A Retirement Trial Run

A Retirement Trial Run

I’m on vacation in the Outer Banks this week and I was planning to skip a week of writing the blog, but I couldn’t help myself.

Something surprised me prior to leaving for our trip. Before we started the long drive, my wife informed me that I haven’t taken a full week off since my youngest son was born – he is almost three. Before I get emails about needing more work/life balance, anyone who knows me well knows it’s just about impossible to get ahold of me once I’m home because when I’m home, I am 100% dad until my boys are in bed. Plus, we’ve taken plenty of small trips, just nothing a full week long.

Also, I absolutely love what I do. I love my client work and I love writing for you, my dear reader. So, work isn’t really work for me. I truly love it.

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

As I talk with clients and prospective clients alike, a primary conversation we have over and over again is what they expect to do with their time once they retire.

I’ve written about this before – What To Do In Retirement?

But as I sit here on a Tuesday night and I’ve only been “off” since Friday, I really do find it difficult to 100% unplug. So, I can only imagine what retirement truly feels like especially early on in the first few weeks and months of retirement. It is harder than most people originally thought.

The only way to learn what retirement truly feels like is to live it. Having someone describe what retirement is like is not an effective substitute for living it but I believe you can prepare to some degree and that’s what I want to talk about.

When asked what most retirees plan to do in retirement, the number one answer I hear (by far) is travel.

At this point, I almost expect the answer. If this is you, I have to ask – what do you plan to do during the other 48 weeks a year?

Retirement is not a long vacation. It’s a complete change of lifestyle.

You no longer have emails piling up waiting for you, which initially feels like a blessing until you realize you’re no longer “needed.” Organizations adapt and move on no matter how indispensable you feel.

From what I hear from those I have the pleasure of serving, this is an all too common feeling upon retirement. A loss of importance or at least the feeling you’re no longer important. Which of course you still are on a personal level; organizations just move on because they are forced to.

I won’t re-hash what I’ve already written on this topic from the article above, but my point here is simple – you need to establish a plan for what to do with your time.

The Retirement Trial Run

One easy-to-implement idea is to take a longer-term true vacation (or a few) in the five years leading up to retirement. Maybe two or three weeks at a time if you’re lucky enough to have plenty of vacation saved up.

There are only two rules during that two or three-week vacation – (1) You are not allowed to do anything job related whatsoever and (2) You cannot take a trip. Think of it as a retirement trial run for what the majority of your years in retirement might be like.

These days we’re expected to be available even when we’re on vacation. So, it’s important to clear this with your superior prior to your time off. Do whatever you need to do to make this happen. Help them to understand why you’re doing this. You might even explain how this helps the organization because it will help identify and fine-tune processes that need to be put in place prior to your retirement.

Anything you have to do to be 100% unplugged.

This might be the only way to understand what retirement might actually feel like. You have to live it, plain and simple.

You may find this to be an amazing experience or that you’re not as interested in retirement as you thought at this time. Any outcome is a good outcome.

If you’ve done this, I’d love to hear about your experience! Hope this helps!

Related Reading:

A Letter to Grandparents

What To Do In Retirement?

Now, back to my vacation. Until next week.

Thanks for reading!

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