Getting ready for retirement
A couple days ago I wrote a list of 10 items I wish I had known before retiring. Though knowing them would not have changed my decision to retire, I would have been much more prepared. Over the next few days I will take each item and expand on it.
1. You will loose friends.
I was not ready for this. In hindsight, I should have been. When you enjoy your job, you tend to spend a lot of time at it. I spent 18 years working with many of the same people. These were people who were just like me. Yes, they had families and outside activities. Still, they liked their jobs, and they enjoyed the people they came into contact with because of the job. We went to conventions, had meetings, and had some enjoyable nights around the bar. When my numbers didn't look right, I would call a friend and say, "hey, my numbers are showing this; how are yours looking?". There were the very long phone calls strategizing, and then there was the WTF! can you believe what just happened calls? I checked my phone first thing in the morning to see if anything had happened overnight that may need to go to the top of my list for the coming day. I checked my emails and text throughout the day; it's how we all stayed on top of everything. I met with, talked with, or texted people all day long for 18 years.
Then I decided to retire. I made plans, found a buyer, and then let people know. I called friends and told them I was quitting. I wrote good by emails and had good by dinners. We said we would keep in touch, and then I was gone. I was gone.
I was removed from email groups and lists as I was no longer in the business and was now an outsider. After a few weeks, I called a couple of friends, but it wasn't the same. Their life was 100% the business, and my life was not. We could no longer talk numbers, turnover rates, comp sales, or transactions. Though we had shared dinners, drinks, and some fun times, the business was our commonality. If we could not talk about the business and numbers, what did we talk about?
These were my people, and then they weren't. This is whom I spent 60% of my day conversing with, and then I didn't. One day I had a social network the next day, it was gone. I was completely caught off guard, and I was not ready for the emptiness I would feel.
I wish someone had told me to start cultivating friends with other retirees or those who would soon be retiring. I have one friend who seems like retiring has been an easy transition for her. After talking with her, I realized she did not have many work friendships, and all of her friendships were outside of work. She wasn't working because she enjoyed it but because she needed to. Maybe that is the difference. If you enjoy your job and those you work with, make sure you have friends outside your business circle. Try to cultivate one or two relationships with people who have or soon will have much more free time as you will soon have.
It took me a year, yes a year, to find my new people. Most of us are retired, though a few are not. Some of us meet in the mornings for coffee. Some I go to lunch with, while others we meet for book club or bridge (yes, I have now learned to play bridge). Tuesday and Friday nights, we meet friends for what we call Beer-Thirty (happy hour at our local pub). My WTF business calls have been replaced with "Hey, I have a bunch of leftovers in my fridge; you wanna come on over?" phone calls. This will likely be met with, "Yes, give us 20 minutes, and we will be over, and I will bring our leftovers. Oh, and I will call Sue and see if she and Jim would like to join". Then before you know it, you have two or three couples over eating a buffet-style dinner of who knows what, talking about the day's events well into the late evening.
For some, retirement is a lonely time, but if you plan for it socially just as you hopefully planned for it financially, it can be one of the most fun phases of your life.