A Little Routine Fights Boredom in Retirement

Let’s figure that by the time you near retirement, you have been a member of the working masses for 30 plus years – a pretty reasonable assumption if you started at age 21 or thereabouts. During all those years hard at it chances are you developed a regular schedule for your days. Get up at the same time, go through your morning ritual of newspaper-breakfast-coffee, make the ever-so-enjoyable commute to your place of employment, work, return home, and roll into your evening routine. It is easier to fall into a routine that works for you than to try to figure out each day what to do next. And there is a certain comfort in predictability.

Now that you are retiring, a little routine can help in ways you may not have considered prior to your arrival.

As a retiree, how you choose to spend your time each day depends on you. You have earned the right to do what you want when you want for as long as you want. This freedom is one of the great rewards of retired living. But along with freedom can come challenges. What will you do now that you can do anything you want? There are a lot of hours that make up the many days ahead. If you retire at 65 you can hope for 20 or more years of retirement. And if you are like most of us, you want to make the most of each.

I find a little routine provides a nice framework for the day. Admittedly I am a pretty organized person. My wife may upgrade that description to obsessive but it works for me. As I live my “trial retirement” until the official move to 100 percent retired status, I have a handful of activities I do throughout my normal day. Without the requirements of a job, having a routine helps me stay engaged and active. I don’t hover in bed even though nothing specific needs to be done. Instead I make it a point to get up and around by 7:00. Getting up at a regular time each day allows me to take advantage of what is for me a high energy time of day. I have always been a morning person.

Here is a typical day. I begin with breakfast and the newspaper – I recently added doing the daily crossword puzzle to help get my mental juices flowing. Coffee in hand, I head to the computer to write/blog/create/see what is new in the world for a few hours. Next it is time for a workout alternating between weights, stationary bike or yoga. Then lunch followed by an hour walk in the neighborhood sometimes to the local store to gather provisions for dinner. Back home and a bit more computer. Then comes my “elective period” when I will spend some time in the garden or engage in various home projects or read or play the piano or watch the grass grow, whatever suits my fancy for that particular day. Time for a little TV where I watch an hour show recorded earlier (no time for commercials in my retired life!). Somewhere between 2:30-4:00 I typically grow a bit restless and feel the need to get out of the house one more time. The perfect opportunity for a quick trip to the store or neighborhood coffee spot. Upon my return a little preparation for the evening meal and suddenly it is time for the 5:00 news.

My routine works for me. Yours may be something entirely different. But having a set of regular activities to occupy your time may help to avoid that what-do-I do-now feeling sometimes experienced by seniors. There is nothing worse for a healthy retiree than to find herself bored. All of the promises of living the retirement dream amount to little if you are unhappy and unsatisfied with the life you live.

The good news is since you are master-of-the-schedule you are not forced you to stick to the plan. If you want to deviate a bit or depart entirely, you are free to do so. You can change the routine and change it back or not – you are in control. And you are always free to expand your horizons and try new things. Remember you write the rules in your retirement.

For me, that little framework for the day helps me feel that although retired, my day is far from empty and I better get to it. There are things that I should be doing, things that I enjoy doing. The good news is in retirement, I get to decide what those things are.

Time for my workout – enjoy your day and enjoy your retirement.

9 Important Ingredients for a Happy Retirement

Most of us would like to at least have the option to retire at some point. There are those who may choose to keep working in some capacity, but working by choice (rather than necessity) can be considered part of the desired retirement mix. Other people plan to get as far from the working world as possible. What our retirement will look like depends on our personal preferences and priorities. Here are some of the most important ingredients for retirement happiness:

Having something on the calendar. Once finished with the working world, whatever is on the calendar becomes our personal responsibility. Having something to look forward to – a trip, a dinner party or a concert – can help sustain an expectation of good things to be. An empty calendar does not bode well for the excitement and variety we look for in our second act.

Being healthy. The more challenged we are with our physical health, the less we are generally able to enjoy day to day living. We cannot stop the aging process, but we can try to do the right things along the way to encourage a healthier mind and body. Aim to appreciate the days when you enjoy good health.

