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