14 Jul The Pot of Gold
– by Janis Palma ©
It’s what we all work for. It’s where we expect to be someday: retired… with a pension. For many of us, it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. True, some pots are bigger than others, and that’s all going to depend on how much you “feed” it while you are still working, whether on a salary or on your own. But there is plenty of advice out there on what you need to do to prepare for retirement money-wise. Let’s talk about the other things, the intangibles of retirement, the fun part of retirement!
You still need to plan, though. I have a friend who retired about a year ago. She travelled to India to become a certified yoga instructor. Then she traveled to Italy and France, stayed local with Airbnb, polished her French and Italian, then returned to her home base. I’m sure she spent a good amount of time planning all this and didn’t just pull it out of a magic hat one day after she had already retired. Other friends have decided to spend large chunks of their time with children and grandchildren living far away—which requires planning that respects our loved ones’ time and life routines, as well.
One of my dear friends, once he retired, used to spend winters basking in the warmth of a Caribbean paradise, then go back North to his hometown during the summer months. I used to dream of having a little beachfront place to spend my retirement years, but when the time finally came I ended up moving lock, stock and barrel to a different part of the world; no beach. Life may not always agree with your plans, so be prepared for changes that you can manage.
So, while my retirement does not include a beachfront apartment, it does include spending a lot of time with grandchildren, exploring beautiful places every chance I get, setting up a little studio where I can paint any time I feel like it, and maybe writing a book or two. Not to mention freelancing and teaching, which I really do enjoy.
Whether you decide to stay where you are or go live in Costa Rica, these are decisions you need to make beforehand. If you live alone, this may be the time to pursue all those flights of fancy you couldn’t pursue before. If you have a spouse or someone else who depends on you, the time to consult and make joint decisions is the moment you decide “I want to retire.” Do you have pets? Be mindful of their needs, too. Will you need a good pet sitter to take care of them while you travel? Will you be taking them with you? How about health care? Insurance? Maybe a new driver’s license or voter’s registration. Don’t forget about those perky little details.
But to tell you the truth, retirement is mostly a state of mind, and it takes a while to adjust to that new life. Every day will be different until you get into a rhythm, your own rhythm. It’s not a door you open and then walk into a new reality; it’s more like a very long bridge you cross before getting to that new reality. And, of course, you can always go back. Many people do: retire and then rejoin the workforce to then retire a second or even a third time. It happens. It’s part of the new choices you now have.
Retirement, however, is mostly about having some “me time” to enjoy life, to take off at a moment’s notice if you suddenly decide you want to watch the Perseid meteor shower from somewhere in the Nevada deserts, or the Kilauea volcano lava flow into the Hawaiian Island’s ocean waters. Bottom line: retirement is about not having to ask anyone for permission to be “away from work.” Even if you decide to freelance after you retire, you’re still the boss and you decide when to work, whom to work for, and how much you want or need to work.
And that, to me, is the best and brightest pot of gold ever at the end of the workforce rainbow!
Janis Palma has been a federally certified English<>Spanish judiciary interpreter since 1981. She worked as an independent contractor for over 20 years in different states. Her experience includes conference work in the private sector and seminar interpreting for the U.S. State Department. She joined the U.S. District Courts in Puerto Rico as a full-time staff interpreter in April 2002. She has been a consultant for various higher education institutions, professional associations, and government agencies on judiciary interpreting and translating issues. She is a past president of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.