March 18, 2015
It’s official: I’m retiring later this year. I’ll be 53. Mr. Karen is wrapping up his working life at the end of this month; I’m sticking around Purple Systems until the end of June with the intent of contributing to completing the bulk of my team’s part of the big project that took me to Minsk twice and has been consuming huge chunks of my working hours for months on end.
Up until fairly recently, I’d planned to work longer than this, saving up more money and maybe being around until Purple Systems went through an IPO or some other significant corporate event, but as we got closer to Mr. Karen’s retirement date and sat down with our financial planner and tax guy to look hard at the projections, a vision emerged where, with some adjustments to a lower spending level than I’ve gotten used to, we could retire around the same time and still not run out of money for the decades we hope to be around post-work. The more I pondered timing, the more this June felt right. Purple Systems has grown to a point where it’s not a great fit for me like it once was. Plenty of people thrive in a bigger company; I don’t.
I’d been working my way through the retirement section at my local library to prepare myself for Mr. K’s transition; now that I have my own date, I’m feeling more driven to read up on different perspectives. Well, that’s not quite right; I’m more driven to pick up more books, but I’m mostly just skimming them. A lot of the stuff seems to not have a lot to do with me and my situation, but I come across nuggets here and there that jump out. I have been thinking a lot about the list from Retire Happy by Richard Stim and Ralph Warner of the four things needed for a happy retirement: money, health, friends and family, and engaging and enjoyable activities. I think we have the activities part nailed, but I waver on the other three. The projections say we’ll have enough money; a big unknown is how I’ll adapt to being on a tighter budget. Generally I’m healthy, and I hope having more time under my control will make it easier to get enough exercise to be healthier, but I wonder if various twinges I have mean my joints aren’t going to hold up long term. We have friends and family, of course, but I do tend to do a lot of socializing with people I work with, and I’m sure that will taper off fairly quickly once I’m not running into them every weekday. Reading people’s Facebook updates is not the same as seeing them in person. I know that I’m very fortunate to be in this position; knowing that doesn’t keep me from fretting sometimes about how it will go, thus the compulsion to research and ponder.
Right now, I’m reading a book not from the retirement section of the library but one that nonetheless seems like it might be quite helpful—When Organizing Isn’t Enough: SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life. I definitely need to shed stuff; our long term plan is to make our Idaho condo our home base, and all the stuff we have in Michigan is no way no how going to fit in that smaller space. The early chapters, which are all I’ve read so far, talk about choosing a theme for one’s future, a focal point to guide the process of purging clutter, both physical and mental. I haven’t picked my theme yet, though I’m leaning toward something related to freedom—I’ll be free to set my own schedule, free to pursue activities it’s hard to carve out time for now, free to pick up stakes and move (in close consultation with Mr. K, of course), free to reinvent myself.