Face Rock

Face Rock in Bandon Oregon

I’ve read a couple of things over the last few weeks about retirement being a disappointment.  I guess I can see that.  You were a big shot at your job and now you just aren’t making a difference anymore.  Stuff like that.  I think another reason is that they just got off the roller coaster and have a little adrenaline deficiency.

I know what I was working, Fridays were awesome!  End of the week and two whole days to myself.  But by Sunday morning, I was already dreading work and Mondays were horrible.  The emotional roller coaster.  Holidays brought more euphoria, followed by even greater dread.  Vacations were the same way.

Highs and lows constantly.  Great excitement one day, depression the next.  I worked a four 10-hour day schedule for a while and I noticed that the peaks and valleys flattened a little.  Mondays weren’t so bad with only four days of work ahead of me.  Weekends were still exciting, but without the pressure.  I had three days off to enjoy myself.

Retirement took that to a whole new level.  Gone were the peaks and valleys of workdays and weekends.  Everyday was a weekend.  No reason to get euphoric or depressed.  Just a nice, steady pace.  Slow and easy.  But there is a bit of a let down.

While the lows may be gone, so are the highs.  I think a lot of people experience that and feel a let down.  Where did the euphoria go.  Where is the sharp contrast between excitement and dread.  Life just got boring.  No more rush.  Nothing to look forward to every weekday.

Me and the Wife at Bubba's Love Shack in Murrels Inlet, SC.

It takes a little change in mindset to get used to the merry-go-round of retirement.  You can ride a merry-go-round all day.  It’s pleasurable, but not overly so.  A roller coaster is a rush.  But you can’t ride it all day.  Pretty soon that rush gets old.  Why do you think so many people start talking about retirement after a couple of decades of riding the career roller coaster.

This doesn’t mean that retirement can’t bring excitement.  It surely doesn’t mean that you won’t have bad times.  But they aren’t artificial.  When you plan that trip to Europe or get to spend a month helping out with the new grandbaby, it is genuinely exciting.  Not like just another weekend becomes the focus of your entire being because you won’t have to go into work.

The highs and lows in retirement are flattened somewhat.   Work is a little like having a bi-polar disorder.  Retirement is like the cure.  No more euphoric highs followed by the inevitable crash.  But it takes a change in attitude and willingness to enjoy things as they are.  Taking time to smell the flowers, so to speak.

You need to learn to take pleasure in the little things.  You need to slow down.  Rather than constant intense happiness, you need to expect a steady feeling of contentment.  The best part is that contented feeling will endure.  It won’t lead to a deep trough of dread and despair.  Life will go up and down, but less dramatically.

If you can make that transition,  you’ll likely not feel any let down.  You may have looked at those retirees sitting on the porch and thought it looked boring, but did you notice the contented smile?  They were just enjoying the day and wondered what had you in such a hurry.  They weren’t on a weekend high like you, they were just enjoying life.   Slow and easy retirement.