Remember the good ol’ days? Like 2019? Remember when retiring meant leaving work for the last time to sit by a lake? Now when you are retired, it just means you are tired again. 

I started thinking about retiring the first day I saw my first patient. Unfortunately, what I thought then was, “That’s so far away. I think I will buy stuff in the meantime.” That worked out quite well because, looking around my house, I do indeed have a lot of stuff.

Kiss the Old Dream Goodbye

Many OD Baby Boomers are still looking forward to the 2019 idea of retirement: finally learning how to golf, traveling the world, buying that convertible and selling the practice to some earnest, wet-behind-the-ears young doctor. 

Well, let’s face it: (A) you will never learn how to golf—even Tiger Woods doesn’t have that figured out, (B) traveling the world could be hazardous to your health, (C) it’s too hot/cold/windy/wet to ever drive with the top down and (D) those earnest, wet-behind-the-ears young doctors seem to have disappeared into the free-eye-exam-with-glasses snake pit. 

Besides, with the fear of COVID-19, your depression after the election and the fact that your stinky Aunt Francie needs a place to stay—indefinitely—maybe you should just never retire and work until they pry your retinoscope from your cold, dead hand.  

A New Outlook

Don’t worry, you can still retire. You might have to give up your monthly shipment of Bulgarian beef jerky. Maybe you will have to wear the same khaki pants you wore last year. When the kids invite you out to dinner, you won’t fight over the bill. 

But retirement doesn’t mean you don’t do anything. Here’s an example: I know a very successful optometrist who sold his practice (for a pittance of its worth) to some ne’er- do-well ophthalmologists and retired to be close to his kids. His idea of retirement? Working twice the hours for half the money. Ok, it’s me. 

But I actually love optometry 98.67% of the time. Helping patients and driving them mad with stories of my grandchildren between number ones and twos makes me happy and keeps me young. To me, that’s much better than throwing $90 worth of golf balls into lakes all day. Although I do have some experience with that, too. 

I learned quickly that you have to do something when you retire. Otherwise, your spouse will kill you if you just mope around all day. 

My younger brother just retired after almost 40 years in the oil and gas industry. He has always worked hard and is one of the finest men I know. He has a wonderful family, a beautiful wife and a darling granddaughter. He has earned his retirement and now catches fish from his kayak when he’s not riding his bike. 

I never, ever rub it in his face that I have six grandchildren. Never. Brothers are never competitive like that. Yes, I have six. My brother only has one. Just one. I have six. 

So, where are you on your retirement journey? Just starting out with a zillion dollars in student debt and living in mom’s attic? Starting to see your bank account edge into the black and already shopping for a cooler car? Mid-career and shocked that you could be so successful (or unsuccessful, depending on your trajectory)? You’re still eating, right? That’s a sign of success.