5 Tips for Slowing Down in Retirement

How to adjust to the relaxed pace of retirement.

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A friend of mine retired about a month ago. She told me her favorite things about retirement so far are getting up in the morning whenever she wants, bringing coffee and the newspapers back to bed, and luxuriating for as long as it takes to read the news from cover to cover.

When you are working, you have to hurry to squeeze in all the things you want to accomplish in a day. You drink your coffee while you commute, read the headlines while you squeeze in a workout at lunch, and spend the weekend running all the errands you didn’t have time for during the workweek.

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Sometimes you try to squeeze in a little fun too. On your vacation to Europe, you travel from city to city so you can see as many places as you possibly can in a two-week stretch. On your weekend getaways, you fly somewhere closer to home so you can hurry up and get to the business of relaxing.

It’s a big adjustment to go from a life of hurry to a life of leisure. But you’ve earned it. Here are some tips for adjusting to the relaxed pace of retirement.

Slow down your wake-up routine. Like my recently retired friend, I don’t wake up to the alarm clock anymore. Now you can wake up when you’re good and ready. If you find yourself still in your pajamas at lunchtime, I suggest changing into your workout clothes so you don’t feel quite so guilty.

Stretch out your exercise. I used to squeeze in an hour on the Stairmaster during my lunch hour or before I arrived at the office. Now I have time to stretch things out a bit. I can take a 90-minute yoga class, a bike ride down to the coffee shop, or a walk around the neighborhood, stopping to chat with my neighbors along the way. Sure, it takes a little longer, but why not slow down and enjoy the pace of your new life.

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Travel leisurely. When we were working, we didn’t have time to waste getting from point A to point B, so we flew. After we retired, we opted to drive a little more. On one road trip to visit family in Southern California, we meandered through Santa Barbara to stop by our old alma mater. While walking back to our car, we were invited to join some students for a pitcher of beer on the patio of one of our old haunts. It turns out they were graduating accounting students, just like we were some two decades before.

Take the time to learn something new. Maybe it is a little harder for an old dog to learn new tricks. But nothing is stopping you now that you’ve got all the time in the world. Learn to play guitar, sew, or speak a foreign language. By focusing on a new skill, you’re living in the moment and engaging your brain.

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Don’t rush into new commitments. Your retirement plans may include volunteering, trying out a new career, or even starting your own business. Retirement is a great time to explore your passions. Before you make any major commitments though, take some time to unwind from those working years. Enjoy your new pace. Let it lead you down the meandering path toward a fulfilling retirement.

Sydney Lagier is a former certified public accountant. Since retiring in 2008 at the age of 44, she has been writing about the transition from productive member of society to gal of leisure at her blog, Retirement: A Full-Time Job.