, , , ,



“My work is my retirement, “ I said recently in a conversation with younger people about their jobs. “And,” I added, “I’m very busy.” They laughed.

I’d never thought about my retirement as “my work” before. But now that I’d said it, I realized it’s true. And, unlike some who dread retirement or complain about being bored in retirement, I’ve not had those experiences. In fact, my problem is getting myself too busy and needing to stop, look, and listen periodically to assess what I should let go.

In Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud, clinical psychologist, uses phrases from Ecclesiastes to describe welcoming the changing seasons of our lives. He says, ‘’There is a time to be born and a time to die…” (p. 40). He asks, “…are there situations in business or in life where you are trying to birth things that should be dying?”(p. 45).

If we can accept the normality of having seasons in our lives, we’ll see that there are times to let go and prune the “activity, product, strategy, or relationships whose season has passed” (p. 45).

As I teen-sit my granddaughter many miles from home, I’m looking forward to, once again, pruning the latest activity I’ve added to my life. After taking a quarter off from the Basic Program at the University of Chicago, I got excited about an alumni course offered in winter quarter. You guessed it. I signed up. And it’s been stimulating and informative and all good things, but it involves a day for reading and a day for classes. It’s made this season of my life too busy, and I’ve decided not to take the spring quarter section of this course.

Since I made this decision, I’ve felt relieved, as if, as Cloud says, I’ve done some spring cleaning.

By the way, the course I’m taking is about Wall Street and investing, topics foreign to me. We’ve read modern classics—Burton Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, and William Bernstein’s The Four Pillars of Investing, along with the novel Bonfire of the Vanities and the nonfiction Liar’s Poker.

Because my husband handles our investments, I thought having a working knowledge of the terminology would help me understand what he’s doing. But, alas, when I examined his accounts online and smartly asked questions about his investment decisions, he shook his head and said, “You are dangerous.”

Remember the adage “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”? I’m probably a good example, so I won’t be advising you on your asset allocation of stocks and bonds in your portfolio anytime soon. Or explaining the Efficient Market Theory. Or recommending resources on these topics.

What spring cleaning would you like to do? What “activity, product, strategy, or relationships” would you like to prune from your life? And, especially for you retirees, what “work” would you like to let go? Go for it. It will be exhilarating.

Source: Cloud, H. (2010). Necessary Endings. New York: Harper.