This blog post was written by MyRetirement.org member tmb325. If you would like to write a blog post to be featured on the community, please send an email with your proposed topic to MyRetirementOrgFeedback@tiaa-cref.org.
I am considering retiring within the next 2 years. I am 62, and will have worked 40 years in my career field as of next February. I have built up savings from self-directed contributory plans over the years, which, along with an excellent retiree medical plan from my employer and Social Security, should be adequate to cover my projected financial needs for the next 30+ years.
Due to a family history of cardiovascular problems, and my hypertension for the past 10 years, I decided to get checked by a cardiologist 2 years ago. After several tests it was confirmed that I had serious blockages in 3 coronary arteries. I was completely unaware this was happening, as there had been no prior symptoms. I underwent a coronary by-pass operation shortly thereafter. I completed a cardio re-hab program, and since then, I have made major changes in my diet and exercise habits. I lost 40 pounds, and am probably in as good of physical condition I have been since my 30's. Even so, I am well aware of the risks due to my family history and my largely sedentary lifestyle with my career.
Retirement to me does not mean quitting work to "do what you want.” I think many of us in my age group are socially programmed to see retirement as leisure time or inactivity, or a time to relax after putting in decades of "work.” To me, this makes a false dichotomy between work (something bad) and leisure (something good). After working for 40 years in a field that challenges my skills and abilities, I am already doing what I want. Yes, it's a pain to go to the same job every day, to waste time at meetings, and to put up with all the problems that come with any organization of people. However, those things are part of what life is inevitably about. To me, retirement simply means to change focus toward something equally as engaging as my work has been. I love to travel, so "retirement" might mean volunteering or working for the National Park Service, or giving tours of special sites in foreign countries, or several other possibilities I am thinking about. Regardless of the activity, I see retirement as an extension of my past life, not as a transition away from it.