What, Me Retire?

It's never going to happen (no matter how hard I wish for it)

I can’t wait to retire. I’ve thought about retirement practically every day of my working life. Not that I didn’t like my job, but I’ve always wondered why I had to do it. Every. Single. Day. I was fortunate that, after many years in corporate America, I was able to start my own consumer research and marketing company (, which got me a little closer to my fantasy. Not retirement, but I was able to structure my time such that I didn’t have to work every day. I could plan a few days off between projects and I loved that.

I was made for retirement. My ideal situation would be that work is what I’d do between long bouts of an indulgent break. I have such big plans; there is so much that I want to do.

1. Travel is one of my passions. I’ve traveled the world, usually for 1–2 weeks at a time. In retirement, I will swap 1–2 weeks for 1–2 months.

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2. I will learn languages. I’ve been speaking Spanish like a 3-year-old since high school. Once a year, I go to a Spanish-speaking country for a few days so I can practice and improve my skills. Then, I do nothing else in the way of studying until my next trip. In retirement, I will have the time to take language classes in New York City where I currently live, do my homework, practice with Spanish-speakers and then immerse myself in a Spanish-speaking country for months at a time. And once I’ve perfected my Spanish, I’ll move on to the next language.

3. I will learn to swim. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have a phobia about water. I’ve spent thousands of dollars taking swimming lessons, hypnosis and other methods to get over my fear of water. Technically, I can swim; I’ve even passed a swimming test given by the YWCA. I can make it from one end of the pool to the other — once — but I’m petrified the entire time. That’s not really swimming. And I don’t dare try it in the ocean because there are no pool sides to grab onto. When I’m retired, I will have all the time I need to fix this.

4. I will become an equestrian. I’ve taken horseback riding lessons from time to time, but never committed the time necessary to become good at it. In retirement, I will.

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5. I’ll become an uber-volunteer. Right now, I volunteer at the Young Women's Leadership School in East Harlem when I can. In retirement, I’ll be much more active.

And that’s just the beginning. In retirement, I will do all the things that I think about doing now or actually do now but in a 'half-a' kind of way. I’ll have the time and resources to do them right.

The problem is, my accountant doesn’t agree with me.

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He thinks I’ll need to work another 15 years. 15 years! Here’s why. My business was very robust for over 10 years. I made good money and I saved well. Unfortunately, the last 5 or so years have been a challenge. Business is slow and I’m only now starting to admit that I may not be able to turn it around the way I need to. So, I haven’t been saving like I should. I’m ashamed to admit that I even tapped into my 401k. That’s a real no-no. I’d even call it stupid.

So, right now, I’m looking at other ways to fix my business, boost my income and turn things around, including maybe even going back to corporate America (if they’ll have me).

Yet, here I am, still fantasizing about an amazing retirement … one that will probably not happen in 5 years like I assumed it would. I do have quite a bit of money put away, just not enough to take care of me until I’m 91, if I live as long as my dad did. I have a vacation home that’s already paid for that I can sell and should make a pretty good profit on, assuming the housing market is working in my favor. I have disability insurance, and long-term care insurance, so at least that’s covered.

Maybe I should be more worried, but I’m just not the worrying type. What if I get taken out by a fast-moving bus? All that angst about retirement will have been for naught. It could happen. I’m hoping it won’t, but I’m just sayin’… who knows what the future holds?

Tags: retirement