Inspirational / Lifestyle / Over 50

Retirement Transisitons - Filling The Day

Bill Storie and Robin Trimingham are the co-founders of The Olderhood Group – an online retirement learning environment with over 70,000 global followers. In 2013 they launched a retirement planning blog which focuses on the issues related to the transition from the workplace to a... Read More

Retirement Transitions - Filling The Day by Bill Storie

One of my concerns as I approached retirement was how to fill the day.

I had led a fairly active business life, especially in the last 4 or 5 years before I took early retirement. So much so, that some other things were either ignored, or squeezed into an inadequate time-frame. Never seemed to have time to do everything I needed to do.

Therefore, once I stepped through the retirement door, and I didn’t have a day job to go to, suddenly the biggest chunk of my day evaporated.

Panic.

I was determined to find more things to do. But I forced myself to insist that they had to be joyful things, not fillers. If I had done my arithmetic correctly, then there was no obligation to fill the day with income-generating activities.

The reality for most people is that the retirement years will constitute at least 25% of your entire life. If you take out your childhood and schooling years, say 25% for that also, then you discover that your retirement years will make up some one-third, or more of your adult life.

That’s a big number.

Therefore, if you don’t think about filling your day, then you’re going to live long years doing nothing. Perish the thought.

You should structure your retirement years as aggressively you did when you were looking for a job. Back then you needed money for yourself or your family, so there was considerable pressure to find a job and make enough money to maintain your obligations. Yet while the financial pressure should be less now in retirement, nonetheless the focus should be equally strong.

If you still have a choice about when to retire - unless you are at the age when it is mandatory and thus you have no choice - then I would go as far to say that if you don’t have a retirement plan, don’t retire until you do.

Bold words I agree.

But, the notion that you must “get out of here, so I can relax” is a notion that will bite you if you do. I firmly believe that.

I also know many people who thought that golfing every day would be a perfect dream, only to get tired of it after a few months, and now golf once, maybe twice a week (much like they did before retirement).

The Transition is more complex than realizing a dream.

You may be fortunate to not having to seek retirement work, maybe your pension and investment income is strong enough to allow you to some esoteric stuff. Hobbies. Golf. Gardening. Hiking. Travel. Crocheting. Of course, if you choose to work in a charitable function for example, where there is no money, then the reason for working falls into the mental health category. “I prefer to keep my mind active.” Perfectly good reason.

One of the big mistakes many retired people make is to believe they need to find something to do as a one-time shot. In other words, “I need to find a pastime that will get me through to the pearly gates.” Nonsense.

How’s about finding something to do for the next 5 years, then start all over again for the ensuing 5 years, then on and on. Just as you altered course in Adulthood, so you can alter course in Olderhood. There is no prescribed formula. Do what you want. As you age, the physical ability strength will diminish so take that into account.

One of my pleasures is not dashing off to the office at 8 o’clock or so every weekday (and some weekends !!). I still waken early - actually, I waken much earlier now than ever I did. I suppose not having had a hard day means that I don’t need as much sleep at night. Retirement typically lessens the tiredness factor.

But now when I do wake up, I read the newspapers online, check the sports, work on Olderhood, send a few e-mails, coffee, shower and so forth ……… voila, it’s 9.30 and the office is still there. It doesn’t open until I show up. Power.. !!

I did open a small office when I retired. I did want the feel of a business life and I needed my own space. But, I can toddle off to the office about an hour or so later than I did my entire life. It’s also nice to seek sanctuary away from family life, grandkids and so forth.

I also admit that come 2-3 pm I start to wind down for the day. Not because I need to, but because I can. I earned the right to choose. You have the same choice. It’s very refreshing.

Boredom is a constant concern for many people in retirement. I can understand that. But I think it’s not so much boredom, but a guilt feeling of not been scurrying about every day, all day. “I’m wasting my life away.” Nonsense.

I firmly believe you need some planning. If you idly lay back and let the TV control your life, then you’re on the slippery slope. Don’t do that please.

If you had to plan a third of your life at age 25, what choices would you have made.?

And remember …

“Clocks don’t run backwards”

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“Happiness is a state of activity.”

Aristotle