"It's great to wake up and plan out your day, and do what you want as opposed to what someone else is telling you to do."
Meet Stan- retired teacher, native Brooklynite, parent caregiver and travel enthusiast. Stan sat down with 3rd Wind Network to chat about how life is at the 3-month post-retirement mark.
[3WN] How long have you been retired?
[Stan] I retired mid-August so that makes it about 3 months now.
When did you decide it was time to retire?
I decided a couple of years back. I wanted to retire when I would be still be able to enjoy some of the things that I couldn't enjoy when I was working. I have the time to finally do some of the things I've always wanted to.
Like going to the gym without feeling bad about it. Taking care of myself, going to doctor appointments, things I did not have the freedom to do when I was working. I decided that when I retired I would take better care of myself.
I worked for 39 years at a couple of different jobs, and the whole idea of having to wake up everyday and be at a place everyday...it reaches a point where you say 'enough is enough,' and if you can take advantage and are able to live, financially speaking, then why work for the rest of your life?
It's been 3 months now, what has been most noteworthy about it so far?
My retirement came at a good and bad time. My mother is ill, so I frequently go back and forth from New Rochelle to Brooklyn to check on her. That has possibly slowed progress of other pursuits, but that's one of the reasons I retired - so I could help take care of her as much as I possibly could. On those days when I'm not in Brooklyn by her side I can spend time on other stuff.
One of the good things... I went to the movies the other day. I sat in the movie theater and I got up and went from one movie to the next, like I used to do back in the day. That's something I haven't done in a long time, but I feel free to do now. I get up and go to the gym, hit the tennis court or go out to the beach and run on the boardwalk. My neighbor, also retired, invited me to a boxing gym last week and we took a class; now I'm thinking that would also be a fun addition to the schedule. All of these are things that I always thought about doing more regularly, and now I can.
Has there been anything that you had not anticipated facing in retirement? Any surprises?
No, I've heard of people who retired and then become bored. Fortunately, I haven't faced that yet. I don't know what the winter months will bring, but so far it's been fantastic. It's great to wake up and plan out your day, and do what you want as opposed to what someone else is expecting you to do. That's the great part about it.
So, you're in control?
Well, no, I can't say I'm definitely in control. I have some control now.
Ok, you've reclaimed some control?
At one time, I had no control; I did what I was told to do. That was work. Now, I do what I tell myself to do. But, I still have certain responsibilities, as a father and as an adult, that I have to handle and I'm okay with that.
If you had to give advice to someone considering retirement what would you say?
It's simple. Have an idea of what you want to do, what you can physically manage and what you can afford to do and then try it out.
Also, my brother, also retired, was telling me that everyday when he wakes up, he writes out a list of things to get done for that particular day, crossing tasks off as they're accomplished. A lot of the time only two actions from the list have been completed by day's end, but it's okay. You take those eight remaining items and transfer them to the following day. This system might not suit everyone, but if you're used to living on a schedule and this helps you maintain that structure, then great. But at least now it's on YOUR schedule.
Are a lot of your friends retired?
I'm 61 years old now. Of my closest friends, the ones I grew up with, the numbers are pretty even right now, but every year I see it changing. Those who are still working are now talking about retirement. I'd guess that within the next two years most of my good friends will be retired with me.
Even though most of them were only a car ride away all along, now that we're retired it's easier to make plans to do things together like we're kids again. Feels like its gone full circle. When we were in high school we could go and do things together, but work and family unintentionally separated a lot of us. So now we can go back and do things we once did. I'm looking forward to that and meeting new people along the way as well.
What is one thing you'd like to accomplish in this first year of retirement?
Maybe start to travel.
Anywhere in particular you'd like to go?
Everywhere! Most of my life when I talked about going somewhere, it's always been to the Caribbean and places of that nature. But, there's a big world out there and many amazing things to see. Sand and water will look the same wherever you go. Once upon a time, I took vacations to rest. Resting meant lying on the beach with a drink in hand, watching the water go in and out, but now I look at vacation as a learning experience to go and learn about the world we live in. Hopefully, that becomes something that I do. There are seven continents; I'd like to experience a bit of each one.