As the countdown to retirement marches on, surprisingly, the question of whether I would consider coming back as a contract employee comes up at least once per month. The question always makes me smile.
Given that retirement for me is still a few years away, I find the best answer to the contracting question is something along the lines of “Thanks for the vote of confidence! We’ll see when the time comes.”
First and foremost, I take it as an amazing compliment. I know I worked very hard to build a solid career based on quality work, strong ethics, working well with colleagues and maintaining a positive attitude. To me, the contractor question is one that fills me with validation and gratitude.
Over the years I have seen many of my colleagues retire and then come back a few years later for short contracts, sharing their vast corporate knowledge and expertise. It is always a pleasant surprise to see their smiling faces and renewed energy at meetings. Parenthetically, I wish they would stop looking so darn refreshed after a few years away from the office. It makes me very envious!
However, I think it is very natural to dream and fantasize about a time when I can truly reap the rewards of a retirement that I worked a lifetime to build. I look forward to the sense of complete freedom where going to bed promptly, getting up with the alarm, dealing with traffic, and commuting in heavy snow or freezing rain become optional. I look forward to having choices I can make, purely in the moment.
To me, my first priority when I decide it is time to retire is to do just that: enjoy the fruits of my labour:
If you’ve read the last 140 blog posts, you might have gathered that writing is a hobby I really would like to pursue in retirement. With no shortage of notes accumulated over the years and ideas floating in my head, writing is at the top of the must-do list. Taking writing courses to perfect my craft and to learn about the business side of writing share the top spot.
Of course, there is a long bucket list of things I would like to explore, at a time when I will not be limited by a few weeks’ vacation time every year.
But also, I look forward to much “unstructured play time” whether that means sitting down and watching all 14 seasons of Dallas uninterrupted, or watching every vintage Price is Right episode posted on YouTube… guilt free! Similarly, if sleeping in for 6 months and binge watching Netflix is what my body tells me to do, I vow to do so without guilt!
The thing is that when it comes to retirement, everyone is different, everyone has different plans and priorities, and frankly no one knows what lies ahead.
My father was diagnosed with lung cancer barely one year after his retirement and died 18 months later. If that isn’t a sign to seize the day and enjoy life, I don’t know what is.
In my mother’s retirement years, she lovingly spent time caring for my aging grandmother, another reality for many retirees.
Most importantly, how will my own health be at that time? So far things are looking good in that regard, but things can change. But if all is well, I wouldn’t even rule out training for a full marathon when I have the time to do it. One never knows.
If the stars line up and everyone in my circle is feeling well, options open up. If I want to make a trip of a lifetime and not deplete my savings to do it, picking up a work contract might be something to consider.
I would also consider a contract if something happens in the markets and my investments are not performing as strongly as I’d like. A short term contract could help weather the storm.
So when somebody asks me if I would be reincarnated as a contractor, I will always take the compliment at face value. Clearly I did something right, if they are already thinking of me in the revolving door, coming back to work before I even left.
But the plan is first and foremost to take the time for me and my loved ones, to enjoy those precious moments of life together, unfettered by the day-to-day pressures of work. Once I have crossed a few things off the bucket list, downloaded a few stories from my brain, completed a few personal projects and started to look for ways to fill my time (if there is time to fill), being a contractor is an option I might consider.
We’ll see… Never say never. Whatever happens, I look forward to doing it at a more leisurely pace.
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