Having enough money. If you do not have enough saved, the retirement you are hoping for is not going to happen. Have you done the math to figure out how much you actually need to be comfortable? If you calculate that you will be able to cover your bills and have enough left over to live a good life, you are on a reasonable path. But don’t make the mistake of working yourself to death in order to save for retirement. In our second act, time can become an even rarer commodity than money.

Someone to share it all with. A partner, spouse or close friend can help us to live a moment more fully by sharing an experience with someone we care for. A sunset is beautiful, but when shared with a loved one, isn’t it just a bit more special?

Finding a little fun. Think back on a time when you were happy, smiling and just plain glad to be alive. What was it that you were doing? What caused you to feel that way? Now with time to spend as you desire, aim to do that again. Even if you are not able or interested in doing the same thing, finding a little fun in your retirement days can bring on a welcome smile.

Expanding our horizons. Now that we have the time to do what we want, there are many possibilities. The time is right to try all the things we did not have time for while living the life of worker bees. Step outside of the comfort box and get a little crazy. Variety can help keep the day fresh and interesting.

Enough interests that engage us. No one wants to be bored in retirement. This is the chance to spend our time as we want, doing what we most enjoy. It is important to plan ahead for pending retirement and the free time we will have. Get a jump on identifying the interests and passions you hope to enjoy once retired.

Being patient. Getting older can try your patience and make it harder to get along day to day. Since we may not be as quick or energetic as we once were, a little patience when it comes to the realities of aging can improve the quality of your retirement experience.

Realistic challenges. Who does not enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with successfully meeting a challenge? Whether climbing the nearest mountain, getting those persnickety roses to bloom or writing your first short story, achieving goals can make you feel better about yourself.

It takes more than a large nest egg to create a worthwhile retired life. There are a lot of ingredients that, when mixed together, just might be the recipe for your retirement happiness.

From my blog on US News & World. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

Retirement is Your Time to Get Off the Clock

After a busy career, one of the best perks of retiring can be the realization you are no longer tied to a strict schedule. Whereas our work days were likely driven by meetings and appointments with inflexible time requirements, once retired, we begin to have control over our time. We have more freedom to decide what we want to do and when we want to do it. We are able to make changes on the fly as we see fit. We need not tie our days to a routine that is other than how we want to spend our moments.

Technology has made our working world increasingly more efficient with a variety of tools that allow us to stay connected anytime. With the advent of smart phones, it is perhaps too easy to access e-mail anywhere. The challenge arises when the lines between work and home begin to blur, and we check work e-mails before going to sleep, getting out of bed in the morning or at the dinner table.

While on the job, we have no choice but to sacrifice the hours and weeks that our career demands. Too often we must choose between what is best for our company and what is best for our family. Unfortunately, the two are often at odds.

In retirement, we are finally off the clock. Here’s how to get out of the habit of being constantly busy:

Do the things you were not able to while working. Do you remember a time during your career when you felt buried in work with no hope of getting back on top of things? Free time was nonexistent as you put in hour after stressful hour to get the job done. Retirees don’t have to do that anymore. If you were unable to travel like you hoped to, you now can. If you had no time for the kids (or perhaps now grandkids), you have plenty of time now. Hobbies, adventures, new experiences and new people all are available now that you are in control of the clock. Don’t miss the chance to take advantage of your situation.

Do nothing and do not feel guilty about it. For new retirees, free time can be a bit scary. If you are not accustomed to enjoying a down moment, you might feel guilty, like you should be doing something productive. It can take some getting used to, but try to cut yourself some slack. Retired life can be your chance to experience a life free of stress and without deadlines. After years of paying your dues, you should be entitled to enjoy your freedom. With your newly opened schedule, there is no reason to feel guilty filling in the days by doing exactly what you want.

Revisit what you may have been passionate about while younger. When I was eight years old, I wrote a short story about a hook-armed escapee who frightened innocent teenagers at a drive-in movie. I have always loved writing, and plan to focus more on that particular passion when I retire. Perhaps you were a would-be musician, adventurer, photographer or artist. Now that you are off the clock, you are able to fill your time with what you truly enjoy, whatever that may be.

In retirement, the clock can become like a friend that you check in with occasionally. You are the master of your moments, and free from the constraints of the clock. One day you may even choose to leave your trusty watch in the drawer rather than secured to your wrist.

From my US News & World blog. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.