When Will I Do It?

My friend Maery did it after fracturing her shoulder at a company outing.

My cousin Eugene did it when he ran out of staples for his office stapler.

My sister Karen did it when COVID-19 closed the dental office where she worked.

What did they do?

They retired.

But unlike me, they all had employers to retire from. They also all had a key moment when they knew it was time to do just that.

But as a freelance writer who works for dozens of clients, there’s no one employer to retire from and since I haven’t yet had a “now’s the right time” moment, I’m still saying yes to most client work that comes my way. Thankfully, I enjoy the work…and the people I work for.

That said, I am beginning to think more seriously about retirement and what it might look like for me.

Despite the fact that I’ve been dreaming about (and saving for it) since I was 22, I don’t have a very clear picture. That’s one reason why, when I turned 60 three years ago, rather than celebrating with a big party, a piece of jewelry or an exotic trip, I took a one-year sabbatical.

Though I missed having work as a way of structuring my days, I really enjoyed the downtime and the chance to unplug both personally and professionally. I also enjoyed the chance to travel for months at a time.

Although I’ve since returned to freelancing, I now say yes only to projects I can do from anywhere at any time. That way, I still have plenty of flexibility and free time, a lot of which I just putter away. Most days that feels like exactly the right thing to do.

Other days, I’m more engaged. I’ve also started journaling again and gotten reacquainted with art supplies I haven’t touched in years. I’m cooking some and reading more. I’m writing letters and calling friends. I’m even enjoying routine household chores, plus getting estimates for several home improvement projects.

Increasingly, it’s these things—not my client work—that’s giving structure to my days…and no doubt moving me closer to retirement. What sign will tell me that it’s finally time? I don’t yet know, but I do look forward to finding out.

4 thoughts on “When Will I Do It?

  1. I once read (can’t remember where) that we should take mini-retirements (as you did) throughout our lives to rejuvenate and enjoy rather than work like crazy toward some end.

  2. Good piece! I think writers don’t retire in the classic sense of working one day and done the next. Instead, the balance gradually shifts from most of your projects/activities being initiated by others to most of your projects/activities being directed by you.

    • Agreed. Cathy M once said we don’t retire, we just wake up one day and realize we no longer have any clients. The topic has been on my mind because a fellow comms pro lists her occupation as “retired” on LinkedIn.

      I have noticed a shift in my work. I used to be hired to write specific stuff (copy for a disability brochure). Now I’m hired to write what I want (a blog post on whatever topic I chose as long as it’s related to retirement). And while most of my previous work was in third person, much of my current work is in first person.

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