Five Things I've Learned About Retirement

Paul Ingevaldson, former senior VP for international and IT with Ace Hardware, retired two years ago. He and his wife live in St. Charles, Ill., and Destin, Fla., with their loyal companion, Spencer.

I really can do what I want now. Ace gave me a Canon 20D digital SLR as a retirement present. I’ve now taken three digital photography courses. My best picture this year was a hummingbird approaching a feeder. I had to use a shutter speed of 1/5,000 second to achieve the desired effect.

During my 25 years at Ace I visited 68 countries, so I don’t have the wanderlust normally associated with retirees. However, my wife, Jean, and I will be visiting Italy and New Zealand this year—two countries that I haven’t been to. I would like to go to Antarctica too.

I still care about IT. I don’t miss the meetings. Or alarm clocks. Or personnel reviews. But I have lunch often with my former colleagues because it gives me a chance to keep up to date with people and projects. I have also written columns (some of which have appeared in CIO) about IT governance and management. And I have been a substitute instructor in the MBA program of a local university and have given a keynote presentation at a project management conference.

Integrity is the key to success. As a manager, you make a lot of mistakes. People will accept bad decisions if you show them that your intentions were honorable and that you made these decisions in a proper manner. But if your boss or your subordinate loses trust in you, then you’re lost.

You have to be in charge of your life. You care more about it than anyone else. It’s up to you to manage your career. You shouldn’t expect that by just doing your job, good things will happen to you. Same thing with retirement. It’s important to plan ahead so you can develop an interest in something that will keep your juices flowing—and so that you can decide where you want to live based on what you want to do and who you want to do it with.

It’s OK to do nothing. The summer after I retired was the first since my teen years when I really had nothing I had to do. I spent my days in the hammock reading. It was nirvana!

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