The first few days as a retired employee were not what I expected. Well, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew that I’d be overjoyed about my unbridled freedom to live fully in the world of writing that I love. I felt strongly that it was the right time to step out in faith while I was still “young” enough to have the energy to cover ground at a faster rate. Financially, I knew that it would be super tight, but I couldn’t go a day longer living unfulfilled. I could not get over the fact that the only person I now work for is the one that I see in the mirror! It felt SO weird!

That’s because I have always worked, going from one job to the next without a break. Memories over the years of my life as an employee kept popping up out of the blue. I thought about the hours that I worked after school at a veterinary clinic when I was in high school to getting an office job before my first semester at college. I’ll never forget how ecstatic I was when the interviewer offered me $4.50 an hour instead of the $3.35 minimum wage! In my struggling college student’s mind, I thought I was RICH! It was a part-time clerical position, and they worked around my schedule throughout college. That work experience allowed me to qualify for and eventually have a long-lasting civil service career.

Once the super fun retirement parties with coworkers, friends and family were over, I hit the ground running! Pure excitement. Book world here I come! On my first day in retirement, I participated in an author book-signing library event. I wanted to surround myself with other authors and live that day doing exactly what I loved, since it was the reason why I retired early in the first place. It was my own personal morale booster.

I woke up that second morning, pulled down my wall calendar and logged upcoming writers’ meetings and workshops (not just weekend ones but weekdays, too!), registered for conferences, networked, tended to household stuff, and so on and so forth until Day Five when I ran out of steam. I was exhausted. As I lounged on the couch that afternoon, it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet hopped off the hamster wheel. I was so used to go-go-go that I forgot it didn’t have to be that way, at least for now. It was okay to shift down a gear or so and catch my breath. I’m a lifelong migraine headache sufferer, and I know it’s not good for my health to push like that. I took the pace down a bit and reminded myself that the road to success is not a race…it’s a marathon.

As I said in my last blog post Free to Chase my Dreams, our days aren’t promised and our health isn’t even guaranteed. I hope that you’re taking a leap of faith this year. Look at how more than a month has already passed in 2018! It is time! You’ve got to do it! If you need inspiration, watch Steve Harvey’s You Have to Jump video on YouTube (click on the video title underlined link to view). I listened to it often prior to retirement, but I can’t tell you how many times I replayed it after jumping.

You see, I started having doubts that maybe I shouldn’t have retired so soon. I worried if my expenses will outweigh what I bring in and cutting back won’t be enough to support myself until my business gains momentum. I had to fight off the thoughts of the higher percentage amount I would have received if I had stayed at my job more years.

But you know what? Every time that I watched Steve’s video, he reminded me of the reasons for my decision to retire in the first place. Steve says that getting up and going to work on a job every day that you don’t love isn’t living…it’s just existing. “You’re gonna have bills” whether you jump or not made me chuckle at how true that is. He says that every successful person has taken a chance and jumped; it’s the “only way to get to that abundant life.”

I hope you’ll consider taking a chance this year. If you’re not quite ready, I understand. Ride along with me. I’ll do my best to share my insights and experiences in this journey with you. There’s no turning back now for me. I’ve shut the gate on the past and am moving forward. My heart overflows with dreams which need to come to fruition. They must, and I believe they will. It’s why I jumped.

Denise Lee Branco
February 11, 2018 

“Before you leave this world, before you die, jump. Just jump one time. Just jump.”
-Steve Harvey, Bestselling Author & TV Host