How I Learned to Wear High Heels Until I’m 80+

shutterstock_148195292Where do you get your ideas about what retirement should be like?

I talked about retirement with a software engineer last night. We laughed about how long it would be before he retired. When you’re just starting out, retirement isn’t even something you can relate to–it’s just too far away. After we laughed, he said he actually had plans for what he wanted to do in retirement. More of what he does now, but for an organization that would provide cancer research. He wanted to use his skills to give back in some way.

That sure beats what I thought about retirement when I was in my 20’s. I guess (really, I don’t remember even thinking about it much at all) I just thought it meant sensible shoes. That’s it; nothing deeper than what shoes I’d wear. Contributing in some way to cancer research is way more admirable than contemplating old lady shoes. I told him I admired him for thinking now about what he’d want to do.

He said he wanted to do more than what his parents do. Washing the car, visiting family and not fully using their talents made him think their retirement lifestyle was not for him. I asked if they were happy and he said they were. We agreed that his version of happy is different from theirs. It made me think about what I learned about a happy retirement from my family.

My dad worked at the same company his entire life. When he retired, he enjoyed a busy life filled with a variety of volunteer gigs, reading, golf, walking and Sudoku puzzles. He nursed my mom through cancer and when she passed, he moved to a retirement community where he learned to flirt (again) with lots of spunky ladies and had a great time being part of a like-minded group of what he called, “old farts.” It was a wonderful life for him and I loved seeing him so content. My aunt worked at her company full-time into her 60’s and part-time into her 80’s. She was still riding the bus in San Francisco AND wearing high heels as she navigated hilly streets at 80. I guess she never read the memo about sensible shoes…

Can’t say I had the same retirement role models as my acquaintance from last night. But it occurred to me that our parents just never stop teaching us.


The Retirement Style Blog routinely discusses a variety of retirement transition issues. For a full framework of retirement resources, please visit our Retirement Success Series. To speak with a certified retirement coach about your personal needs, please contact us.

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