Yes, I have hit the milestone of 55 and as with most birthdays spent a little time in reflection. This is when the well known phrase “Freedom 55”, a name still used by a division of the London Life insurance company, popped into my head.
In my twenties and thirties, I remember a barrage of advertising, featuring good-looking couples in their fifties, doing fun things such as cycling, and sailing, bouncing grandchildren and enjoying themselves, all without a care in the world. None of them were stuck in traffic or chained to an office desk.
Why then are so many, still chained to their work into their sixties and beyond? Is the cause, the economic crisis, falling interest rates, rising interest rates, global warming? I am sure there are many answers and opinions on this, after all if it was so easy we would all be retired, we would all be free or would we?
For the last sixteen months, Michael and I have been “free”, free from the routine of work, free to travel, free to work on our bucket lists and free to explore new ventures. This is not because we won the lottery or where independently wealthy but because we made the biggest decision of our lives.
We decided to reinvent ourselves. One of the biggest challenges we faced was to learn to think of ourselves as something other than our usual professions. Michael has been an engineer for 27 years–he has invested in that identity–throughout university and his working life that is how he thought of himself. To change that identity, to become something else or do something else, is a huge challenge for many. Is that ingrained sense of identity, so strongly linked to a person’s profession keeping them from achieving their freedom? Or is it the fear of change?
Change is frightening; we know we went through it. What we also know is that change is necessary for growth, after all a plant grows or it dies. I was 53 years old when we started on this change, this growth; it has been uncomfortable, scary, demanding, exhilarating, fulfilling, sad yet funny and very enlightening.
At 55 years of age, I have freedom to follow my bliss, to do what I want to do, whether that is, sleep in, write or stroll along the beach. Even if it does involve some perturbation Freedom 55 is obtainable.
We look forward to hearing about your challenges and successes, have you made it to freedom?