October 31st 2018 marks the one-year anniversary of my retirement from full-time employment in the pharmaceutical industry. And I have to say I’ve been loving it!
For the remainder of 2017, I treated myself to a 2-month vacation, the longest vacation I had ever had. I did pretty much whatever I wanted and established a comfortable daily routine of more exercise, more reading, and just more fun. And after I discovered that my wife didn’t want me to stay out of her hair, but rather wanted us to do more things together, we both got to enjoy my new situation.
In January of this year, I reestablished some professional contacts and tried to stay tuned to what was going on in the industry. My reasons for this are I still planned on teaching professionally, an outside of work activity that I had thoroughly enjoyed for over 20 years.
In addition to enjoying the teaching, this activity also afforded me much travel as I routinely journeyed to Amsterdam, San Francisco, and different cities in New Jersey (all close to New York). While working full-time, I always had to take vacation days in order to teach and in the early years of my teaching, was actually limited in the number of times I could teach by the number of vacation days I had available.
But with this restriction eliminated, I could travel even more which is exactly what I did this year.
Retirement for many people is broken down into three phases: the go-go years, the slow-go years, and the no-go years corresponding to the sudden capitalization of unlimited free-time, the recognition that your retirement financial resources can not support that early high level of travel, and finally the years when old age and poorer health prevent or significantly curtail travel.
This has definitely been a go-go year for not only me, but for my wife as well. I added up all the days I had traveled this year through the end of October (81 days total, 61 week days) and realized that had I still been working, I would have run out of vacation days before the end of June. I have written about a number of those trips already in previous posts and will catalog them for easy enumeration in my annual travel blog early in 2019. But to briefly summarize, on top of my usual teaching trips I have enjoyed trips to Philadelphia, PA, New York, NY, Portland, OR, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, AND I got to meet two new grandsons, one in Seattle and one in San Francisco.
Being retired has also afforded me the opportunity to complete a lot of projects around the house. I realized the work I did in our backyard alone could never have been completed in a single spring and summer of weekend days. Yet being able to work on this almost every day, I finished the tasks early in June with the redesign of my wife’s herb garden.
While not actively working on one of these projects, I have really enjoyed sleeping until I wake up (no alarm clock), getting up, and deciding what I want to do that day. After a year, I still wake up between 6 and 7 AM just because I don’t want to miss the beginning of a new day. But this is still “sleeping in” for me considering while working my alarm went off at 4:45 AM.
One of the things I also realized early on was that Sunday night took on a whole new meaning. Even though throughout most of my career, I enjoyed my job and never dreaded going to work, just the recognition that Monday was like any other day of the week meant a greater feeling of freedom.
Some people who retire actually lose track of what day of the week it is but that hasn’t happened for me yet. Some of my grandparent duties fall on certain days of the week and so they serve as a reminder of what day it is.
So with all the positives of now being retired, you might ask if there is anything I miss? As an introvert, I am quite comfortable doing things alone and gaining energy from that. But without the daily exchanges with colleagues, I do miss the professional interactions.
I was head of my R&D department for over 25 years and very much enjoyed the questions I would get on a daily basis. I knew my job very well, knew the regulations, and knew the acceptable and unacceptable ways of resolving technical matters. Since retiring, I have had numerous conference calls with colleagues from my old company about technical issues they happened to be experiencing. At one point, I was even asked by a senior management person on the phone if I was being paid for these calls, to which the answer was no but that may offer a possible future opportunity.
I have also been approached about full-time positions to which my firm answer is no. My professional teaching still allows me to keep up with the industry and if that is all I do in the future, I feel that may still be enough to keep me intellectually challenged.
So after a year of retirement, I have no regrets. At first it was a little weird when asked what I do to say that I was retired. But now I enjoy saying it and explaining how I was able to do it at a “fairly early age.” Retirement has been quite fun so far and I look forward to hopefully many more enjoyable years to come! Cheers!