Let’s figure that by the time you near retirement, you have been a member of the working masses for 30 plus years – a pretty reasonable assumption if you started at age 21 or thereabouts. During all those years hard at it chances are you developed a regular schedule for your days. Get up at the same time, go through your morning ritual of newspaper-breakfast-coffee, make the ever-so-enjoyable commute to your place of employment, work, return home, and roll into your evening routine. It is easier to fall into a routine that works for you than to try to figure out each day what to do next. And there is a certain comfort in predictability.
Now that you are retiring, a little routine can help in ways you may not have considered prior to your arrival.
As a retiree, how you choose to spend your time each day depends on you. You have earned the right to do what you want when you want for as long as you want. This freedom is one of the great rewards of retired living. But along with freedom can come challenges. What will you do now that you can do anything you want? There are a lot of hours that make up the many days ahead. If you retire at 65 you can hope for 20 or more years of retirement. And if you are like most of us, you want to make the most of each.
I find a little routine provides a nice framework for the day. Admittedly I am a pretty organized person. My wife may upgrade that description to obsessive but it works for me. As I live my “trial retirement” until the official move to 100 percent retired status, I have a handful of activities I do throughout my normal day. Without the requirements of a job, having a routine helps me stay engaged and active. I don’t hover in bed even though nothing specific needs to be done. Instead I make it a point to get up and around by 7:00. Getting up at a regular time each day allows me to take advantage of what is for me a high energy time of day. I have always been a morning person.
Here is a typical day. I begin with breakfast and the newspaper – I recently added doing the daily crossword puzzle to help get my mental juices flowing. Coffee in hand, I head to the computer to write/blog/create/see what is new in the world for a few hours. Next it is time for a workout alternating between weights, stationary bike or yoga. Then lunch followed by an hour walk in the neighborhood sometimes to the local store to gather provisions for dinner. Back home and a bit more computer. Then comes my “elective period” when I will spend some time in the garden or engage in various home projects or read or play the piano or watch the grass grow, whatever suits my fancy for that particular day. Time for a little TV where I watch an hour show recorded earlier (no time for commercials in my retired life!). Somewhere between 2:30-4:00 I typically grow a bit restless and feel the need to get out of the house one more time. The perfect opportunity for a quick trip to the store or neighborhood coffee spot. Upon my return a little preparation for the evening meal and suddenly it is time for the 5:00 news.
My routine works for me. Yours may be something entirely different. But having a set of regular activities to occupy your time may help to avoid that what-do-I do-now feeling sometimes experienced by seniors. There is nothing worse for a healthy retiree than to find herself bored. All of the promises of living the retirement dream amount to little if you are unhappy and unsatisfied with the life you live.
The good news is since you are master-of-the-schedule you are not forced you to stick to the plan. If you want to deviate a bit or depart entirely, you are free to do so. You can change the routine and change it back or not – you are in control. And you are always free to expand your horizons and try new things. Remember you write the rules in your retirement.
For me, that little framework for the day helps me feel that although retired, my day is far from empty and I better get to it. There are things that I should be doing, things that I enjoy doing. The good news is in retirement, I get to decide what those things are.
Time for my workout – enjoy your day and enjoy your retirement.