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.
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.