An official definition of retirement is:
The action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.
Nope, that doesn't fit me at all. I'm working as hard as ever, but I no longer receive monetary compensation for my efforts. A dictionary definition of refocused is:
Focus (attention or resources) on something new or different.
That is closer, and I use this word in my answer when asked if I am retired or still working. My reply is: "I am refocused, but not retired.". Let me explain.
I reached my full retirement age of 66 last year. I am a techie through and through; I received an MS in Computer Science in 1980 and have had a long 40+ year career riding the tech wave. My decades of experience include several individual contributor roles as both developer and architect. My resume includes leadership roles such as Chief Information Security Officer and Vice President of Engineering. I taught computer science full-time at the college level for several years. And I've been a consultant multiple times, including my last stint as a due-diligence consultant assessing companies against best practices. My consulting business was booming; I loved the technical variety and the flexibility to work as much or as little as I wanted. It was lucrative, and I planned to continue for the foreseeable future.
So what happened? Life happened. In November 2019, my then-ten-year-old grandson was diagnosed with a (100% fatal) brain tumor, and he passed away ten months later. I pivoted to using all of my technical talents and energies to start a non-profit whose flagship application is here: https://sibsforever.org.
I've written a few articles about this journey during the last couple of years:
Becoming a web developer at 66 years old (for my non-profit)
Becoming a Data Scientist at 67 years old, Part 1
A while back, I wrote a story about becoming a web developer at 66 years old (for my non-profit). I am a decent web…
Yes, I still work on the computer many hours each day, but I've made mental and physical health a key pillar in my life, and it has been a significant contributor to my refocused successes. Let me share my typical day:
- Technical work from 6 AM — 1 PM. I use an ergonomic stool which forces me to use my core strength and a straight back for a healthy sitting position.
- Home Workouts from 1 PM — 3 PM.
The last time I went back to a gym was before the pandemic started. I configured my guesthouse as a workout studio, complete with a sprung floor, full weight set, yoga gear, ballet barre, surround sound, etc. I have to exercise more to retain my current fitness than when I was younger. But I love to exercise and relish the feelings and joy accompanying it. I do equal amounts of cardio, weight training, and flexibility. For cardio, I prefer cardio dance, kickboxing, and step aerobics. My three days of weight training include an hour of an upper-body weight workout (including abs), an hour focused on lower-body weight training (including abs), and an hour of full-body weighted exercises. I am a huge yogi and do between three and four hours of yoga weekly using an online membership to a local yoga studio.
- Play musical instruments (3:00 PM — 4:30 PM).
I have played musical instruments most of my life. Even in college, I've always had a piano (rented or owned). I've recently started playing cello and viola. I found a teacher who could teach me both instruments in a single lesson, and I drive to her studio on alternate weeks. My piano is tuned, and I'm practicing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (the Liszt piano transcription), which I find challenging.
Walking my two dogs several miles daily ensures I leave the house and clear my mind, which is critical to my circadian rhythm and overall well-being.
Although this refocused pivot was not planned and was born from circumstances and passion, I cannot fathom leaving the non-profit world ever again.