Are you looking forward to retirement? I’ve met a lot of people over the course of my lifetime who were looking forward to retirement. I didn’t look forward to it, and I put it off as long as I could. I only retired when my job started looking less like fun and more like work. As a college professor, I tried to instill in my students the idea that a job and a career should be enjoyable, and if it’s not, make some changes.


At the beginning of the first class each year in the Decision-Making seminar I taught, I always asked the question: “Do you know what my primary objective is in this course?” No one ever knew the answer. My answer was; “For me to have fun. This is my job and my career. If you can’t enjoy your job, you will be unhappy for the next 45 years or more.”


Then I asked my second question: “What is my primary objective for you in this class?” The answer to that question was: “For you to enjoy the class, because if you do, you will learn more.”


My philosophy was always, if something isn’t fun, stop doing it. I applied that to work, relationships, hobbies, vacations, and just about everything I did. Life is too short not enjoy what you are doing. People now ask me if I am keeping busy in retirement. I tell them no. If I wanted to keep busy, I wouldn’t have retired. Besides, life goes by too quickly when you are busy. But you do need enjoyment.


One day I walked into my Seminar class and students had been discussing how fast time was passing. They turned to me and asked if that was true for me. I said it was, and there was only two ways I knew to slow it down. One way was to marry someone you hate, and the other was to be really bored. The latter can easily happen in retirement.


Looking back at the big, life-changing decisions I made, most were based on the fact that I was no longer enjoying what I was doing. I dropped out of my first college attempt after three years because I wasn’t enjoying it and thus I was failing. I got out of the Air Force after 14 years because I had been an aviator, and they moved me into management. It wasn’t fun anymore. I got divorced after sixteen years because I wasn’t enjoying it. I loved my wife, but then I also loved my mother. Loving someone is easier when you don’t have to live with them.


Retirement is not something you should be looking forward to. If you are looking forward to it, it means you are unhappy with your current life, and that’s not good. The big issue with retirement is that it is the final stage of your life. You are in decline, both physically and mentally. You also lose that sense of purpose that your work and career hopefully gave you. So what’s there to look forward to?


People have suggested that, now that I’m retired, I should volunteer somewhere. Being a volunteer is working without pay. Why would I do that when I could have stayed working and gotten paid for it? I volunteered to retire, and I get retirement pay. But I guess volunteering is good if you have nothing else in your life.


Don’t retire unless you have a reason/purpose to motivate you in retirement that keeps you from shooting yourself. For some people it is their kids and grandkids. For some it is interaction with good friends. Others like to travel and see the world. I have no children, I have very few retired friends, (none who are single) and I’ve traveled around the world many times and seen all 50 states. So, what keeps me from shooting myself?


My dogs and cat are the reason. They are totally dependent on me and worship me. I am their God. I took my dog(s) to work with me for most of my teaching career, and everything I do involves them. I have big responsibilities in taking care of them, so I can’t shoot myself. I won’t even travel anywhere unless they can go with me. Parents don’t farm out their kids so that they can go on vacation, and I don’t either. My animals are my kids. They are my purpose in life. If you don’t have a purpose in life, get a dog.


Are you still looking forward to retirement? The good side of retirement is that you can go to bed when you wish, get up when you wish, sleep as long as you wish, do what you wish, and every day is a Saturday. But make sure that you have something enjoyable to do each day besides Facebook and watching TV. I don’t have a TV, and I have not had one for most of my adult life. Watching TV is just sitting around and watching others have fun. It is a total waste of your life. Get out and do something enjoyable.


If you won’t have anything enjoyable to do, don’t look forward to retirement. Also, staying active (not watching TV) will keep you healthy and prolong your life. But all to soon the day will come when your health will require that you go into a senior living environment or assisted living. Then you will get to play bingo, work puzzles, watch TV, play cards and read – if your eyes are still capable of it. Are you still looking forward to retirement? For your sake, I hope not.