Easing Into Your Retirement Role

Getting good at being retired is a process. Only a lucky few are able to flip the switch from work to retirement and smoothly make the transition. New members to this growing club rejoice in the freedom to do as they want and explore a new world without limitations foisted upon them by demanding careers. But the new lifestyle they are about to commence is just that: brand new. Never before has what happens during each day resided solely in their control.

New retirees must assume responsibility for replacing what was until now an organized schedule of daily activities. Duties on the job dictated how you spent your hours. Once you leave that behind, no one but you will populate your calendar with worthwhile activities and commitments. The freedom to occupy yourself as you see fit also comes with the challenge of selecting meaningful ways to spend your time for the foreseeable future. It is not just about next month, but rather next year and many years after that.

It is not uncommon to feel a hint of guilt about your sudden freedom and newfound ability to choose how you spend it. Most of us lived through hectic careers and lifestyles where spare time was an elusive commodity. Over scheduled working people have little time to waste and constantly search for ways to boost productivity. Now in retirement, that burden is lifted. You get to do what you want. But it can take time to accept that it is now OK to pursue something just for the fun of it. Imagine doing nothing at all without remorse. I still sometimes find myself at the end of the day tabulating where I “productively” spent my Cool seniortime, hoping to identify something worthwhile. I am beginning to realize I now define what is worthwhile, and somewhere near the top of the list is being happy.

One on one time with your spouse is about to get top billing as the two of you become a retired couple. You will no longer be separated by individual careers, and will now be able to spend as much time together as you want to. But don’t think that long weekends alone or occasional vacation travel is an accurate representation of life spent together every day. You and your spouse could potentially be together 24/7. It can be truly wonderful to have quality time to share, but maintaining harmony over the long term takes effort. Your journey will be smoother if you allow for alone time to pursue individual interests. If you do not have a lot of shared hobbies you may want to search for a new activity you can do together. Allowing for a little space and a willingness to try new things together can help the transition into this new phase of marriage to go more smoothly.

One of the best aspects of retired living is the incredible variety of activities and interests we are free to explore. I have discovered a renewed interest in learning about history and art, something I glossed over in my youth and never had time for until now. By watching courses on the Internet, reading books I now find interesting and traveling where my heart desires I continue to broaden my knowledge. You may decide to explore new ways to maintain physical fitness, learn a new language, upgrade your house, garden or express your artistic side. Retirement can be the perfect time to be as curious and creative as you want.

Making the transition from the working world into retirement is not as easy as it may sound. Some people find it difficult to step away from the need to be constantly productive. It’s important to have a plan for how you will spend your days once you leave your job.

From my article for US News & World

Savor Your Freedom in Retirement

When you retire you will be free to do whatever you want with your time. You won’t find any such flexibility in the working world. And raising a family rarely allows for more than a momentary respite from the struggles of paying the bills and securing a safe future for family members. Only rare opportunities exist to spend time in pursuit of what you really enjoy or genuinely care about. It is not until you retire that you are finally able to leave the rest behind and cut loose in pursuit of your personal passions.

Imagine the freedom you will enjoy. You get to choose how to spend the day without anyone else having claims on your time. You could enjoy 20 more years to fill with hobbies, passions, opportunities to volunteer, trips to take, food to enjoy and moments to share with those you hold dear. Retirement should be your time to savor this freedom.

I recently found myself searching for something productive to do with my time. Years spent in a demanding career pounded into my head the importance of putting every minute to good use. Then it dawned on me that I am now retired. There is nothing I have to be doing with my time. I am free to choose whatever sounds good at any particular moment. Best of all, I do not necessarily need to do anything productive. My old bosses would fume at their desks at even a hint of wasting time, but I don’t have to answer to them anymore.

You don’t necessarily have to have something to show for every day in retirement. Enjoying what you are doing is what retirement is all about. Lingering over activities you enjoy may actually be making the best use of your time and freedom. Sometimes the most productive use of your time is taking a nap, reading a book or watching your plants grow. You get to decide how productive you want to be.

The challenge is figuring out how to avoid feeling guilty while enjoying downtime, especially when many relatives and neighbors are continuing to work so hard. On numerous occasions my hard-working wife comes home from a day at the office and asks me how my day was. I find myself planning ahead to manufacture a list of at least a few productive items to prove I have not “wasted” my day. If I can share accomplishments like mowing the lawn, making dinner or bathing the cats at least I have something solid to show for the past eight hours. The reality is I still feel guilty that she is working while I am retired. I cannot wait for her to join me in the next few years so we can waste our time together.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with choosing to be productive in retirement. Retirement can be a time to unleash new creativity and pursue second careers or other passions. The key is to be doing what you want and enjoy. The ideal mix of productivity and leisure is different for each person. We need to make choices and try the things that will bring us the most enjoyment and satisfaction in retirement. Our freedom to do as we please has been hard earned over many years. Now that retirement has arrived, it is time to savor the moments and appreciate the freedom. What an incredibly empowering feeling.

From my blog for US News & World