I am two months from retirement as I write this.  It’s starting to sink in.  Since the intent of this blog was to record my retirement journey, it seems appropriate to discuss my pre-retirement.  Five month ago I was convinced that I would get a part-time job in engineering after my retirement from my current job.  I have lots of contacts and friends in the industry and many have expressed a desire to hire me.  Well, a couple of things got in the way.  The economy really slowed down the industry and getting even a part-time job would be tough.  Secondly, and more importantly, I began to change my way of thinking.

The idea of working with a structured schedule doing the same thing I have been doing for decades honestly made me want to retch.  I yearned for more freedom, to do what I wanted to do, to retire rather than just change jobs.  However, I was under the impression I needed the money.  That’s when I began to really look at my retirement and life a lot differently.

I admit it.  I was materialistic, consuming for the sake of consuming.  I can play maybe half a dozen songs on my guitar, but I somehow needed three of the damn things.  Oh, I love them all and they all are suited for different styles of music, but three?  I began to search the web and what I found really struck a cord.  It was just the opposite of the way I had been living.

The book Your Money or Your Life really turned my thinking around.  I didn’t need all this crap, I hardly use most of it.  I wasn’t keeping up with the Joneses, but I was living a lifestyle of bigger and more is better.  Big house, new cars, boats, etc.  The book preaches financial independence and the idea of enough.  Just enough money, possessions, house, car, etc., plus a little more.  Not the bare minimum, but not extravagance either.

Wow!  I started looking at retirement not as a time of working more and more to buy fancy cars, take extravagant vacations, and live the “high life”, but of enjoying the experiences my pension could bring me.  I saw a way to retire now, not in 5 or 10 years.  Now, I have worked it so I am no longer looking at a deficit in my income that needs to be replaced, but a small surplus.  I still plan to work, but not just to make a buck.  I plan to work at things I love, that I have a passion for.  If I make money, great!  All it took was a little honest evaluation of what was really important to me.  I found it wasn’t money and more possessions.

That, however, brings me to the other issue I faced in the months leading up to now.  I suffered some pretty bad anxiety.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I was retiring.  What was so depressing?  It went on for a couple of months and fortunately has diminished.  I say this to prepare you if you are close to retirement.

Retirement is a major life change, like graduating high school, getting married or having children.  We’re you nervous for those events?  I know I was.  Not only was I anxious due to my impending retirement, but I had the extra burden of a fundamental change in philosophy.  It brought about a lot of uncertainty.  I also believe that as we age, stress is harder and harder to manage, even good stress.

I felt like shit.  Depressed, anxious and nervous.  All the physical symptoms too.  Sleeplessness, upset stomach, headaches, etc.  Realizing the source made it easier and unlike many stress inducing events, this one has a happy ending.  As I get closer, it has vanished.  I feel content now.  Still wanting the waiting to end, but not as desperately as before.  I guess I have made peace with it.

Anyway, I will try and do this again as needed, but hopefully once or twice before the big day, July 4th, 2010.  I will definately write about some of the other aspects of retirement and some of what I have learned in greater detail.

Thanks for reading!