I was prepared for everything… except this 91



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In the lead-up to The Big R, I was, like most people, pretty excited about what was to come. I counted down the days I had to get catch the crowded, jerky bus; I fantasised about the unstructured hours and the last-minute getaways; I planned for all the hobbies I would take up.

So if you’d told me that, three weeks after my last day at work, I would be trawling the internet in search of a new job, I wouldn’t have believed you.

But that’s exactly what happened.

For the better part of a year, I put myself “out there” in the humiliating world of job-hunting when you are past retirement age.

It wasn’t until I’d sent out countless CVs, kowtowed to multiple former colleagues and completely destroyed my sense of self-worth that I realise it was not a job I wanted, but an answer to the question, “What do you do?”

For the better part of forty years I had identified myself by virtue of my career. It was so easy to answer THAT question at dinner parties. What do I do? I am a producer. That’s me, that’s what I do, therefore that’s what I am. Right?

Not once when planning my retirement had I planned how I would answer that question when I was no longer someone who helped create stories for the media.

Crunch time came when a bright young recruiter asked if I would consider applying for a much more junior position. “The pay’s not great, but you can work your way up,” she chirped.

At that moment the lightbulb pinged on and I came to my senses. What was I doing here? Why was I wasting my time chasing jobs I would loathe if I actually managed to land them?

Giggling like a madwoman, I tried to explain to the recruitment girl that there was no working one’s way up at my age. That one was sufficiently worked up, and thank you very much for your time and goodbye.

I’d love to say that from that moment on, retirement was a breeze. But, truth is, it was a couple of years before I felt truly comfortable in my new role, or lack thereof.

One by one, I built the foundations of a fulfilling retired life. I replaced work friends with old friends I’d never had time for, and new friends from my community and the activities I now had time to pursue.

At some point I came to the realisation that I was mourning the role of someone who is perpetually useful and, goodness knows, there are plenty of opportunities to be useful out there – it’s just a matter of finding them.

At first I kept my days structured and busy – between yoga, volunteer teaching (which led to some paid tutoring) and a newfound love for cycling – it was easy to do. But things have loosened up as I have.

So how about that tricky question? These days, when someone asks me what I do, I have a standard reply. I say, “All kinds of things! What are you offering?”


Have you ever felt this way? Did you feel lost after retirement, or is it something you worry about for the future? 

Guest Contributor

  1. I am lost.

    5 REPLY
    • Hithi it can be difficult at first. I joined a craft group and have created all sorts of beautiful things. It all depends where you live as tobwhat is available and if you are married and can go walking with husband or partner. We decided to go live at the beach whuch kepr us busy for a while. I tried for jobs but after age 60 they do not want you. I decided to do housework for the weekenders and holiday makers and I was so busy as I had previously been in office work all my working life. Anyway over the years it got easier. Free time for holidays abroad etc. If finances allow. Get out of the house and talk to people. good luck.

    • Haven’t you got friends, family? You could volunteer at your local op shop, join Lions, have you got neighbours?

    • No friends here,don,t know any one here . I will have to get out and about.i find that hard to do. I suffer from depression .

    • So sorry Laura. What about doing a course? Contact your doctor/psychologist and ask if there are any groups you can join. I volunteer at Compeer where they match a volunteer with someone who has a mental illness for companionship. Your psych should be able to steer you in the right direction regarding social groups.

    • Sorry Laura, I hope you find some relief from that. Please try Jeanette’s suggestions and good luck.

  2. I do quite a lot of volunteer work but I have made it clear that I will not be available 52 weeks a year, I like travelling and will go away regularly. I also do a little casual work a couple of times a year. Still have time to catch up, go to films etc with friends.

  3. Loving retirement. I go to gym every day; volunteer at RSPCA; meet friends for lunch/coffee. I am 72.

  4. Must admit retirement is looming and while I am ready I don’t know if I can take the leap of faith just yet.

    2 REPLY
    • Don’t put it off too long Sue. If your health starts to fail as you age you may regret working those extra years and not doing those things from the bucket list when you had the chance.

  5. Took me about six months to adapt. Missed the company for awhile. It’s just an adjustment, time for yourself. Lovely being in charge of your own time.

  6. Yes! That is the essential question,”who am I”? And the answer,of course is, I am so much more than this role I play,and my new life is now exploring the multi faceted me.

  7. Have not hit retirement yet. 5 years away. And I wonder to, what the hell will I do with myself alone with no job?? Frightening.

    5 REPLY
    • When you get closer to retirement, perhaps you could see if you can reduce the days you work. You might find in another 5 years you will actually be ready to retire. If not, just keep working, especially if you enjoy your job.

    • you can volunteer ,your local council will have ideas ,or join groups ,i have been retired 2 years and volunteer at the local op shop

    • All great ideas ladies. Try part time or work or work for as many years as you like. It’s so easy for some and not easy for others, but one thing I know there’s plenty to do and plenty who need help from us, and not enough hours in the day.

  8. still trying to adjust….just need to get out of myself and get more involved with …with…with…yea keep trying …

    1 REPLY
    • I am the same – finding it hard to make new friends after 40 odd years in the workplace. I babysit my grandchildren (which I love) but still feel a little “lost” & can’t seem to decide what to do – thought it would be easy!!

  9. I too am lost and still searching for ‘me’ after 40 years working with beautiful families and children! It’s been 10 months and I too have contemplated returning to the workforce. I have realised though, that would prevent spontaneous and extended trips! The arrival of spring has brought new enjoyment and positive goals! I have so much I can do!

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