First Month on the Lam: KPIs of Retirement

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Heed these words all ye who pass. Just kidding! Life after a job is still life. As with everything else these days, from Ubering a taxi cab to discovering The One and Only, retirement is different also. I’ll explain.

If one has not been to the or an office in 15 years, there is no office not to go to. As well, there is no gossip to miss nor routines to unwind. There are fewer conference calls, fewer emails and way less instantly appearing Instant Messages or Chats. Others have taken note of my departure, including several that I have not spoken with in years. They wrote me to say that they didn’t know that I was leaving. I interpret this to mean that they wonder if I can make it away from the herd. Today is the second anniversary of not receiving a paycheck every two weeks. The lights are on and our credit seems worthy.

The working day seems more purposeful; maybe it’s the anxiety of keeping the lights on and bank paid monthly. Side note: I’m helping my wife’s mobile app development studio and have been part of it for 5 years so it’s not a stark transition to the other world. It’s satisfying to control all of one’s time; it’s invigorating to be at the smaller company end of the business world where decisions are made rapidly with clear measurement of the desired objectives. Here are my tips for those who follow.

– it’s true, take care of your health. This is an obvious investment given the enormous pay-off. It’s also the one that too few of us take advantage of. Two words: better and time. You’ll look better, think better, act better, sleep better and be better off in the long run. You’ll make time and money by not spending time and money recovering your health.

– know where you live. several commented to me that they would not know how to leave their current positions because they have no contacts nor sense of what is around them. Understandable. A weak link. Maybe it’s a simple equation of “what would I do if I retired or otherwise lost my job this month.” One day, this solution will be required.


– I read this one in the Wall Street Journal ten years ago so I will pass along without taking credit. Hobbies and interests outside of your job are vital to a sense of inclusion or avoiding the sense of displacement when that life-defining job is lost. I qualified as a lacrosse referee four years ago and play as much tennis as Nature and my family permit.

– the economy stinks. People are uncertain, angry, unconfident and wonder what does the future hold in store for their children. As I am now much closer to the small gears of the economy – the schools, the start-ups, our Federally funded science programs which are the engine of our Research Triangle Park – I see how difficult it is and will be to correct the course of our broad economy. Whether healthcare, education, retirement, defense posture or infrastructure upgrades, plenty of someones will have to be hurt, in a financial sense, in order for the others to find their way forward. Someone’s ox has to be gored. Think patient, provider or payer in the healthcare marketplace. Two can make it if one takes it on the chin.

– on the financial front, I cannot decide if the prudent path is to spend more, save less; spend less, save more; get out of stocks and buy things (my Dallas friend’s comment of ‘commercializing one’s debt.’ “When the bottom falls out, at least I’ll have a boat and a trailer,” he says). Put away 15{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} to 20{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} of every paycheck or source of income. It’s never too early nor too late to start. Nothing contributes to a good night of sleep as does a financial cushion of savings equivalent to six months of former income or expenses.

– I understand the need for Obamacare. Our health insurance fees tripled for half of the coverage. This monthly cost for two healthy people and an 18 year old will only increase and is now twice the price of our home mortgage. Crazy is that the policy is riddled with clauses and co-pays and deductions except if I go to the Emergency Room. Then I pay $75 per visit.

I don’t miss the exasperating meetings; the middle management who’s been displaced by the Internet and doesn’t know it yet; the numbing processes that discourage decision-making and squelch a sense of contribution and achievement. I know that I am lucky because I’ve been lucky. Be prepared. Live in the moment. Help others now so that you might earn the right to ask for help later. Be an example in a self-effacing way.

From this Instance, Reader,
Be encouraged to Diligence in thy calling
And distrust Not Providence.
(Ben Franklin)