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WOSTER: Retirement planning, Yoda-style

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

I spent some time this past weekend considering what I might do if and when I retire.

What? No, I'm not necessarily there yet. At 70, though, I'm getting closer. I saw a clip on television awhile back that said successful retirement means starting the planning process several years ahead. I thought at first the clip referred to financial planning (way too late for me on that one) but they were talking more about, you know, planning ahead to be emotionally prepared to retire.

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Well, I figured I needed some expert advice, so I went to the modern oracle. I climbed to the top of the mountain, found the guru and asked the meaning of life. I looked it up on the Internet.

What I discovered left me with much about which to think.

"Tricky business, this retirement planning is,'' said the guru, who very much resembled Yoda from "Star Wars.''

Not really, but virtually every article I found (admittedly only on the first two pages of the dozens offered up by a Google search) said that being emotionally ready to quit a full-time job is indeed tricky business. It isn't just a matter of pulling the pin, putting in the papers, giving back the security ID and handing over the key to the executive washroom. It isn't simply hugs and handshakes all around and a merry skip down the stairs and out the door and no looking back. It isn't even straining and tugging and tearing the water cooler from the floor, tossing it through the window into the street, clambering out and striding off into the sunset to the theme music from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.''

(Back at the newspaper now and then -- even though I very much enjoyed the work and most of the people -- I sometimes envisioned that scene, with the water cooler bouncing off the pavement of Minnesota Avenue and reporters, photographers and editors standing in awe as I climbed out the window and down the side of the building. In the vision, I never had to wait for the "Walk" sign at the intersection with 10th Street, so clearly it was fantasy and not real life.)

No, retirement planning takes years and years, the articles said. Years and years. It's a matter of answering not necessarily the meaning of life question but rather the "what next'' question. Those who can do that are happier when they finally leave the workplace, the experts say. They also say it can take a while to figure out what's next. Fortunately, I have some time, but I decided to start working on the emotional side of not working.

The first tip said I should find out what I'm passionate about and then do more of that.

I had a friend who was passionate about fishing. He retired a while back, and he fishes and fishes. Me, I'm not feeling it when I try to imagine me out in a boat with rods and reels and hooks and bait and, like, bobbers and sinkers and Mepps lures. I think of me out fishing from now through eternity, and I think, "Can I have my old cubicle back? I'll work for half wages.'' And that's the first morning.

Another friend spends his retirement on the golf course. Really? I could dig out my semi-matched set of Wilson clubs with the Julius Boros autographs, but why not just take a long walk along the river instead? Speaking of that, I like to walk along the river on weekends, but every day? What happened to that cubicle again?

"Visualize who you want to become,'' one article recommends. I've been trying for 70 years. Suddenly retirement is going to give me the answer?

"Gradually implement lifestyle changes,'' says another. Like not showing up for work one day? That one's doable.

"Use your emotional intelligence,'' is another tip. Sure, as soon as I figure out what the dickens that means.

Finally, "A successful transition to post-retirement embraces the inherent psychological and emotional aspects of this process, thus contributing to overall well-being in the years to come.'' Wow. Where's Yoda when you need the little guy?

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