If you retire at or around age 65 it is a reasonable hope to live a second act that stretches out for multiple decades. So long as you have saved enough, planned as best you can for various contingencies and are of general good health what you choose to do during that time will be for the most part up to you. It can be quite satisfying to realize you have made it this far and are now free to embark on an entirely new chapter, one that you control. After all the effort it took to get here it would be a shame to waste a single day.
It is not unheard of to arrive at the doorstep of retirement without having dedicated sufficient time to figuring out exactly what you will do to make the most of your days. Some spend more time planning for a two week vacation than they do for two decades of retired living. Without that insight, new retirees risk quickly finding themselves confused and disillusioned. We have waited for so long – now what?
One of the beauties of retirement is it can be different things to different people. Each of us has the opportunity to create a retirement best tailored to our personal tastes and likes. A little customization goes a long way to start us down the right path and can assist in our successful navigating the retirement jungle.
What do you want in your retirement?
Make up for lost time
Some are forced to neglect passions and interests they could not make time for during busy work lives. Now that you control 24/7 of your day you have the opportunity to take another shot at those illusive past pleasures. For example, if you have always dreamed of travel this is your chance. Not only do you have time to look for the best deals perhaps taking advantage of last minute specials as they pop up you also have time to research in depth where you are going. Understanding a little something about the history and culture of a destination can make your trip that much more memorable.
Whatever the dream put on hold retirement gives you a second chance. Discover the artist inside, release the musician denied, loose the architect or landscaper or gardener previously held at bay, or free the creative quilter locked away. Whatever you may desire, here is your chance to make up for lost time.
Build a better you
Living in retirement affords us time to think, to contemplate who we are and consider our place in the world. Without the rush and stress of a job, we can better control the pace of our day. Not all days are the same. Some we feel ready to tackle the world head on. Others we prefer a slower more gradual immersion. In retirement we have more control to live each day in a way that best mirrors our personal mindset.
As you spend more time with your own thoughts it is conceivable you may discover small quirks and imperfections in the person you are. A bad habit here an undesirable tendency there – none of us is perfect. With this knowledge in hand and empowered by a new control of your time you can now take steps toward self-improvement.
Spend time with people you want
For me, one of the least desirable aspects of the working world was spending time locked away in “strategic” meetings. Typically these meetings included one or two particularly verbose people who felt it their duty to monopolize the discussion preventing those captive from doing meaningful work elsewhere. If I wanted to keep my job I had no choice but to grin and bear it, patiently waiting for the blessed end. These days I choose who I spend my time with. A couple of our kids just left after spending the weekend with my wife and I. We had an awesome time alternating cooking of tasty meals, hiking Point Lobos, playing dominoes and just hanging out. I laughed harder than I have in a long time. We caught up on life and just enjoyed being together. It is this type of moment I want to foster. And now that I am retired that is exactly what I plan to do.
Make a difference
The world if filled with people and organizations and causes that can use help. Retirees have the luxury of free time and so the fit is a natural. Many find satisfaction putting their time to productive use as a volunteer. Some prefer being part of an organized entity. Others possess skills and passions to share including experience gleaned from careers or helping those whose life challenges in some way mirror their own. The level of help you offer need not be deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. A little goes a long way. The important thing is you can make a difference if you choose to.
Go along for the ride
It is possible the specifics of your retirement-to-be remain a bit nebulous. Perhaps you are just fine with taking each day as it comes, going with the flow. Maybe you achieved all you needed during the life leading up to retirement. With no impetus to strive for additional notches on your belt you find yourself happy without adhering to a detailed plan. It could be the simple act of escaping from day to day career life is in itself rewarding.
This “along for the ride” mentality can work. I happily follow this motivation part of the time, letting each day evolve as it may. But I find it equally important to try new things and find some meaning in the hours lived. The ride is ours to choose – the right combination of excitement and relaxation can be just the ticket.
Whatever your personal preference, retirement offers a variety of ways to find satisfaction, fulfillment, excitement and meaning. It is all about the journey. Good luck finding your way and enjoy.