As a baby boomer, I have, throughout life, been part of successive waves of “boomer” trends, from high unemploy- ment to competition for law school seats. But finally, by re- tiring early, I bucked one boomer
trend. After 26 years as a federal lawyer, and working
five years before law school, I retired at nearly 57.
That was the average retirement age in 1991
(Chris Weller, Newsweek, “Retiring Too Early Can
Kill You,” March 8, 2015). Now it is 62, with baby
boomers working longer than previous generations,
due to preference or financial concerns.
When my last employer, the Navy, offered early retirement, I jumped. I had been waiting, envying other
federal employees who retired early years before I
qualified. My reasons were deep-seated and varied,
personal and professional.
My husband (already long retired) and I had reviewed our finances. With some belt-tightening, we
decided, it could work. We would be happier, finally
free to enjoy more quality time together before it became too late.
Upon acceptance, no changes of mind were al-
lowed. Thereafter, two months of em-
ployment remained. That time flew. (I
spent most of it avoiding records act vio-
lations by deciding which emails, files,
and documents to save and where.)
The situation felt surreal. My emotions alternated between exhilaration,
panic, hollowness, anticipation, resignation, anxiety, regret, happiness, calm,
fear, disappointment, gratitude, sadness, relief, and disbelief.
For the most part, we are happier.
Initially, I thrilled at no longer needing
to rise to a 5: 45 a.m. alarm, don professional garb, and ride a half-hour to work.
It helped that I felt deserving of a long
vacation. At first, that’s what it felt like.
However, retirement realities soon
hit. More than three years later, the wisdom of retiring early sometimes seems
questionable. Retirement affords a wonderful sense of freedom. Yet it also presents uncontemplated challenges, some
perhaps unique to lawyers (and maybe
other professionals). Early retirement,
especially when abrupt, increases such
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN
TRANSITIONING TO YOUR
by Shelley K. Simcox