• Virginia Tolles

What to Do After Retirement?

The man looks so much like Marcello Mastroianni, don't you think? (Art Tower / Pixabay)

I remember reading an article about thirty years ago about astronaut Buzz Aldrin. After he made his trip to the moon, he experienced psychological depression. In short, he had experienced the ultimate success and could not find a way to challenge himself further.

Experts tell us this is not unusual. Among over-achievers, retirement can be depressing as we feel deprived of the career that gave us the opportunity to do our best and reap the rewards for doing so. Instead of feeling inspired to move forward, we feel put out to pasture.

The experts suggest that we should develop well-rounded interests. This is not a new concept. In the Oxbridge colleges of Oxford and Cambridge in England, scholars have been taught for centuries to focus on academic, athletic, and social activities. The scholar who studies engineering in the morning might row sculls in the afternoon and play chess in the evening.

We should follow this lifestyle, perhaps by playing a round of golf before going to work, then meeting friends for drinks and dinner after work. This might carry over into retirement with a second career or a long wished for hobby replacing your career position.

A friend of my husband worked in computers throughout his career. After he retired, he decided to try something he’d always wondered if he would enjoy: selling cars. Interestingly, he was able to use his knowledge of computers to help co-workers with their computer problems even as he sold cars.

The experts to emphasize the need to ensure that the new career or hobby is long-lasting. We may dream of retiring, so we can travel; however, trips end rather quickly. If we are on summer vacation, we next return to work. If we are retirement, however, we are left to ask ourselves, “What do I do, now?”

If we genuinely enjoy traveling, we might make that a long-term career. More and more people are packing up their laptops, taking off to lands long dreamed of, and vlogging and blogging about those places, both for revenue and for personal enjoyment.

The key, therefore, is to plan ahead for continuing life’s journey, so we are not caused to come to a dead stop and wail, “Is that all there is?”

Read more about it:

Brooks, Arthur C. Your Professional Decline is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think: Here’s how to make the most of it. The Atlantic. July 2019.

Coughlin, Joseph. What Summer Vacation and Retirement Have in Common, and Why That’s a Problem. Forbes. June 23, 2019.

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