WHAT IF YOU WANT TO STOP WORKING IN YOUR 50's?

Yes, you can stop working in your 50's. You need to choose what's right for you and stop seeking validation from others. Choose wisely and be confident in your ultimate choice. #earlyretirement #midlife

WHEN CAN I LEGITIMATELY STOP WORK?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I've been thrashing the question "when is it okay to stop work" around in my head a lot over the last couple of months. As most of you would know, I resigned from that not-so-perfect Perfect Job at the beginning of March. I needed to get out before I drowned in the drama and chaos that was the daily norm, but in the process I've been tossed into a bit of a quandry of my own making. That quandry is whether to stop work permanently now I'm 57.

WHY AM I STRUGGLING WITH THE WORK QUESTION?

I feel like I have those two little angels on my shoulders. I have good little white angel who is telling me "you've worked all your adult life, it's okay to stop the daily grind now you're 57", and bad little red devil/angel who says "who are you to think you can sit back and do nothing when you're only 57?" It's like they play tug of war with my brain and my emotions every time I start thinking about the whole return to work question.

I've been drawing up the old Pro's and Con's lists for stay at home or go to work. I've talked it to death with anyone who is unlucky enough to be in my general vicinity for longer than 5 minutes. I've flipped and backflipped over my future budget projections, spending, savings, retirement funds etc, and still the question has spun in my head with no real, definitive answer.

UNEXPECTED ADVICE

I read a lot on the internet (especially now I'm unemployed/retired/looking for work) and one of my favourite sites is Marc and Angel Hack Life because they offer such down to earth advice and often manage to drill down to what's going on in my head without me knowing what was driving me in the first place. I found a lot of what they write about Toxic People really helpful when I was dancing around with one at work, and then I hit on another post recently that has nailed one of the drivers behind my not working questions.

Their post is entitled 7 Reasons to Stop Proving Yourself to Other People and being a First Class People Pleaser, I thought I'd take a look at it. Lo and Behold! Point number 2  "No one else knows what's best for YOU" hit me fair and square between the eyes. The first paragraph reads:

Don’t lose yourself in your search for acceptance by others. Walk your path confidently and don’t expect anyone else to understand your journey, especially if they have not been exactly where you are going. You have to take the steps that are right for you; no one else walks in your shoes.

Yes, you can stop working in your 50's. You need to choose what's right for you and stop seeking validation from others. Choose wisely and be confident in your ultimate choice. #earlyretirement #midlife

NAILED IT!

Those words summed up what has been driving a large component of my thought processes. a) What will people think if I just stop working? b) What will my children think if I'm not working in a "real job" anymore? c) Who am I in the eyes of others if I don't have even a part-time career/job? d) What is my worth in the eyes of those around me if I'm at home at 57 reading books, blogging, coffee-ing, and just enjoying a calm and quiet life?

The real question should be - "WHY DO I EVEN CARE?" Why do I wonder or worry about what others think of my decision? The only person whose opinion I value is my husband's and he's fine with the idea of me not working in a soul sucking job anymore. My friends and family would only want what's best for me (and a lot of them aren't working anyway!) So why am I letting this be a factor in my decision making process?

WHERE TO FROM HERE IF I STOP WORK?

To be honest, I have no idea what the future holds, but one thing I'm coming to understand is that I don't have to know, I don't have to have it all worked out and tied up with a pretty ribbon. I don't have to prove myself to anyone - let me say that again for my own benefit (and for anyone else who thinks like me) I don't have to prove myself to anyone! There was a saying I saw once that said "Nothing to Prove, Nothing to Lose" and I need to repeat that to myself as a mantra as I go forward with this life change.

Yes, you can stop working in your 50's. You need to choose what's right for you and stop seeking validation from others. Choose wisely and be confident in your ultimate choice. #earlyretirement #midlife

Leaving work doesn't define me - it doesn't mean I'm "old", or unemployable, or lazy, or useless. It means I'm making a choice about what's good for me at this stage of life. It means I'm allowed to reap the benefits of all that frugal living we did through our previous decades. I don't need to prop up the family finances, I don't need to prop up my own ego, I don't need to prove anything to anyone else. I can just rest in what's best for me - whether I change my mind down the track is irrelevant, it's what is best for me now that matters. 

WHAT'S BEST FOR ME NOW?

I think what's best for me now is not to work - I can't believe I actually wrote that - but it's true, I need to not work, not suck it up, not keep doing something that I don't enjoy for the sake of the mighty dollar, or for meeting the expectations of a society that judges the value of people based on their material wealth.

