Decide what’s important in life when facing retirement

David Scott is guest columnist.

If the moment hasn’t already happened, know that it will.

You will come to a point in your life when you will have to make a life-changing decision. While you may now think it is an easy decision to make, when the time comes, you may find yourself agonizing over it as I did.

My issue was retirement. Should I? Could I? If this was a financial issue, the answer would be easy. But for me, it was a lifestyle issue. I loved being productive. Working had become a habit that I felt guilty about breaking.

On the other hand, there are things I wanted to do that my work prevented me from doing. Ironically, it is the things that I wanted to do that kept me working. Let me explain;

I wanted to meet a woman with whom I could make a new life. That has always been easy, except this time I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than someone who loved me for who I am, not what I have. At my age, that meant slim pickings. I find that those who value relationships over things have been married for many years. Work, though stressful, provided a greater hope of satisfaction even though it kept me traveling, making it difficult to find those few still single.

I wanted to live part-time or full-time in South or Central America. While on assignment, I became familiar with Ecuador and Costa Rica. They are great places to retire. Places where I could exchange the rat race for easy living without the stress. But without someone of like-mind to share it with, I would have had to continue to get my pleasure from work.

I was ready to retire, but I couldn’t seem to justify it. I loved helping people accomplish their objectives (being a spoke in the wheel). However, without something, or someone, meaningful to devote my attention to, retirement would be more like just waiting to die at a time when I should be starting to live.

So here is what I did. I went ahead and moved to Ecuador. As a writer, if necessary, I could work from anywhere just by being willing to limit the type of writing assignments I accepted.

When I became restless, I wrote about my move to Ecuador. Because I didn’t have to go anywhere to do this, I was available to spend plenty of time socializing with the locals and other English-speaking residents. I didn’t have to learn Spanish, although learning the national language was advantageous. (I am still working on my Spanish).

Less than one year later, four articles and three trips back to the U.S., I found the love of my life. Now I have been granted permanent residency in Ecuador, I have a loving woman to return to, and I am enjoying life on my terms.

I have found that when you have a difficult decision to make, decide what is truly important in life and go for it. It won’t be easy, but we rarely get second chances to do it right.

David Scott is a freelance writer living in Cuenca, Ecuador, and North Charleston.