DE-Retiring: Getting the Most out of Your Life

If you have worked for the same company for most of your career, then your retirement date is likely clear.  You may be counting the days or wondering what you will do without work.  I’ve heard, from various colleagues, “I can hardly wait ‘til I’m outta here,” to “I’m so excited to travel,” to “I’m going to sleep at the cottage for the next six months.” For couples, if one person retires before the other, there might be resentment when one now has to schedule golf, lunch, the grandchildren or the remote. But is there more to life than retirement?

I have always worked.  I have acted, taught for six years, worked at a University, and in 1982, started my own business, Words.Worth Keynotes & Seminars.  After 20 successful years, running the business, I needed a change from the constant marketing and promotion, so I took a meaningful position as a teacher-librarian with an English as a Second Language (ESL) component.  This position lasted for 10 years.  Then, with little investigation, I moved from Toronto to a small town and much to my own surprise, I loved it.

After two and a half years of walking to the lake, lots of volunteering, lunches, films, reading and writing, my inner voice started to say, “I need more”. My brain started hurting from being under-used. When I was deciding on whether or not to start with a website, the ‘retired ex-corporate IT’ web designer I spoke with said, “My wife and I have decided we will spend 20% of our time working”.  His statement really resonated with me. Did I want return to airports and crisscrossing the country delivering keynotes and workshops?  No, but I needed something more.  So, I decided to DE-retire.

When you DE-retire, you can do as much, or as little, as you want.  I am doing a full-day facilitation with a national firm in Toronto, as well, locally, I am coaching a woman to overcome her fears and start her own small business and I am leading memoir-writing workshops.  That’s my point about retiring and then DE-retiring; it’s up to you.  You decide, you set the parameters, you market as much or as little as you want, and you choose from the jobs that come your way.

Roger Trull was the Vice President of University Advancement at McMaster University for eighteen years when he retired.  After volunteering with the United Way and the Canadian Mental Health Association for three years, he needed more intellectual stimulation.  States Roger, “I felt I still had something to contribute.  Now, I can choose to be only as busy as I want.”  He’s now excited about learning to be a ski instructor.  Age isn’t a barrier.

I like being retired, but choosing to work 20% of my time? I can do that.  It keeps my mind active.  By helping others move from intention to action, I’m helping myself.  That’s my DE-retirement plan.

Reva Nelson enjoys living in Cobourg.  She focuses on facilitation, writing and coaching.