A conversation with someone who recently stopped working

This wide-ranging conversation produced some interesting ideas about the feelings experienced when work stops. Some of them looking back, most of them looking forward.

There should be an acronym RDS that stands for Relevance Deficit Syndrome. It refers to the fact that the world of work continues without me and now I am not as important as I used to be! What about me! This will also encompass a number of feelings such as: people used to seek out my thoughts, opinions, guidance….what am I missing that work provided; loss of income; how can I make contributions to society (however large or small you want that society to be for you) now that I have stopped working.

There may be certain habits which you suppressed whilst you worked. I have in mind such weekday activities as sleeping in, watching daytime TV, doing nothing. Why not grant yourself permission to indulge in these things occasionally. Sure they were bad and wrong during your working life - after all you were not at home Monday through Friday - but now you can be kinder to yourself. Why not?

Now this person happens to have a working partner as distinct from a partner who was always at home. In the latter case there is the old maxim “I married you for breakfast and dinner but definitely not for lunch”. In the former case there is the challenge ahead of how they can enjoy end-of-day conversations together now that they no longer both work. A worthy challenge to rise to; not forgetting that the working partner may be heavily engaged in work projects and, as we know, that can be quite an overbearing theme throughout the dinnertime conversations.

To conclude on the topic of work, people sometimes fear retirement thinking that, once they leave their important job, that the world at work will collapse. What to say? To maintain a positive response, in my experience companies can usually survive the departure of an important executive. Sure the company will change somewhat, maybe for the worse, maybe for the better, but when all is said and done a retired person has bigger fish to fry: how to make meaning out of the new and exciting phase of life ahead of them for perhaps three decades. Avoid this kind of self-defeating behaviour I say and retire because you want to and you are ready.

Look forward. Good luck.