Old man in garden reading

My story – FJ

Adapted from the Guardian and anonymised.

As a senior partner at one of the major financial services companies, JF managed the big accounts. He worked away for much of the week only seeing his wife and family at weekends and during holidays. Only after leaving at 58 did JF realise he hadn’t prepared for life after the big job. He had no hobbies or interests and far too much time to fill. While at work, he felt valued and competent; at home, he felt adrift in his wife’s world.

Having not prepared for his new life he spent two years trying to find out who he had become now he’s no longer in a position of power.

“My balance has definitely shifted,”

“I was what I did five days a week.”

“I feel like this new kid on the block in this domestic environment. The only place I’m vaguely competent is the garden.”

JF was the traditional breadwinner. In this respect, he overachieved.

“We were incredibly well paid,”

“You become much more spiky and ruthless about what you do with your time.”

“When I was at home [before retirement], it was the king returning before he went away again. It’s very levelling – i.e. diminishing.”

During the first year of retirement, he threw himself into new projects.

One such project was his relationship with his wife. Reflecting on what went wrong when he retired, he counsels younger people not to become obsessed with work and to develop constructive hobbies; in short, spread their identity across a larger field.

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