I’ve been thinking of ways to describe these first days of “post-retirement.” What comes to mind is that it has been like pushing “The Easy Button.”
Back in 2005, our team was in the midst of implementing drastic changes to the permit process and it was stressful and hard. In August of that year, Staples introduced the “Easy Button”, a big red novelty item for offices which was advertised as a fun way of relieving stress. The button did nothing other than say “That was easy” when it was pressed.
Whenever we would work on something that we thought would be challenging or difficult and then it turned out to be easier than we realized, someone in their cubicle would press the button. We would laugh and then move on with our day.
I’m not sure what I expected would happen after I retired. I’ve done plenty of reading, talking and thinking about this for months. I felt prepared, especially with nine months of planning and lead time. But in reality, at least so far, it was so much easier than I imagined.
Maybe I was just really ready to retire after 44 years. With the pandemic stretching on, winter ending, our office continuing to be closed and looking forward to hugging my kids and grandkids now that we are all vaccinated, I could envision something else for my life. I think because I have so much to look forward to that there have been no regrets.
The biggest factor for me was returning my work laptop and having my access to the county email system turned off. Not having the constant pressure of making decisions, processing information quickly and completing tasks associated with thousands of emails was like a weight lifted off my back. Another consideration is that I no longer have the responsibility for 130 employees, a multi-million budget and planning for future land use decisions out to 2050. I find myself less distracted, sleeping much longer and better and able to focus more. I am able to be present in the moment. Having new activities like golf and trips to plan and anticipate helped as well.
I’ve been learning that “every day is Saturday.” My time is my own. I have an infinite number of choices to make about how I spend my day. Our wall calendar is filling up with fun things this spring and summer and there are no constraints on my time.
When people ask how it is going for me these days I find myself saying, “much easier than I thought.” I’ve joined the ranks of the retired and I really have pushed the button. Every morning now my big red button says, “That was easy!”
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.