I officially retired a couple of months ago, but it’s only now begun to dawn on me that I have effectively joined the category of retiree. There are two reasons for this delay. On the one hand, the social security administration failed to process my application on time, on the other, I haven’t stopped working at all—nor do I intend to, at least for a few more years.
The fact remains that this is another stage in my life and a largely uncharted one. For the first time in almost fifty years, I’m getting paid for doing nothing. (Of course, I know this is actually my money they’re paying me, but it feels funny nonetheless.)
Thinking about all this, I’ve concluded that we actually live a series of different lives within that period we commonly refer to as ‘my life’. Each one of these lives involves different objectives, a separate cast of characters, and—to a certain extent—different values.
Some core elements are continuously present in all these lives, starting with ourselves of course, but also including a number of loved ones and long-time friends, and some hobbies and passions we never dropped.
I can distinguish several such lives in my past, starting with my childhood and teenage years, followed by my first contact with that unique construct we call ‘work’—which amounts to surrendering a large part of your waking hours to someone else’s objectives in exchange for money.
In my case, I also count as distinct lives the years I spent in different countries, with different people, doing different jobs. In each one of these lives, I made myself at home in different contexts, mostly spoke different languages and spent my free time in different ways.
I also believe I always knew when each one of these lives was coming to an end and I was ready for the next one.
The last time this happened was ten years ago, when I transitioned from a senior management job to starting my own business. I felt ready for it, even though I could have picked a better moment, seeing as that point in time coincided with the beginning of a long and ugly recession.
I have to confess, however, that this new life I just stepped into has taken me by surprise.
Of course, I have known for years that I was going to officially retire at a certain age, but it’s still taking me some time to process the whole thing. That’s why I’m still hanging on to my chosen profession and, for the first time in my lives, I’m enjoying the unprecedented privilege of choosing my clients and the projects I want to work on.