How to Survive the Last Few Years Before Retirement: A Tongue-in-Cheek Guide

There’s something to be said for being the seasoned professional. I mean, there’s a certain level of respect one gets from being in a job for 33+ years. And there’s an expectation of responsibility to mentor and train new employees.

Okay, let’s think about this. Do you really want your seasoned professionals who have absorbed layers of negativity and unsavory experiences over the years to train your wide-eyed, enthusiastic new-hires? I would suggest you keep these two polar-opposites as far away from one another as possible. Let’s face it. The seasoned professionals have a totally different outlook on work life. This crowd is just trying to survive.

Here’s a short-list of survival tactics all short-timers in the world-of-work need to know:

  • The passion you have for your job might still be there, but it’s like any other passion that has changed as you’ve aged. Don’t beat yourself up over the fact that at one time you lived to work, and now you just work to live until that retirement check comes rolling in. It’s hard to keep the fire burning, if you know what I mean.
  • Be sure to keep your emotions off of your face. This skill becomes much harder with age. You will not successfully navigate your final working years with the following expressions regularly appearing: 1.) WTH! 2.) WTF! 3.) OMG WTF!
  • Similarly, you must remember that eye-rolling is not a private activity. People see that stuff, and they take offense. Trust me.
  • It is important that you remember you do not look the same as you did when you began your job. Time takes its toll. Therefore, the 20 and 30-somethings running around are not your best gauge for self-evaluation. They are you 30 years ago. Don’t be envious. Don’t be snarky. You need to wear your Spanx and your comfortable shoes and get over yourself.
  • Yes, you have been around forever, and you have been a part of some pretty phenomenal accomplishments over the years, but you must realize things change. Slap that hand over your mouth every single time you find yourself starting to say, “But we used to….” Just shut up and go with it.
  • Inevitably, at some point, your boss will be the same age as your children. Do not refer to him as “Junior,” or her as “Missy.” It will only make the last few years beyond awkward, not to mention a living hell.
  • When a digital-techno-savvy 20-something co-worker suggests a new app, function, program, technological nightmare — nod, smile, and then run to your boss’s office, close the door, and politely say, “I have 2 years. No way. Not doing it. Count me out! Dock my pay!”
  • It’s Friday around noon and all the younger folk at work are discussing Happy Hour. Of course, you aren’t getting a formal invite. I mean, if you show up, okay. You don’t really care because your survival technique is knowing you can drink every one of those armatures under the table. So you go to your local bar for dollar beers and get hammered on 10-bucks while they spend $10 on one drink. Wisdom comes with age!
  • Do not…and I repeat, DO NOT expect anyone to care about any of the following, so refrain from engaging in conversation on these topics while on break: pictures of your dog, pictures of your vacations, doctor appointment results, new medications, and great reading material.
  • If you find yourself wanting to comment on any of the following concerning co-workers, JUST DON’T: hair color, wardrobe choices, work ethic, intelligence or lack there of, or choice of partners.

The light doesn’t get bigger fast enough

Well, there you have it. The “up” side of being ready for retirement is you can see the the light at the end of the tunnel. The “down” side is the light doesn’t get bigger fast enough.

Everyone knows that person in their workplace who should have called it quits a long time ago. But the harsh reality is we have to hang on far longer than our spirit allows. We must drag our feet to work every day just to procure that big, fat retirement check. It is what it is. No worries, soon I’ll be sleeping in, having lunch with friends every day, and passing the torch to the next person who is getting close to retirement. The cycle goes on and on…and on and on.


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