Yesterday, I walked out of my office for the final time yesterday. I am now retired, in my forties. Part of me wanted to say, " I'm free, " and the other part of me thought, "So what." After all, I still (hopefully:-) have half my life ahead of me, for the "third phase."
For me, Phase I - Education and Phase II - Working were investments. Phase III - Retirement is the reward. Looking back, I feel I invested well in the first two phases. I studied hard during the education phase and I worked diligently in the working phase. Now, I want to make sure the retirement phase is also successful.
Interestingly, progression within a phase or to a new phase moves from more structure and certainty to less structure and more uncertainty. For example, in grade school the curriculum is essentially fixed. In college, a student needs to choose among a multitude of courses and majors that will set the direction for his or her future. For my work, the objective was to create a competitive advantage to be the best product or service in market. There were never clear or certain solutions. Retirement seems to be even less structured.
So I am going to take some time to engage in this phase and plan the future. Already, we have invested significant time in understanding the financial aspects. Now, I want invest time thinking about what our family will be doing (e.g. lifestyle, continual learning, exciting adventures etc.) over the next few decades. I expect this will be a tremendously fun time :-)
Here are a few elements that I know will be part of the future:
Healthy lifestyle. We will transition to healthier living, especially with respect to exercise. I am currently about 20 pounds heavier than I was as a freshman in college. Five years ago, I was below my freshman weight and had significantly reduced my cholesterol. Now it's back up again. Also, I need to eat better. My wife, who has a BS in Food Science, has long been working to improve daily diet, with low compliance by me. I will be able to stick to it better now.
Preparing our daughter for her future. The future for our children be a challenging one with lots of change and transitions. As a parent, I want to prepare her to be successful on her own. Important skills will including critical thinking capabilities, adaptability, agility and creative problem solving. I hope to give her these skills to build upon her traditional education. To do this, we will also need to participate in the process of continual learning, which I am sure we will enjoy.
Choosing adventures. When I graduated from college, I took an eight week backpacking tour of Europe. My second longest vacation was a two week trip to China for the adoption of our daughter. Although we have taken 10 day vacations to Australia, Thailand, and Alaska, I look forward to extended trips that we will be able to take.
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