PROFILE: WHEN RETIREMENT IS DRIVEN BY FAMILY MATTERS…..AND YOU ENJOY IT!
It’s that “loss of control” thing that often trips people up. Janet’s professional development career was solid, gratifying and very productive. She had gotten into a development and planned-giving career after her children were grown and motherhood demands were on the decline. She found that she was very happy and productive in this career and all went along smoothly until….her husband had a serious health scare and her mother became terminally ill. So, because of the needs of OTHERS, she decided to curtail her working life from a full time career to a 3 day a week commitment. She doesn’t tell this story with any rancor or expressed disappointment, but I surmise that this can’t have been that easy.
And the story didn’t end there. After her husband’s health scare, he quasi-retired and wanted to spend more time outside of NYC in both the summer and the winter. And then, guess what he did? He bought a winter home in Florida—and didn’t quite inform her until after the papers were signed! To be fair, his offer was embarrassingly low and he never thought it would be accepted. But it was. And then, when his plans of a living room pool table surfaced, she decided that she could no longer avoid the inevitable. She took the Retirement Plunge.
How difficult was that? I wondered. To be honest, it sounded like Janet was truly ready to retire and she focused more on talking about the wonderful retirement party than on the moving on to retirement. (Whether there’s any revisionist history in the telling of this story, I have no idea…) To some extent, she noted that the slow down from 5 days to 3 made this transition a whole lot easier and smoother than it might otherwise have been since she’d already started to phase out. And she could move on from working to house decorating—something she enjoyed and was good at…and couldn’t have really done well when working. As she noted, the lack of flexibility that characterized her working life morphed into total flexibility, which she truly embraced.
Admittedly, she said, she did have to “rebuild” her life. She was able to maintain some good connections in her development world when former contacts asked her to go their institution’s planned giving committees. This kept her in touch with her old community and, as she grinned, had some great perks as well—like private museum showings. At the same time, she stayed on the industry associations and committees, which kept her quasi-involved with old colleagues.
Reading between the lines, I would also say that she was ready to move on to do some of the other things in life that she enjoyed, including family time on both coasts, travel, many lectures which she loves, cultural pursuits, and learning to play golf. Bottom line, she is very happy in retirement. She has built the structure into her life that she needs and combines that with the freedom to be a bit opportunistic and flexible in doing things that she wants. Retirement suits her well…and that’s a good thing!