How do you ease into retirement after a career like David Letterman’s? The answer: You don’t.
For more than a year now, David Letterman, whose late-night TV hosting run was the longest ever, with more than 6,000 shows under his belt, has been retired. The New York Times recently talked to him in an insightful — and sometimes melancholy — interview about his life after “The Late Show.”
At moments, the funnyman was just that — funny. He joked about his ability to hit up Target
during the middle of a weekday, “I’m the guy who holds up lines because he always thinks he has the correct change. ‘How much was that? I think I may have the 87 cents.’ ” And about his 12-year-old son: “I will just say that all of the negative qualities, I think, are from his mother’s side. All the positive, uplifting qualities seem to come from the Letterman side. And I don’t mean that as an insult, no.”
But the interview revealed deeper insights that all retirees or soon-to-be retirees could benefit from. Here are three bits of retirement wisdom from the 69-year-old Letterman:
You may feel a little lost (and that’s OK)
Many retirees have a hard time adjusting to retirement, as adapting to it can include big psychological hurdles, including “coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse, and finding new and engaging ways to stay active,” according to research from the American Psychological Association. “People can go through hell when they retire,” Robert Delamontagne, author of the 2011 book “The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement,” told the APA.
Letterman, who since his retirement has grown a bushy beard, hints at the adjustment. “The beard is a good reminder to me that that was a different life,” he told the New York Times of his former career. “I’m hopeful that I will either find something else, or something else will be presented to me.”
Letterman is trying new things in his retirement, including working on a series about global warming for the National Geographic Channel. And that’s something retirement experts say will help you find what you truly want to do in retirement (and the accompanying happiness of that). “I keep saying, jeez, I still think I can do something,” he told the New York Times.
You’ll see your former career in a new light
To many of us, David Letterman had a dream career, and confidants of the star have said he thought so, too: “He told me once, not that long ago, that his happiest time in life is when he’s doing the show,” an old boss told the Indianapolis Star. And Letterman told the New York Times in 2015 , asked if he thought he was leaving the job too soon, that he was “awash in melancholia” and that he thought he’d “miss it, desperately.”
But fast-forward to the present, and Letterman seems to see things a bit differently: “I don’t miss late-night television,” he told the Times more recently. “And I’m a little embarrassed that, for 33 years, it was the laser focus of my life.”
He added: “Maybe life is the hard way, I don’t know. When the show was great, it was never as enjoyable as the misery of the show being bad.”
Travel will give you a new perspective
Travel is one of the top two goals for those thinking about retirement (the other is spending time with friends and family), according to the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies. “People see that travel provides them with a range of benefits, from improving their mood and lessening their stress to deepening their connections with other people,” according to the center. “Travel is seen as important for enjoying life.”
What’s more, it can be eye-opening, as Letterman recently discovered on a trip to India. “You talk about the energy of New York City — India makes New York City look like nap time,” he said. “The first day was very depressing. You smell what you think might be furniture burning, and it never leaves.”
“And then,” he added, “one day it would be exhilarating. What never seemed to waver was their optimism. The fact that there’s 1.2 billion people is, to them, an asset, where we would think, oh my God, what are we going to do?”
View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/david-lettermans-3-lessons-on-retirement-2016-10-19