By Barbara Raab
This morning, on a walk with a friend during which we were catching up on every little thing, I heard myself say: “I am in peri-retirement.”
It kind of popped out – I’d never said that before, much less known that I even had the phrase in my head. But once I said it, I realized: That’s exactly the right way to explain how I feel.
The symptoms started around the beginning of the year. A longtime television news writer and editor about to turn 53, I decided it was time to get serious about planning for what I hoped would actually happen some day: my retirement. So, for the past six months or so, with the help of a professional, I have been going through the process of financial planning for that retirement.
And I have found that answering the various questions asked (“When do you plan to retire?” “What percentage of your preretirement income will you need?” “Do you plan to stay in your home?”) and digging up the many pieces of financial information necessary for making a plan has put me into this peri-lous state.
Don’t misunderstand me; it’s all good; I have a much better handle now on what I have, what I will need, and when and how I may be able to bridge what is still that gap, which is comprised of several years and many paychecks.
But the process has definitely triggered peri-retiremental symptoms, including The Big Three:
Hot flashes: I find myself having all kinds of sudden ideas for what I might like to do once I am not chained to a full-time job, and am free to pursue an encore career. These ideas seem to come out of nowhere – whoosh! Just like that! – and when they pass, I think, wow, where did that come from? I hope nobody (especially my current co-workers) saw that! Lately, for example, I find myself cultivating the far-flung notion of creating a project that simultaneously teaches three forms of literacy: financial, food and media. Wouldn’t Americans be healthier, wealthier and wiser if they mastered the apparently lost arts of cooking their own meals, balancing their checkbooks and sorting fact from fiction?
Sleep problems: This is a big one. I have spent a lot of time tossing and turning and shaking off the sheets when I start to contemplate a re-entry to the stock market and the idea that, in this crazy economy, I have to come up with a 4 percent return on investment for the foreseeable future.
Mood changes: Don’t ask.
I am assured that this is all temporary, that I am just in a phase of early transition, that there are mild medications to mask the symptoms, and that, if I am just patient, I will one day make the shift into full-on, natural retirement. I look forward to that.
Barbara Raab is a writer and nonpracticing lawyer living in New York City.