Marc and Angel mention this in Point 4:

People will try to measure your worth based on what you have, instead of who you are. But you know better than that – material things don’t matter. Don’t chase the money. Catch up to the ideas and activities that make you come alive. Go for the things of greater value – the things money can’t buy. What matters is having strength of character, an honest heart, and a sense of self-worth. If you’re lucky enough to have any of these things, never sell them. Never sell yourself short.

It's time for me to rest and to re-discover what makes my heart sing and engages my mind - I'm actually quite excited about what lies ahead. Stay tuned for the further adventures of Leanne!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you able to disconnect yourself from the opinions of others? Are you so confident in your choices that you don't have things swirling around in your head? If you're like me and uncertainty is dogging your heels, I'll leave you with these last wise words from Marc and Angel:

You have nothing to prove. Care less about who you are to others and more about who you are to yourself. You will have less heartaches and disappointments the minute you stop seeking from others the validation only YOU can give yourself.

Yes, you can stop working in your 50's. You need to choose what's right for you and stop seeking validation from others. Choose wisely and be confident in your ultimate choice. #earlyretirement #midlife

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Yes, you can stop working in your 50's. You need to choose what's right for you and stop seeking validation from others. Choose wisely and be confident in your ultimate choice. #earlyretirement #midlife

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Yes, you can stop working in your 50's. You need to choose what's right for you and stop seeking validation from others. Choose wisely and be confident in your ultimate choice. #earlyretirement #midlife

51 comments

  1. I ma so happy to read this Leanne and have clicked over onto the links you mentioned. I have been where you are and am out the other side but everyone's journey is so individual isn't it? I am in the middle of writing a post about another not so different issue that's plaguing me at the moment. Love the positivity in your post, keep it going :)

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    1. Hi Deb - it's been such a strange journey to go from 1) just taking a break, to 2) I'll find another job, to 3) you know what? Maybe I like living on my own terms and not jumping through someone else's hoops for the almighty $$. It's a nice feeling to be more at peace with the process - but there's probably still a few more blog posts to go until I've completely settled it in my head - look forward to reading yours xx

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  2. As I think I said to you once, Grant stopped at 56. I think because it wasn't entirely his choice it's taken him this last year to accept it. I asked him the other day whether there was any point in me continuing to receive job alerts from Seek in that he hadn't applied for a job in well over a year and he's admitted that he is retired and that he really enjoys the volunteer work he's doing. Your journey is your own, but I totally get how it's hard to screen out the other voices.

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    1. I think I'll be following the same path as your Grant Jo - slowly flowing into an acceptance that I really don't want to work for someone else anymore - and I don't think I have the drive to start up something for myself - so retirement (a bit earlier than expected) might be a good fit - and once I accept that then the opinions of others will become less relevant I'm sure.

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  3. I actually like the idea of being able to retire in my 50s. It seems like something people who have their act together can do / plan to do.

    Financially it's not an option for me at the moment. Indeed my savings are almost at the point I can apply for the dole but I'm really loath to do so. Am contemplating putting mortgage repayments on hold and so forth instead while I have no income.

    But yes, IF I could afford to live a decent lifestyle (go out for lunches and do a bit of travel - nothing excessive) I'd definitely retire in my 50s.

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    1. Thanks for the thumbs up Deb - I really hope that you find something that pays those darn bills and still leaves you time to live a life that's worthy of you. I'd love to see you get one of those books published - you could be the new Aussie JK Rowling and that mortgage would be a thing of the past!

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  4. OMG this is me every little detail. I was let go from my job in February of this year after 15 years. I thought I had to work because of exactly what the article said what would my family think. I took a job inApril and I do not like it except for the money. I am still debating all of this each day of just saying I am retiring because I am 68 years old. 5hank you so much for writing this.

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    1. Hi Dianne - it's such a dilemma isn't it? I see jobs pop up and I just can't bring myself to apply for them because I know I'll end up back down the rabbit hole of working for someone who doesn't care about me, who sees me as a means to an end, and where I feel like I'm just treading water to bring home a pay packet - that I really don't actually need. Money becomes such a driver and I'm finding the longer I'm without a paypacket, the less it influences my decision making. I feel for those who HAVE to work, but for me it's not the issue, so why do that to myself just to prove a point to others who probably don't care either way? Good luck with what you decide, keep me posted!

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  5. I am a people pleaser myself and I have been trying to change that aspect of myself. I need to go to that website. So happy you found some clarity.

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    1. Thanks - I've found MarcandAngel really know what lies at the bottom of a lot of my thoughts - and they have very affirming ways of helping me get some clarity - I hope you find the same x

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  6. Great post, Leanne, and you really summed it up when you said that it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about your decision to not work outside the home. As long as you and your hubby are in sync, that's all that counts. Sometimes putting it all down on paper (and as a blogger, hitting the Publish button), helps to bring clarity.

