Life after Retirement: A Second Career Crafted in the First

As the movie line goes, “It’s an offer you cannot refuse.” Circumstances and planning provided me an opportunity to retire early after thirty-eight active working years. I know I am not alone, but the timing was right for a change in life and I took the monumental step.

I’ve thought about retirement since I was in my fifties (many start on the first day they take a job). My retirement planning was intentional at that early age. I read an interview with the late Peter Drucker in which he said something to the effect of “create your second career during your first. Then when it comes, you will be ready for it.” I wish I could give credit to the source, but it has failed my memory. The advice, however, was not lost on me.

Since my mid-fifties, I stepped up my independent work in reading, writing, consulting, and public speaking. I’ve honed these skills over the years and in time, did create a second career. Now that early retirement as arrived, I am looking forward to advancing these opportunities even more. By setting a plan and working the plan, I am finding my days full of what I believe I was created to do.

I’ve written in the past and am researching and writing anew (you can see my books on my website). I am teaching again, which I did for nearly 20 years, at the university level. I had to take a work time out because the demands of the job became overwhelming. Something had to give. And I am exploring my family heritage via genealogy work. I got really interested when I did research for a book chapter, but also stepped up my learning when my mother passed away rather quickly in 2010 (that’s a long story for another time). I’ve attended several large genealogy conferences, have identified over 10,000 family members, and have taken several DNA tests.  All of this has been exciting and leading me deeper into research and a different angle for my other assignments in teaching history and leadership….yes, genealogy work has helped in my leadership teaching.

Life after retirement has been good so far, but there have been those moments. Some of boredom, some of wondering what to do, and some slight depression about it all. While it may appear to be refreshing not to work after thirty-eight years, there are moments when you feel as if you have no place to belong. But Drucker was right, you’ve got to create that second career while you can, because it arrives quicker than you think.

I look forward to the items on my to-do list. I can also now say with my earlier retired friends, “wow….how did I have time to work with all the stuff I have now to accomplish?” A second life created in the first has made the future bright and exhilarating.