are typically ones which we plan for over an extended period of time. They’re also typically achieved on a single date. We know the date of our marriage. We know the date of our children’s births.
We know the date of our retirement.
Life Goes On
As I looked back on the “Before vs. After” of life after each of these major milestones, I realized they also share a similar theme around continuity.
After we achieve these major life milestones, we find that Life Goes On.
Sure, life after Marriage is different than life as a single person. But life goes on.
Life with children is a lot different than life without. But life goes on.
An analogy from our current Great American Road Trip comes to mind as I write these words. On our trip, we recently arrived in the Pacific Northwest after an enjoyable month of slow travel across this great country. Arriving at our destination was a major milestone of our journey, just as retirement is a major milestone in our lives. We’re currently in the midst of an extended visit with our daughter’s family and our wonderful new granddaughter.
We’ve Reached Our Destination.
Life is good.
But…in a matter of weeks, we’ll once again be hooking our 5th wheel onto the back of our truck and hitting the road. Why? Because life goes on.
Milestones are just that. Milestones.
Life Doesn’t Stop Because Of A Milestone
As I thought about it, the irony of the sunset on our first day in Washington, exactly one year to the day from my last day of work, became clear.
The sun sets on one day.
The sun rises on the next.
Life Goes On.
Just as with the birth of a child, life is a lot different now that I’m retired. Just as with marriage, life is better after having achieved this particular milestone. Life was good before, and life is good after.
Life is often better after we achieve major milestones, but it’s still life. Life goes on.
A few brief takeaways from this “Biggest Lesson From My First Year Of Retirement”:
- Don’t sacrifice all of your “today’s” in a desperate quest to get to retirement.
- Focus on contentment, your life will be better as a result.
- Savor The Present, even while you’re still working.
- Enjoy the days you’re given.
- Spend time in your final years of work thinking about what you want your life to be after retirement.
When you retire, you wake up to a new sunset, just like you did after achieving earlier milestones.
Without a doubt, retirement is a wonderful life.
But life goes on.
This “biggest lesson” seems a bit anti-climatic to me, but that’s exactly the point. This Retirement Reality Series has followed the emotional adjustment of life after retirement. Initially, there’s a strong emotional “high”, which lasts for months. Eventually, however, you adjust to your new reality. I’m fully enjoying every aspect of life in retirement, but I’m finding after my first year of retirement that this lifestyle has become the new normal.
And the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of enjoying whatever your “normal” is, regardless of where you are in life.
Life’s too short to live it any other way.
Your Turn: Do you agree with the importance of enjoying your life as you live it, or are there other lessons you’ve learned which are more important? BTW, how ironic that the very first post I wrote on this blog was about Contentment. 4+ years later, and it’s still an important theme on this blog, and in my life.
Let’s chat in the comments…