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    1. Blogging has been such a godsend for me Candi - just writing stuff and putting it together in a coherent way really helps clarify things in my head. Also the reading of other blogs and the interaction and advice from other positive people makes a huge impact too.

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  7. First off.... that little devil that says retirement is "sit back and do nothing" is SO WRONG! Retirement is not about doing nothing... it's totally about doing what you want to do. I believe that over time, you will fill your days with the kinds of activities that bring you joy... YES, re-discover what makes your heart sing - whether it's volunteering, more blogging, being more active, learning something new, or something else.

    That said, I still worry about what other people think. It's a challenge to look to myself for validation. I try. But years of "meeting other people's expectations" habits are hard to break. So be gentle with yourself, keep repeating the mantra. I believe over time I'll get there, and you will too.

    And BTW, I retired at age 53. And yes, I was totally expected to start a second career of some sort. The feelings of I should be doing "something more", something to "live up to my full potential" continue to plague me. If you figure out how to truly silence that inner voice, please let me know!

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    1. Hi Pat - You've been one of my role models for getting through this transition and it's interesting that you still have that little voice niggling in the back of your head. I think we've been so brainwashed by society about our worth being based on our income/job that it takes a while to step back from that and realize how wrong that viewpoint is and how it should be more about being a good human being and about kindness to ourselves and others.

      I'm not having any problems with boredom or not knowing how to fill my days - I'm more relieved than anything else - SO relieved to be out of the toxic workplace, and relieved to be able to do things on my own terms now without compromising myself (and my values) to work for someone else.

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  8. A Eureka moment for your Leanne! It is okay to do what you feel is right for you! I retired at 57 and six months later was still struggling. With the benefit of hindsight I would certainly do things differently. My problem wasn't necessarily what others thought but more about the need to be 'doing' all the time and feeling fulfilled. Blogging filled that void and then later I started other activities and also spending time with my darling grandchildren. I certainly would enjoy the new found freedom rather than thinking 'I should be doing something'. You are working through your situation in a very wise way and I now you will find what you want for your life when you are rested and mentally relaxed. xx

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    1. Another commonality Sue - both 57 when we jumped ship from the daily grind! I can't believe it's been 2 months already since I left. I'm loving not working and I think a part of me just feels guilty for not "suffering" more and having to keep putting myself out there in the 9-5 rat race. Maybe as this becomes my new "norm" I'll be better at being proud of the fact that we're in a place where I can afford to not be working - rather than being apologetic about it. x

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    2. Hi BBB another similarity is that we both left jobs we enjoyed because of other people. I was being bullied by a woman who had been there forever so management wouldn't address the issue. It is so helpful for you to be writing about your experience and I've shared on social media. I'm glad we have a great working relationship through co-hosting #MLSTL, pity we don't get paid! xx

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    3. Yes, it would be lovely to be rich bloggers - but at the same time I'm not prepared to EVER sell my soul to anyone again. Toxic work relations are on my "no-go" list and I'm amazed at how many Midlife women have similar stories to share about co-workers from hell!

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  9. The quote "no one else knows what's best for you' is so true. But when you drill down, YOU know what's best for you and have no need to justify this to others. Congratulations on reaching your decision, Leanne. I look forward to reading where you take this from here!

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    1. Hi Donna - it's a strange feeling joining the Retired Brigade earlier than I anticipated, but the longer I'm here, the more I'm thinking it's a pretty darn fine place to be and a well kept secret about how pleasant not working is!

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  10. We found ourselves in opposite dilemmas Leanne. Two years ago, at 55 my company downsized me. I took that opportunity and the generous package they offered and didn't go back to work. But my husband and I did move in with my mother and I was able to care for her during her last years. Since she's passed, my husband and I moved to another state and it was important that I find a job to help bring in money while we were transitioning. But the key for me was not finding a job that I took home. I decided I no longer wanted to be a Senior Manager or to Supervise people, I just wanted to go into work, do my job, chat with some other adults and go home with no worries at the end of the day. And I didn't want to be tied to work emails at night and on the weekend making sure everything was fine at the office. And that is what I found. At first, I was worried what other people would think because I didn't go back into a management position, then I realized...it's none of their damn business and what other people think, especially other people in another state, doesn't matter.

