The Retirement Countdown. When do you begin?

I’d managed to avoid focusing on “my number” until the days were short. 

I get it, there is a lot of excitement that builds toward the big day when you are officially retired.  Many people start their retirement countdown months (years?) in advance of the day that’s circled on the calendar.  I have good friends who were able to recite their remaining days by work days or total days (including the weekends and holidays).  One confessed he had help from an App. Nothing wrong with that.

I worked in the same department as another good friend who was retiring on the same day. She was counting, and the people I worked with always seemed to know her number. Which meant they often started conversations with me by saying something like “So, you’ve only got 89 days to go?”

Ugh! I just didn’t want to count.

Retirement Walking Trail
Trying to stay focused on the task, but occasionally glimpsing the future.

Why?  Well, first I felt that – for me – counting down would somehow make what I was working on matter less.  Like, Why should I put a lot of effort into this (project, plan, decision), I’m not going to be here when it takes effect?  I even received advice from a few colleagues elsewhere in the business who said “What does it matter? Just put it on cruise control!”   Turns out they really didn’t know me.  I like making decisions.  I like people counting on me for direction and advice.  It makes me feel like I have purpose.

Second, there was my belief that counting the days would slow down my life to an agonizing crawl.  How many days left?  Oh, only 132??  
No thanks!

But, the biggest reason I didn’t want to start counting days wasn’t the work, it was the people.  Time with my friends and my staff was running out.  That part wasn’t exciting, it was painful.

Our retirement home is a thousand miles from work.  It’s the 25th place I’ve lived, so it’s not like I haven’t moved away from friends before – a lot.  Half of those moves were when I was growing up – I didn’t have a choice.  Half of the moves were as an adult.  Different job opportunities or sometimes just different neighborhoods. I am incredibly excited about retirement.  I’m excited about being able to have quality time with my wife that we got too little of because of my work.  She is my best friend and we will have so much fun! I’m excited about our new home and the adventures we’ll be sharing.  I’m excited about making new friends and having new experiences.  I’ve literally been planning for this since I was 17.

So I held off my retirement countdown until I reached 20 work days remaining.

So why “20?” What was so special about that number?  At that point, I needed to start scheduling.  Final appointments, completing reviews, packing to move, deciding when to cut off utilities, getting the car serviced.  When I finally got close enough that I had to lay it out on a schedule – my number was 20.

So if you want to start counting a year in advance, God Bless you, count away!  You’ve worked for it. Own it! But if you don’t want to keep track for whatever your reason, just know that you’re not alone. There may be more of us than we think.

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