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Jim’s retirement journey

“Almost everyone spends most of their adult life working” says Jim. And it’s usually accepted that “work is anything you are doing when you would rather be doing something else”.

So why wouldn’t I want to want to extend the time available to do what I really want to do rather than minimise it? For many people the reason is financial, for some lucky others it is because they really love what they are doing and someone is paying them to do it (in which case, by definition, it is not really work).

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my career, I also had many other things to do, and I was among those fortunate few who were able to take early retirement. I retired just prior to my 55th birthday and eleven years later I do not regret the decision.

The best thing about retirement

Being master of my own destiny. I can choose how I spend my time, whether that is busy or relaxed, or somewhere in between.

A life lesson that I have learned

Take heed of and consider sensible advice. Value your time and realise that it can be worth more than money.

An obstacle encountered and overcome

My physically active life has taken a toll on my body and 10 years into retirement I chose to have some surgery on my leg to allow me to continue an active life, albeit somewhat diminished. The three months’ inactivity during recovery gave ample opportunity for postponed sedentary pursuits and also prompted me to contemplate human frailty and the need to make best use of all my time.

A new job or activity started

Retirement doesn’t have to mean inactivity. Since retirement I have:

  • Spent a day per week working, teaching and mentoring with a charitable organisation that provides refurbished computers and training for those who would not otherwise be able to afford it.
  • Acted as the Secretary for the Board of Directors of a not-for-profit organisation.
  • Regularly attended a technical discussion group to share ideas and experience with particular aspects of computer technology.
  • Travelled to Scotland several times to help friends who are renovating an old village church as a community centre.
  • Increased my collection of old motorcycles and also my skills to maintain them by undertaking a machining course at TAFE.
  • Travelled to many parts of the world, including a train trip across Siberia and a motorcycle trip across Tibet and Nepal.
  • Spent significant time and energy landscaping our garden and extending my shed (to house the old motorbikes).

Tips for retirement

Plan well ahead, particularly financially, but also in developing activities and interests outside your work. The earlier you start this process, the easier it will be. It should be a gradual transition, and preferably a continuation of existing non-work activities, rather than a sudden change.

How do I maintain a healthy mind and body?

Good diet and appropriate exercise are of course essential, but remaining active in things I enjoy make me satisfied and relaxed. Being outward looking, helping others and maintaining strong and loving relationships are key to a peaceful life.

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