As I navigate my day to day retirement I am discovering there is nothing better than enjoying the freedom to do what you want with your time. Rather than facing the burden of a list of to-dos assigned by someone else I can now journey down those paths leading to those things I really care about. Instead of sweating it out as I prepare for the hot seat that is a quarterly “sales numbers meeting” I can meander throughout my garden pruning a dead leaf here, fertilizing a needy plant there, adding a bit of water where needed. Rather than face the stressful chore of firing an underperforming employee I can now spend my efforts creating the perfect cappuccino with just the right amount of foam, minimal bitterness and that velvety smooth finish. My power lunch meetings now include only those people I choose to be with where we discuss topics that are mutually interesting and the only pressure is who will be quickest on the draw to snatch the incoming bill first.
Doing what you want can be wonderfully invigorating. Each day offers the potential for something new. And equally important you are able to enjoy yourself at a pace that fits me. There is no need to rush. There are no life or death deadlines pending. Before I get out of bed I cannot tell if I will start the day in a state of high energy or so-so energy or no energy. Now that I am retired I can shape my days activities according to how I feel once the first cup of coffee is coursing through my veins. Rather than forcing myself to perform at a level above where I am comfortable I can make adjustments to my plans to better insure a complementary fit.
Along with living at a pace that fits me for the present moment I am free to stop what I am doing midstream. Imagine starting a project that you can quit at any time. It can be very empowering. I am an organized guy. If I need to get something done I put it on a list. (It sometimes drives my wife a little crazy that the only way to insure my doing what I commit to is to add the activity to that list.) But the nice thing about retirement is I only have to stay at it as long as I want. For example, our new backyard is bigger than what we had before. And there is a lot to do from weeding to moving plants to getting rid of a diversity of refuse discarded by the previous owners. If you look at all that needs to be done it can quickly feel overwhelming. So I break it into smaller more manageable projects that I can stop at any time. Prune and fertilize the roses but not all at once (there are over 80 bushes!). Clean up the old leaves but one area at a time. Collect and throw out the garbage but don’t try to do it all at once. It has taken me awhile to feel comfortable stopping before a project is completely finished. But I now accept that I can quit when I want and pick up where I left off tomorrow – or the next day. Without that pressure to get it done I am better able to enjoy what I am doing in the moment. When the enjoyment diminishes I can head off to something more interesting.
For some living at that relaxed retirement pace is not automatic. Making the transition from full time work to full time retirement can be challenging. My first six months were a bit unnerving as I tried to teach myself how to slow down. My wife is going through a similar situation. She is two months into her retirement and still feels she should be doing something more. I encourage her to see what is out there that she may enjoy doing whether volunteering or part time work or whatever. I believe to really enjoy a relaxing and meaningful retirement it is important to have a wide variety of interests and passions. You need a curiosity that keeps you asking questions and searching for new experiences. Try to learn it is okay to live at a pace that suits you. And be comfortable with the reality that you will not necessarily accomplish something earth shattering every day. But that is okay. It can be just as rewarding if you look back at the day passed and find yourself smiling. Feeling good is what retirement is meant for. You just have to get used to living on retirement time and then not waste a minute.