The drive from Connecticut to Madison, Wisconsin and back is about 2,400 miles, round trip. With stops along the way, and an overnight in Toledo, Ohio, we’re talking about 40 hours of togetherness in a car. On such a road trip, it’s impossible to think about retirement and the opportunity for endless possibilities.
Why drive when you can fly?
My sister, Shelly, and I did this half-cross country trek earlier in the month. I had to move my younger daughter back to college in Minneapolis. She had a lot of gear, so we decided to drive for the second year in a row. A big plus was that my sister saw this as a fun road trip to visit her older daughter who now lives in Madison.
We had a rollicking good time and quite literally talked for all 40 hours that we were in the car! That’s probably not a world record, but my throat was sore after the trip.
It seemed we had an endless supply of topics to cover. Not the least of which was remarking on how beautiful the countryside is all the way across the Nation. In Illinois and Ohio, a couple of our favorite states, it seems you can see forever. There are “ribbons of highway” for mile after endless mile. The farm land and countryside are so beautiful. You can’t help but wonder who lives on these gorgeous pieces of land and what their days are like. Even when you’re driving along in the car, you feel that you can breathe better. Not to mention, you have time and space on your side.
A most interesting topic of retirement’s endless possibilities
It was during one of these beautiful stretches that we landed on the topic of retirement and endless possibilities. Shelly is in year three of empty-nesthood now. She’s among the very last Boomers, born in 1964. She is a career woman with two wonderful daughters. (Yes, I am biased! All of my nieces are extra wonderful!) She has a long list of credentials in project management. She’s got a great reputation and the senior executives in the large company where she works seek her out to run their projects. She’s been working for more than 25 years while raising her girls.
A wonderful opportunity came up years back. She and her family spent three years living and working in Tokyo, Japan in the mid-2000’s. She loves her pets and goes to great lengths catering to their needs. When Shelly invites you for dinner or brunch, you definitely want to go. She is an outstanding cook, and an even better baker. A few years ago she started yoga. While not technically an athlete, she walks for miles at a time. Her pace is so fast it would leave most of us breathless and sore for days! So, with a very full and lively life, what was she thinking about for her retirement? Was she even thinking about retirement?
Thinking ahead to retirement
She shared that she has been giving retirement a lot of thought lately. And, retirement for her is not about not working. It’s more about finding the right combination of work and opportunities to explore. She doesn’t have some grand plan for her 60’s or 70’s. At least not yet. She says, “I feel there is something else I should be doing.” So, she’s taking time now to figure out her options.
Like many of us women who grew up in the 1970s and went to college in the 1980s, we didn’t have grand career plans or a specific profession in mind. We simply had the opportunity to go to college in large numbers and received college degrees. From there, we got jobs. We were flexible and took opportunities that came our way. Eventually over time, we knitted together a career path. We had an adventurous spirit and took chances. Then, we had children and “took a 25-year detour” from our original path.
My sister sees her next three or four decades as getting back to her independent life path. She wants to once again embrace her adventurous spirit. With her girls well on their way to adult life, she has more time and space to explore. She’s quick to admit that she’ll need to keep working for quite some time to shore up her retirement savings. And, she knows how important it is to wait to maximize Social Security.
Time to try out new ideas
But she wants different options and is open to things like a new job within her company. That even includes relocating to another part of the country. She’s already experimenting with her love of cooking and baking. On this new leg of her journey, she’s working a couple of evenings and some weekends at a retail store. It a shop that sells cookware and offers cooking classes. She loves this new part-time job. She’s meeting many interesting people. It’s fun to be helpful to the customers and the younger workers. And, everyone she talks to brings new ideas to her own thinking.
Shelly sees her 50’s as her time to take some chances and to try new things. She can sample new ideas and try on new hats. Nothing is off the table as she experiences what else is out there. Most important, she knows she isn’t going to find her new destiny by sitting on the couch or searching online.
Instead, she’s busy “putting herself in the way of new options and opportunities.” And, she sees retirement as nothing but endless possibilities.
How are you exploring the endless possibilities for your own retirement?
For More Information:
Many lagging-edge Boomers struggle with the idea of retirement. If you consider that retirement is about endless possibilities, you’ll likely find exactly what you were supposed to be doing. Here are a few places that might help you get started
My outline of areas you might consider exploring in retirement
AARP Life Reimagined provides many ideas worth your time to consider
Volunteering in your area – take a look at the wide range of choices all across America
And, don’t forget to take a look in the Want Ads of your local paper and online.