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    1. The whole thing about "what will other people think?" really messes with our heads initially doesn't it Jennifer? I'm so glad that I'm finally moving past that (as have you) and can choose to do life on my own terms. I know exactly what you mean about wanting to do something that is engaging without being draining, and if a job like that appeared on my horizon I'd definitely consider it. The trouble is that most stuff that's out there just looks like more of the same sh*** that I put up with before and I'm never doing that to myself again! So it's retirement for me for now and we'll see what the future holds - maybe I'll be writing something different in the years to come?

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  11. Hi, Leanne - I'm back again from #MLSTL. I have shared this post on my social media.

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  12. Leanne, I could spout on about all the positives and negstives of early retirement for ages. It worked extremely well for us as now the Squire has bone marrow cancer and a shortened future. We were right to listen to our gut instinct to sell up and travel fulltime. All I can say is I'm sure you will make the right decision for you both.

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    1. I think being aware that life is getting shorter and that there's no guarantees is part of what got me thinking about what I want to do work-wise. I don't want to waste another decade pandering to someone's toxic workplace habits for the sake of the almighty dollar - there's soooo much more to life than that.

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  13. Hi Leanne
    I think as we get older our job can define us. It's been a part of our lives for so long that once we leave we sort of need to re-define ourselves.
    I think once you let go of it, you will truly learn to embrace the future!
    I have a feeling you will fill your time with all sorts of things-things that you truly WANT to do!
    #MLSTL

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    1. Re-defining myself has definitely been a key area since leaving the job. Because I hadn't planned for it, I had nothing in place to replace my perception of myself. As time goes by, I'm finding that I like this new version of "me" - I'm certainly more relaxed and more authentic than I was in a toxic workplace environment. It's made me very reluctant to dive back into that world anytime soon!

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  14. I don't know why the above says "unknown"
    -Theresa Muth fabinyourfifties.com

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  15. Congratulations, Leanne, on reaching your decision! I look forward to reading about your new adventures. #MLSTL

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    1. Thanks Natalie - it opens up a whole new world doesn't it?

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  16. I think it's good to have work, but maybe what you need is to rethink the work. Maybe part time, maybe in a different industry, maybe something different. It's why so many retirees volunteer, because they miss the psychological satisfaction and internal validation of having somewhere to be and reflected in the people there. However, it's not about the money at all, tho that is a good side benefit. But as you say, nothing to prove, so up to you. But to me, even just working in a coffee shop could be fun a few days a week.

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    1. I think I've come to the conclusion that work would have to be better than staying at home. Going to a job where I'm left exhausted and drained by the workload or the workforce just isn't on my agenda any more. The "ain't nobody got time for that" meme says it all for me. But yes, a little something part-time or volunteering that is fun would be a great option - I'm not saying "never" just "not right now" :)

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  17. I was a lot younger than you when I left my workplace. I won't say what age because I STILL feel bad about it in some ways, though it was the best thing I could have done given the circumstances. I had intended to work until at least 55 ... which is what I turn at the end of this month. So you retiring at 57 does not seem strange or bad or wrong or weird at all to me. Regardless of what I or anyone else thinks ... just do what feels right for you. I know that I still need to have goals and purpose and a sense of achievement ... hence my blog. I've considered some part time local work. I've considered starting my own business from home. I've dabbled in this 'n' that. I don't care what others think. I worked very hard for many years in a full time demanding job juggling children and the house and work and this is my time to look after me and to get to the core of who I am and what makes me feel fulfilled, happy and peaceful. It takes time. Enjoy the process! :-) xo

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    1. Min you said it beautifully in those last sentences. I've worked really hard for a long time too and catered to the whims of too many not-very-nice employers and workmates over the years. Now is definitely my time and I love that I have so much freedom and the time to take stock and decide what I want to do next. Blogging certainly helps clear my thoughts and fill my time. I often wonder what I did to fill my brain in the years before I started. Thanks for the encouraging words - they mean the world to me xx

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  18. A great post and a question which is so pertinent in today's work work work society. As a generation I think we were all led to believe that we could have it all, but never reallly understood what 'it all' was - except that it meant having money which meant being in a better position to do things. I love what you say about getting rid of the idea that we must please others. Our lives are really up to each of us and without being selfish we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our decisions and be accountable. Stopping work before the proper 'retirement' age is great if you can do it, some people have to work well beyond that. We shouldn't be hijacked for our decisions. We are what we are. #MLSTL and Pinned

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    1. Hi Jo - I think we get so caught up in what we think we should be doing, or what others expect us to be doing, when really it should be completely about what's right for each individual. To be financially independent enough to have earnt this early retirement should be blessing, rather than something I feel like I need to justify. It's been an interesting journey to say the least!

