About LoveBeingRetired

Dave Bernard is a California born and raised author and blogger with an extensive 30 year career in Silicon Valley. He has written more than 300 blogs for US News & World On Retirement and his personal blog Retirement –Only the Beginning. Dave has written three books to date: "Are you just existing and calling it a life?"; "I want to retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be"; and " Navigating the Retirement Jungle". He has been quoted in various articles and magazines including The Wall Street Journal, The Times of India, Prevention Magazine and Erickson Tribune. Dave lives in sunny California with his wife and a shared passion for the San Jose Sharks.

Living On Retirement Time

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 Couple with Balloonsenergy. 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.

Retirement Checklist Revisited

Back in 2010 when I wrote my first post for Retirement – Only the Beginning I did not realistically have much of an understanding of what it meant to be retired. I knew or at least hoped I would retire sometime down the road. As for what that retired life would look like I was pretty clueless. That ultimately became the motivation for my blog – figuring out what I could do to best prepare myself to live a fulfilling meaningful retirement. And as I have reiterated in past blogs the focus of my efforts was on those many important considerations other than financial. Although money is a key piece of the puzzle I was convinced there was much more to living happily retired than just a fat wallet. The trick was to figure exactly what those pieces were before rather than after retirement commenced.

As the years progressed I began to better comprehend the challenges as well as opportunities that awaited me. I started digging into what I thought would matter most in my second act. What would I do, what was important to me, what would challenge me and keep me engaged, and ultimately what would make me happy? I began to create a mental checklist – a work perpetually in progress. Over the years I have modified my checklist making an addition here and a deletion there.

Here are a few of what I have identified as most important considerations to foster a happy retirement. Let’s see how things are progressing as I enter year number three of retired bliss.

Take time to smell the roses

In other words learn to enjoy life. After 30 years living at a pace slightly slower than the speed of light it is not easy to take it down a notch. In the startup world the focus has always been on getting more and more done in less and less time. Rolling into retirement in this state of mind was not a good idea – at all. In the early days of retirement I felt guilty if I was not doing something “meaningful” with every free moment. I was unable to enjoy Welcome Flowerthe freedom I have since learned can be a most satisfying part of each day. But I am getting better. For example, in our new home we have a lot of roses – I’m talking about more than 80 bushes sprinkled around the property. My first instinct was to tear out the thirty-or-so in the front and replace them with saw grass, ornate lava rocks and a splash of low-maintenance color. I had a picture clearly in my mind and was planning the changes from the first day we moved in. Then I began to look more closely at the roses, to see them for the beauties they really were. Colors ran the gamut from yellow to blood red to peppermint. Wonderful aromas wafted up from each as I sniffed them in turn. Maybe it made sense to enjoy them a bit before taking any drastic action. Why not keep an eye and a nostril on them for a year or two and see if we like them as they are. What was the hurry? It sounds simple but coming from my do it now background this was monumental. This morning I cut a sample from four bushes to create a bouquet for the kitchen that reinforces my decision to take it easy, don’t be in a hurry, just smell the roses (literally). I have to say I am enjoying this healthier happier pace.

Be sure to sync up retirement plans with your spouse

As I have shared earlier my wife recently joined me in retirement. Until then she was hard at work while I endeavored to perfect the retired life we would live by getting started early. As she inched closer to her final months we began to discuss in more detail just what was ahead. There are views we hold in common and some where we differ. Nothing surprising here as that could describe any time in our relationship. But in retirement we are learning to pay closer attention. Since we are together 24/7 little annoyances might grow in significance if ignored. On the other hand by sharing openly we may discover shared interests we have ignored and now have time to explore. I think the retirement sync will be ongoing. What has helped us is a willingness to discuss and compromise. Another work in progress but we are making progress.

Try to be healthy in body and mind

It is not always easy to squeeze in time for exercise when you are working 60 hour weeks. And when you finally have a spare moment you are more likely to collapse than drop and give 50 pushups. Retirement is a whole different ball game. You are now in control of your time. What I love about this freedom is I don’t have to force a workout into a designated time slot. I can get my exercise when I feel most inspired to do so. Of course sometimes I have to push myself a little should the inspiration fail to materialize. Eating right is also less challenging once retired. Instead of scarfing a sandwich during a fleeting five minute window you can prepare a more balanced tasty repast. We have located the best French bakery in the area (think fresh baguette) along with the closest weekly farmers market (think fresh fruit and veggies and local fish) and a cheese shop to end all (fromage!). I look forward to meals as we creatively combine local goodies never sure exactly what we will end up with but always pleased. We all know how important it is for our health and wellbeing to get regular exercise and eat well. Retirement can provide the time and flexibility to take care of yourself like you should.

Unleash the creative you

Retirees have free time on their hands. How they choose to spend it is entirely up to them. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to keep busy. If what you do is what you enjoy, keep doing it. I have found retirement a good time to revisit old passions as well as investigate new things. I like to write (blogging), I love music (back at the piano keys), I love nature (hiking nearby park or walking coastal paths), I have discovered a previously unknown love for Paris (taking history classes, learning the language, and visiting when I can), and I am trying my hand at cooking. Who knows what might be next. Doing what I want when I want makes retirement pretty special. I can’t wait for tomorrow!