Idle in Retirement..or Over-committed?
Whilst still working, but nearing retirement, we all relished the idea of being free to do so many of the things that were denied to us because of the restrictions of a career. How nice it will be not to get up before dawn to frantically prepare for another work day with its mindless commutes, the wall-to-wall meetings, ever tightening reporting deadlines and the sometimes overindulgent lunches. Oh, to finally be free to do whatever you liked, when you liked.........But for most of us, Retirement is not quite so footloose and fancy free as we might have dreamed for!!!
For some, a daily ritual involving no more than a leisurely stroll to the local coffee haunt to meet up with other retirees, is the sum total of their existence - they quite validly choose to bask in their free time, doing as little as possible and answerable only to themselves/partner. Others will continue to rise early as before but, instead of donning the old "suit & tie", they garb in a different "uniform" and spend as many hours of the available sunlight exploiting their favourite leisure time pursuit, be it anything from golf or gardening to fishing or sewing...everyday!!! And I imagine for many, this is the ideal retirement!!
There are those who, after the immediate euphoria of "being retired" has worn off (and this can be as soon as after just a week or two) there is an urgent need to be "useful" or "quasi employed" in some formalised activity outside of the home. Many will achieve this through the highly admirable role of "volunteering" within a charity or some community based activity, be it a hospital, op-shop, church organisation, museum, historical site, library or other worthy cause. And some will even do this everyday of the working week, often gratis but otherwise as if still in full-time employment.....oops! Perhaps this was not totally intended but if otherwise lost in retirement, it fills the void and maintains a community connection so vital to your esteem.
The reality is that "baby-boomers" are retiring younger and still in good physical and mental health and thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, are now living much longer, with most reaching 80+ and some even much longer. So our retirement years are now a much longer proposition for most and the trick is to ensure it is a special time of our lives - not a drudgery and certainly not a "waiting room". Indeed, it is a wonderful time for most - one where despite losing our youthful attributes, we are able to embrace new things and significantly contribute to our community.
Now I'm not advocating one direction over another - we all have different wants, needs and capacities - but I am strongly recommending that you, me, we all "make every day a winner" so that we will look back at the end of our journeys with no regrets. Moreover, we should not procrastinate as none of us know how long, or indeed how short the remainder of our journey will be! And for us - She and Me - even after 7 years of retirement, we are still to some degree "experimenting". We've gone through a cancer scare, and thankfully come through it, we've downsized from an acreage to a house in town, we've renovated, we've engaged in community through our Church and a local Children's Foundation, we've identified Cruising as our preferred mode of holiday travel and we relish each trip, just as we relish time at home to tend our small lawn and gardens and at all times we make time for our adult children and their families too.
But have we got the balance right....that is the question? I suspect there is no ready answer...no "one size fits all" retirement plan. In fact it will be different for all of us, yet we all share one common question....have we got enough "nest-egg" to fund our retirement and of course again there is no ready answer. So as we consider our own retirement unfolding and observe those our friends and acquaintances around us, there is rich anecdotal evidence to help us all live rich and rewarding retirements...its a matter of mixing it up sufficiently so we don't feel trapped like we did when working full-time for all those years, we do feel useful but not used, we feel connected and interesting because of the diversity of things we now do, and above all, we enjoy our retirement journey.
My only recommendation is to do "stuff", have fun with no regrets...enjoy your retirement...you've earned it.
...and remember...have a fabulous retirementLIFE....