I Love Waking Up Retired

It is nice being retired. To this point living my post-employment life is pretty much what I have always wanted. I don’t miss ‘the job’. It is amazing how easy one can adapt to no stress, no deadlines, and no meetings. And since I still keep in touch with the important people, I have the best of both worlds. I am happy exploring all my second act has to offer.

What I do with the days is in my control. My calendar is filled only with those events I choose. When the phone rings I may pick it up or I may not. When noontime rolls around you may find me still wearing sweatpants or maybe jeans if I want to dress up. I can read or watch TV or go for a walk or blog or take a nap or garden or… You get the idea. It is truly wonderful to wake up and know the day ahead is mine to manipulate and shape into the best possible for me.

My wife and I are blessed in that we both have our health and should be able to make ends meet financially (knock on wood). We never take either of these for granted. That said here are a few major perks that come with being retired.

Freedom

Lying in bed as the sun lights up the bedroom there is no need to look at the clock. I don’t have to be somewhere at any particular time. I can enjoy the peaceful moment relaxing beneath the warmth of the covers as long as I want, perhaps even falling back to sleep. When I finally decide I am ready to get up I do – not before. My routine is no longer dictated by a job but rather by what I choose to do.

Rather than what must I do, my day can focus on what I want to do. I decide what hat I want to wear – productive citizen or slacker, seeker of adventure or happy observer from the sidelines, light hearted joker or deep contemplative. I am happily becoming accustomed to this new freedom of choice.

Flexibility

Without a hectic schedule set in stone I am able to go with the flow, my own personal flow. One day I may feel energized ready to be productive and attack to-dos I have accumulated. On the other hand I may feel lazy preferring to savor that second cup of coffee and revisit that engrossing new novel I just started. As a retiree I can be as productive or as lazy as I want. The only one keeping track is me.

Opportunity

Each day is a brand new 24 hours. How I choose to spend those hours is entirely up to me. I am only limited by my imagination and capabilities (and of course what is legal!). One day I may wake up full of energy and raring to go. On such a day I might jump in the car and head somewhere previously unvisited to hike and explore. Or I might attack a gardening project or find an exotic recipe to make for dinner. What I decide to do need not be anything monumental – just something I get satisfaction doing.

Time to take care of Dave

I know the importance of sustaining a healthy lifestyle and have always tried to do my part. I have my routines that cover weight lifting, cardio, and stretching. Although I have had to make some adjustments as I get older, I plan to continue as long as I can. While I no longer run for miles, I make time for a long walk wandering the neighborhood and nearby golf course along a path that follows a little babbling stream. I don’t lift what I used to but I still lift. And yoga has opened up a world that can help my flexibility and balance for the long term. Before I was retired I was forced to juggle my day and prioritize responsibilities in hopes I could get to my exercises. Often times I just could not squeeze in that time for Dave. Now I have the luxury to not only consistently get to my exercises but do so when I feel most motivated. If I don’t feel like riding the bike first thing in the morning, I can mount up later in the day. The good news is I have time. Of course now there are no excuses for not getting it done!

In addition to addressing the physical I am also able to make time for the mental side. In days gone by the frantic pace of life typically precluded any time for reflection or meaningful introspection. It is hard to pause when you are running at 100 miles per hour. Now in retirement I have the time. It can be something as simple as spending twenty minutes quietly in the backyard or taking that walk with my mind free of any burden or meditating peacefully in the front room. I now have the time to do it and I do.

I love waking up retired. Who knows what the day may hold. If I try to live each day in the best way possible doing what I really want and what matters to me the day will have been well spent.

Now That We Are Retired, What Next?

When you finally make the move to retirement the possibilities for good times to be had can seem endless. Instead of spending your time working for the man (or woman) you will find yourself in the enviable position of choosing to do what you actually want with your days. You are free to get up when you want, dilly-dally as you choose and spend your newfound freedom pursuing whatever interests you for the moment. Then move on if and when you are so inclined.

Rather than obsess over the company’s quarterly performance you can focus on what really matters – like starting that lovely flower garden or maybe learning to speak Italian or perhaps trying your hand at painting. Just ask yourself what you would most like to be doing and fill in the blank. Of course if you enjoyed being part of the working world you might try your hand at starting your own business or engage in a venture that excites you and keeps you wanting to come back each day. The beauty is you can choose whatever course of action you feel is right for you.

So the day comes around and you make the move – you call it quits, say your goodbyes to co-workers, pack up your box of office mementos and drive away from the place you have spent the majority of your hours for the past years or decades. You have graduated into the latest class of retirees. As of now you own the clock and calendar – whatever you say goes.

Now what?

With high expectations many of us jump into our second act no looking back. Some are happiest doing nothing, enjoying a downtime they are unaccustomed to but can easily get used to. After the rush and hustle of the job, who doesn’t deserve to take it slow and chill a bit? Others cannot wait to start their next adventure. Only this time they are free to try something they have always wanted rather than have to do for the money. Each of us gets to decide how we move forward. But how much thought has gone into what exactly that might be?

Over the years I have heard from many who are navigating their way through retirement with varying degrees of success. Some find themselves happily engaged in various interests and hobbies and pastimes, amazed at how the days fly by. They don’t have enough time to get it all done! Others struggle to find their place in an unfamiliar world, not quite sure what they should be doing. With no one telling them what to do they are at a loss. And if you have done nothing to plan and prepare for the next 20-30 years, life is not necessarily going to get better by itself.

I recently posted my 195th blog for US News & World – On Retirement. During those almost four years I shared articles with readers who like me were doing their best to figure out this retirement game. I learned a lot and hope my readers found some value as well. But now I feel it is time to move on and try something new. I am not sure exactly what that is but it is fun to contemplate the possibilities.

I think it is important to continue to extend our boundaries and try new things as we live our retired lives. Doing the same thing with little variation can become a brain numbing habit that requires no independent thought and does little to stimulate our curiosity. I am personally at my best when challenged or at least experimenting with something new. The focus is on challenging not stressful.

Although I look forward to stepping outside of my comfort zone, I accept the reality that I don’t want to step too far outside. While some of a similar age may choose to ski down precarious Swiss Alps or zipline high above jungle canopies, I am a bit less adventurous. I don’t need my heart beat to race to have a good time! But that does not mean my retirement will be boring.

I want to travel and am blessed with the perfect companion in my Swiss wife who has ventured far and wide. With her language skills and familiarity with world travel my list of potential ports of call broadens exponentially. I want to learn to cook wonderful meals that are healthy and tasty. I want to grow much of my own vegetables so I can pick fresh produce to add to my dishes as needed. I want to become familiar with all of the trails that crisscross the parks and valleys within 50 miles of where I live. I want to walk along the California coast with no destination in mind for as long as I want breathing the fresh salt air and listening to the pounding surf. I want to keep my mind engaged learning new languages and studying subjects that truly interest me from nature to history to geography to TBD.  I want to play beautiful melodies on the piano. And I want to spend time with my wife doing whatever it is we may, happy being near one another.

Retirement is here and I for one plan on taking full advantage of all it has to offer. Let the games begin!