Retirement gets a bad rap. It conjures images of white hair, rocking chairs, and forgetting where you left your teeth. It reminds you of that man driving ten miles an hour under the speed limit with the turn signal still blinking after a lane change six miles ago. Retirement is just another word for getting old, right?
Wrong. Retirement is actually the fountain of youth. Ok, maybe you won’t literally start aging backwards, but it will feel like you are. Think back to your childhood, to the last day of school before summer break. Remember the thrill of having all those months to do anything you wanted? Well, in retirement you have the whole rest of your life. Here’s why retirement will shave years off your attitude.
No more ties. Only grown-ups wear ties. When you put on that suit each morning, it transforms you. You become a professional, an adult, and let’s face it, old. When you wake up the first day of retirement and find yourself still in your pajamas two hours later, you’ll feel like a kid on Christmas morning, just waiting to unwrap the rest of your life.
Pedaling instead of commuting. Yes, you rode your bike when you were still working, but that was merely for exercise. Now it’s for fun or even to get somewhere. Pedaling through the neighborhood with the wind in your hair transports you back to your youth.
Movies in the middle of the day. Like that kid on summer break, you can catch the bargain matinee on a weekday, except now you can see the R-rated ones without your mom.
Playing just for the sake of playing. Now you can play golf solely for the fun of it, without discussing the latest sales figures with your client. Whether it’s tennis or piano or Sudoku, retirement lets you play purely because you want to, even though it isn’t productive. Productive is a grown-up word. You’re too busy frolicking to care about that.
Taking electives. Kids finger paint to create, not to sell paintings. You’ll join a class just because you want to draw or sing or write. It doesn’t have to further your career or your degree, you have time to learn simply because you’re interested.
Fewer responsibilities. Ever wonder why the president’s hair turns gray within a year of taking office? It’s all that responsibility. Without your job you’ll have a lot less of it. Your gray hairs won’t turn back to black, but you’ll probably slow down on accumulating new ones.
Ditto with stress.
Energy. After a long day at work, you pretty much have the energy to eat dinner and then park yourself in front of the TV for a few hours before going to bed and starting all over again the next day. Without that job to exhaust you, you’ll actually have energy, like when you were young.
Sleep. Part of that energy is because you are no longer operating on six hours of sleep. You’ll sleep in like a teenager until you’re absolutely ready to join the waking world.
Social networking. When you were working you didn’t have time to figure out Facebook or Twitter or texting. You had more important things to do. You don’t anymore. So when you hang with the cool kids on laptops at the coffeehouse, you’ll also be checking for new comments on your most recent blog post.
You’d think that since retirement comes toward the end of your life it would make you feel older, not younger. But it’s not the end of the road. Retirement is the beginning of a new road leading to years of slurping from the fountain of youth.
Sydney Lagier is a former certified public accountant. Since retiring in 2008 at the age of 44, she has been writing about the transition from productive member of society to gal of leisure at her blog, Retirement: A Full-Time Job.