Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Retirement What You Expected?

100_3253.JPG by klsterndahl
Sunrise at Zihuatanejo - nothing to do with today's blog, but I thought you might like it.
I've been talking to some of my friends lately about the difference between what they expected retirement to be like and the reality of it.  Generally, not much about retired life is what they thought it would be.

Some thought they would be living somewhere else or splitting their time between here and somewhere else. The guys expected to be hunting and fishing and traveling the world, while the women pictured stress-free lives with lots of time for hobbies and travel. 

Most find their lives to be busier than they thought and still too stressful. A few were surprised by health issues that they didn't expect at such a young age. Some had found unexpected new love, but others had been in long-term relationships that didn't survive retirement. There is some disappointment, but they are all young still (early 50's to 66) with time to change what they don't like.

So I asked them what they would like to change, if they could. A few wish they didn't own property so they wouldn't feel as tied down as they do, or wish they still had property in the states so they could easily travel back and forth. Of course everyone has health issues, large or small, that we would like to see go away. Many hope to travel more in the future. The women are struggling to keep a bit of independence - some breathing space - while the men seem to want to hold on tighter.

Finally, we talked about the changes they would have made in the past if they had known what they know now. Relationships were a hot topic.  Some would have worked harder to hold a relationship together while others would have divorced or never married. Almost everyone wished they had saved more money. A couple wished they had followed career dreams that had fallen by the wayside.

While the past can't be changed now, there is still hope for the future.  The two main obstacles that I can see are not quite believing that they can make the changes and the need to have a serious discussion with a mate.  It may seem easier to just keep plodding along like we have been, but that's not how we will fulfill our retirement dreams.

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