That “Open Hamster Cage” Feeling

“How are you liking retirement?” asked a friend the other day. I still find it so hard to answer that question, even after 11 months. I feel a combination of disbelief and guilt. Disbelief, that time has passed and I’m actually retired and not just taking a pause from work.  Guilt, about being able to choose what I spend my time on instead of being compelled to work every day. The drive to do meaningful work is very strong but I don’t have a specific plan yet. Retirement is complicated.

No More Hamster Wheel

It feels like I’ve been on a hamster wheel for most of my life, mindlessly running with little time for anything else. Suddenly, I’m off the wheel, walking around the cage and the door is open. I’m noticing things about myself and about life in general that I never had time to observe or think about before. That’s good. I’m hoping that this knowledge will help me when I inevitably go out the door of my little hamster cage. This is when my inner critic chimes in, “What if it’s not helping at all and you’re wasting your time?” (She’s so loud and annoying, my inner critic, Judith).

Doing All The Things

What I’ve learned so far is that there is no rushing the process and it’s important to enjoy the present as much as possible. I’m trying the things recommended for a happy retirement* without overdoing it. I have a routine. I’m exercising. I’m keeping in contact with friends. Check, check, check. I have hobbies that I enjoy. Check.

Dancing With My Inner Critic

However, retirement is not just a checklist and emotions bubble up. Part of me wonders if I’m just settling in instead of gradually pushing on to bigger and better things. (Judith thinks I’m getting too comfortable.) Retirement is a a three steps forward, two steps back, kind of dance. 

What do you think?



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