Two years into my retirement and I’m loving it! I finally have the time to put my needs and wants first. After playing the good daughter, sister, partner, wife and mother over many years — always putting other responsibilities and the needs of everyone else first — it was certainly a long time coming.
I’d been working since I was 17 years old in one form or another, and I fell into work roles that suited my other responsibilities. As I matured my employment meant I could help make the 18 per cent interest mortgage rates, support the husband in his own business, and later, to keep a roof over the heads of my daughters and I. I never hated any roles that I worked in and always gave my all, though there was rarely any passion. I never had the chance to chase my dream.
When I was 53 years old I was offered a redundancy and, assuming that was my working life over, I paid out the mortgage and did the rounds of financial advisors, starting with the bank with which I had been a loyal customer since primary school. Although charming and intelligent the bank manager lacked life experience skills and after a little research of my own I ended up changing banks to one that better met my needs.
The free appointment with a superannuation representative from the fund I’d been with for years was equally disappointing with a waiting list six months long. Ridiculous!
After a lovely three-month break doing nothing I wondered if I still had skills I could offer the workforce. I felt a little too young to step away from a structured lifestyle so completely. I applied for, and was offered, a part-time role of 20 hours a week.
The reduced working hours were great as they allowed me the time to set into place some support for when I did stop working completely. I downsized into a house 30 years newer and requiring far less yard maintenance, I enrolled in the local U3A Book Club as well as an online study program, I had a major declutter thereby starting a fresh new life, and I made an effort to expand socially. More importantly, I also researched insurance companies, electricity and utilities to ensure I would get the best bang for my buck.
When I finally retired for good at 59 it was purely because I had had ‘enough’. Friends kept asking me if I was sure I was ready. They thought I was too young.
You know, I was so damn ready. You just know.
I had done my homework, put into place any required changes regardless of their simplicity or complexity, and had absolutely no fear whatsoever. If anything I was more fearful of not having the opportunity to do the things I enjoyed during my time on Earth. To borrow from an ex-Prime Minister, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”. But neither was it meant to be too bloody tough!
I still tend to wake up when the alarm used to go off and that’s okay. There is heaps for me to do during the day and if I slow down early in the afternoon, who cares? I am the convenor of a community library, grow rosemary and frangipanis for a charity, do a little bit here and there for local charities and attend the monthly Starts at 60 meet-ups.
I am enrolled in an online study program, attend a fortnightly workshop, blog, and have an interest in a plethora of things including community theatre, none of which are overly expensive ventures.
I do love to travel and experience new places, and strangely Covid-19 has made it possible to investigate places closer to home that have played a fascinating part in our own history that I might have previously bypassed.
My biggest tip for retirement would be to ‘give things a go’. Retirement is a different stage in our lives, which means that any of our preconceived ideas can also prove different. Try new things, even things that you would never have considered when loaded down with commitments. Look at life the way you did before responsibilities and enjoy. You’ve earned it.
Now in my early-60s I can honestly say that my retirement days are the best days of my life. I’m even getting closer to realising that dream.