Saturday, December 6, 2008

Intellectual Stimulation

Last month, I had the opportunity to get together with a bunch of my grad schoolmates from UB in the Bay Area. The range of topics that got covered was refreshing. It reminded me of what I miss about not working.

Out of the three things I used to get from my work, I mostly miss only one. The income would help, especially given what the market has done to my savings, but I don’t miss it all that much. The gratification of hearing colleagues praise the work I did (psychic income) would be great as well, but I don’t miss that either. These days, I spend most of my time with my wife, and I have been married long enough to know that wives will never praise husbands the way they were praised at work.

So what I really miss is the intellectual stimulation. There were interesting problems (big and small) to solve, interesting tidbits that I would learn from colleagues during small talk and water-cooler chats. Over time people figure out what interests you and make it a point to mention that to you. That ‘food for thought’ is what I miss the most.

Theoretically, I know that I have to compensate for whatever it is that I am missing by actively seeking that out. I guess I can seek those out in websites, newspapers and magazines, but so far it doesn’t feel quite the same. It is the classic difference between Pull vs. Push. I liked having these things pushed to me.

Lesson: Before you retire or give up your work, try and figure out what you will miss. Maybe you can then figure out how to compensate for whatever that is.


Retired Syd said...

Yesterday I was watching the coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and heard myself asking the TV a bunch of questions that didn't get answered. So I went on the internet and spent about 3 hours reading the history of the conflict in the region. I just kept thinking of follow-up questions and searching for opinions on the answers.

I was involved in a debate with a friend over the conflict and realized how much I still needed answered.

This is what I love about retirement, having endless time to pursue exactly the intellectual stimuli that stimulate ME. Way more interesting than researching a tax planning issue, in my opinion!

Ram said...


Thanks, Syd.
Yes, we have a lot of time at hand, and the onus is on us to spend it wisely.
In my post, I was just trying to warn people that this is something they have to prepare for before giving up work (and the accompanying social interaction.)