One of my biggest fears prior to entering retirement was I would not find sufficient ‘things’ to do to keep me busy. I had a handful of hobbies and interests but nothing I could imagine holding my attention for the next 20-30 years. While I was spending the last three decades on the job this was never a problem. The challenge was rather could I get everything done in the allotted hours each day. But now that I am retired it is up to me how I choose to spend my time – I am the decider. I have to fill in the empty squares on my calendar. Don’t get me wrong – I love the freedom. But I admit I was somewhat afraid I might not be up to the task.
My wife and I spent last weekend in San Francisco walking the City from Fort Mason to Noe Valley to the Ferry Building, enjoying a crisp sunny day while burning some calories to pay in advance for the dinner we planned to consume. The day was spectacular, the views equally impressive and the diverse mix of humanity encountered along the way entertaining as always. It is amazing but although we have lived in the Bay Area for decades this is the first time the two of us really just wandered SF with no particular destination in mind, just going with the flow. My wife had suggested we do this many times and undertaken similar treks with her friends and family but never quite convinced me to give it a try. And now we are moving! I am sorry my dear for my reluctance but I promise we can do it again upon our return visits.
That evening as we enjoyed a glass of wine before heading out to dine we shared a warming fire with a young couple from Spain. Their enviable business was traveling the world taking pictures and videos for use in movies and blogs and advertising. They shared exciting stories of exotic places from Asia to Spain to Costa Rica and now to San Francisco. As someone who always held an interest in photography I was quickly drawn into their scenario and could readily imagine myself in their shoes. Well perhaps a slightly tuned down version with a little less high adventure but still a lot of beautiful venues. Being retired I am theoretically free to travel and film wherever and whatever may capture my fancy. I believe this a more than worthy cause upon which to focus some of my sparse retirement availability.
As a veteran retiree going on three years I am beginning to realize my initial apprehension may have been exaggerated. My daily routine helps assure I will not become bored as I progress through my exercises, blogging, hikes, reading, online courses, gardening, ‘me time’, and initial explorations into cooking. Having specific activities helps the organized me guide my way through the day as well as giving me a certain feeling of accomplishment come cocktail hour.
With our pending relocation I anticipate adding to my list of interests. I plan to get to know the neighbors to learn where to find the best restaurants, freshest baguettes, richest coffee, tastiest h’ordeuvres, most satisfying breakfast repast, and most special off the beaten path hidden beach spots. My wife and I want to explore the various volunteering options in our area. There is always the chance of writing another book somewhere down the road.
And there is a real possibility we will become grandparents within the next few years which should open up a whole new chapter. We already find ourselves increasingly noticing little ones in strollers or proud first-steppers precariously taking their determined stiff-legged toddles. It is easy to imagine bringing the grandkids to the zoo where they will be amazed by the assortment of strange critters. Hand in hand carefully walking toward whatever awaits these grandparents will be more than happy to share time with those grandkids.
So it appears for at least the foreseeable future I need not fear becoming bored in retirement. When will I have the time to be bored? I plan to focus on managing my days to get the most out of an increasingly limited resource – my free time. I have always preferred to be busy – not frantic can’t-catch-your-breath busy but more like living moments filled with interesting engaging enjoyable activities. Being retired allows me to pick and choose what I will do based upon what I want to do, a luxury I am learning to make the best of.