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  19. I’m so pleased to read this post Leanne and to hear that you have been able to decide what’s right for you. As you know I’ve been there and it’s such a quandary. Looking forward to reading about what’s next for you #MLSTL Will share on SM

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    1. I think quandary is the perfect descriptor Jennifer - maybe because it all happened quite quickly, so it has taken a while to get my head around it all. I'm really hoping that it keeps getting better and better.

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  20. As always, you are spot on, Leanne. I am happy to hear that you are working through all those thoughts swirling in your head and accepting that you can stop and do what's right for you. If at some point you decide to go to work, it will be for reasons that are right for you, not because you feel you "should." I look forward to following your journey. Thanks for sharing it with us. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Christie - I think I'm finally moving past the "should" stage and starting to look at it from the "what's right for me at this time of my life" stage. It's so refreshing to not feel compelled to jump back on the hamster wheel any time soon!

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  21. Totally agree with Pat WD. Retirement is about doing what you want to do. I retired having just had my 56th birthday, nearly 8 years ago. Every day is a new day, filled with things I want to do. (There are the occasional - have to do, but only a few) It gives you time for you, yourself. It really has been the best years of my live, filled with hobbies, travel, volunteering, blogging and just sitting in a chair in the sun reading a book!
    Enjoy it - it really is a gift

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    1. Thanks for your encouraging words Erith - I read your post on Financial Independence and left a comment - it was exactly on point to where I'm at right now. And I love hearing that others are thriving in retirement and not bored or shut in. My weeks are just flying by and seem to fill up without any problem at all. In fact I seem to have more on my calendar now than I ever did when I was working, tired, and stressed!

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  22. Hi Leanne, this is another great post. You are not alone in the struggle for relevance. I too left work early, unsure of what I would do. I drifted, feeling the loss of my identity and even though it is painful to admit, worried too much of what other people would think of me. I just could not relate to "housewife" or "retired" (even though I wasn't getting my penion yet) or "unemployed", which makes me sound lazy. I was born and raided to work and identified so strongly with that. Therefore, with no work, was I now useless?

    I love the quote from mar and Angel, "Catch up to the ideas and activities that make you come alive. Go for the things of greater value – the things money can’t buy. What matters is having strength of character, an honest heart, and a sense of self-worth. If you’re lucky enough to have any of these things, never sell them. Never sell yourself short."


    This is wisdom. Do what feeds your soul and makes you light up! I think you are on your way!

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    1. So much of what you felt is what I've been going through Michele. It's a process for me and I'm not sure that I want to go back to the work doldrums. My trust in people and what a work environment says it is (compared to what it actually is) has been severely dented and I'm not sure I believe anyone who is advertising a job that sounds "perfect" because this last one damaged me so badly.
      I'm open to what the future holds - maybe there'll be a lovely little job or volunteer position that comes my way. Unfortunately the grandgirls are too far away for me to volunteer my Nan services each week - so I'll be looking for an alternative - I'm thinking about helping at our local playgroup or something similar for a bit of fun.

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  23. When I retired at 66 I did it because of a co-worker also. I would have been ahead to have worked another year but couldn't stand the thought. You have to do what you need to for you and not worry about any of the other stuff.

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    1. I think you're right Victoria - I thought I'd found the perfect job for at least another 5 years but one very difficult person's issues just did my head in and it became self preservation - the surprise was how much I'm enjoying not working :)

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  24. Great reflections here Leanne which have resonated with many I see. I am now finally and fully retired and needed to 'let go' of who I am on the last occasion. I now refer to myself as a retired educator or principal and that feels right.

    Denyse #mlstl

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    1. Retired always seemed to be a descriptor for old pensioners didn't it Denyse, I think we'll be re-defining it (much like Midlife!)

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  25. I enjoyed seeing your thought process here. I'm 40 and I already "don't work". I stay home every day and homeschool 6 children. When all the children are grown and move out on there own, I plan to continue "not working". Anyone reading this may have different thoughts (for or against) what I just said, but my point is this. I believe God created us to work, and work we do... in the home, in the garden, helping friends, creating projects for home, for gifts, etc. The list goes on. I believe the whole idea of "retirement" should be more a matter of switching from one kind of working (for someone else, for profit, etc.) to another kind of working (around your home, for your family and friends, for yourself, etc.)

    I hope your next phase of "work" will be something amazing!

    Here from the pit stop.

    Blessings,
    Babychaser
    mamasbrush.wordpress.com

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    1. What a lovely response - and I don't think homeschooling SIX kids counts as not working! You are completely amazing! I understand what you're saying and I like the idea that there's other forms of "work" that don't have to involve being part of the paid workforce. Investing in others rather than in the almighty dolllar makes a lot of sense.

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