In 2008 I read a fascinating book done by The Transition Network and Gail Rentsch. Called Smart Women Don't Retire—They Break Free, the book includes the stories and experiences of several women. I also attended a workshop put on by The Transition Network on the topic. I was intrigued with the ideas in the book and saw new possibilities to consider whenever the day came that I decided to retire.
That decision was made for me, however, when I was Reduced In Force in October 2009. All the dreams, plans and options I'd considered suddenly needed to be revised. I couldn't imagine then what wonderful new things were ahead on my path. All I knew when it happened was the grief and devastation of a suddenly changed role and identity.
No matter which side of retirement you are on and no matter whether it was your choice or not, there are some lessons to be learned from the idea of "breaking free." In one chapter of the book headed "How Can I Scale Back on Work and Find Some Balance," I read: "Many students just graduating from high school take a 'gap year' before they go off to college. The year is seen as an opportunity for them to find themselves through nonacademic experiences in which they can learn and grow without risk to their long-term goals. Why can't we do the same? ... We need to breathe and just let go of all the stress and demands that rule our time. We need a free period in which to test out ideas and expose ourselves to new options."
What a wonderful thought: "Breathe and just let go of all the stress and demands that rule our time." Whether you work full-time, part-time, outside the home, at home or are retired, this is a good thing to do: Break free from the routines you've had and let go of the stress. See what's out there that you'd like to do now. Change up your routine. Pursue a passion. Follow a dream. Renew a relationship. Strike up a new one. Learn how to be comfortable in your own skin. The choice is yours. All you need to do is break free!