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Retirement philosophies vary wildly

Douglas County residents Tom Compher and Debbie MacCary are retirees who have structured retirement differently.

Article and photo by Barbara Neff

As the retirement option presents itself, some embrace it fully, some embrace it with modifications, and some avoid it altogether.

Castle Pines resident Donna Wolf could be retired. However, she continues her career as a senior software engineer because she wants to. The economic benefits to continuing the full-time work she loves are a consideration, but Wolf explained that her primary motive for delaying retirement is fear of the void leaving the workplace would create. “Work is definitely a social outlet for me,” said Wolf. “I know I would miss that and I don’t know exactly how I would replace it.”

Debbie MacCary, also of Castle Pines, enthusiastically embraced leaving the workforce six years ago. MacCary, a retired educator, plunged into retirement and has not looked back. “I missed the kids and the colleagues,” says MacCary, “but I had many plans for retirement.”

As an educator, MacCary had enjoyed summers off, which, she explained, helped her get a taste of what retirement life might be like. She now travels, participates in a book club, paddleboards, snow skis, makes pottery, enjoys concerts, spends time with grandchildren, golfs and more. “I have not had time to be bored!” MacCary exclaimed.

A third philosophy includes incorporating new work after retirement, as Tom Compher, a retired fireman living in Castle Rock, has done. Compher found his new life as a retiree less than satisfying. Only eight or nine months into retirement, Compher said he was ready for a work commitment. Compher stated bluntly, “I was bored.” Today, Compher works full time as a security guard to help stay connected, fill his time, and to help with living expenses.

According to author Jamie Chamberlin in her article, “Retiring minds want to know” (January 2014), the emphasis in the field of retirement planning is on assets, and much less so on emotional well-being.

Chamberlin wrote, “People need to invest as much if not more time in their social or psychological portfolio planning before retirement, to figure out what makes them happy.”

Leaving the workplace no doubt presents challenges. How and when the retirement transition occurs is a personal thing. There is no one size fits all. As with any major chapter ending and chapter beginning, leaving the workplace and embarking on a retiree journey warrant careful planning.



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