Why It’s Important to Pace Yourself in Retirement

The relaxed pace of retirement can create challenges for high achievers.

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We spend a lifetime trying to keep up with all of the demands of work, raising a family, paying the bills, and saving for retirement. When retirement finally comes along, many people hope to find the time to slow down a bit. I am not talking about calling it quits and simply vegging out on a lounger in the backyard (although for some people that may be just what they want). Many retirees would prefer to stay active and engaged, while still having the option to slow down to a more manageable pace.

However, it may not be easy for performance-driven individuals to simply slow things down. Habits formed and nurtured over 20 or 30 years of a career can be hard to alter. Changing from a life that is constantly on the go to a slower pace is difficult. You need to shift your mindset from one of constant achievement to savoring a more relaxed way of life. Here are some tips to ease into retired life at a more reasonable pace:

Eat like you mean it. When was the last time that you took a bite of a ripe peach and really paid attention to the flavor, texture, and juiciness in the first mouthful? Have you ever enjoyed a dinner where you were conscious of each course as it progressed and how different tastes complimented each other? It is more likely you cannot even recall what you had for dinner last night. Too many people see a meal as merely a time to fuel up and restock our reserves, rather than a casual, slow-paced event to share with those we love. In European countries a meal is a time to enjoy not only the food, but the companionship of family and friends. Why rush through the experience? Enjoy and savor your meals, rather than dining and dashing.

Accept the little inconveniences. Even after all the years I’ve been exposed to painfully slow Bay Area traffic, I still find my pulse quickening and my patience rapidly depleted when surrounded by slow cars clogging the lanes. But in retirement, aim to be a little less harried and frazzled. It is easy to blow a fuse, but why sweat it? Take a deep breath, put on a smile, and let it go. Getting worked up will not speed up anything except your heart rate.

Control the rush to get things done. Retirees now have the time to do things at their own pace. Don’t fall into the old trap of feeling that you must quickly complete a task so you can move on to the next. Spend time at what you are doing, do a good job, and then once you finish, move on. If we hurry to get done what is in front of us we may miss the enjoyment of doing it just right with a little extra care and attention to detail.

Live this moment. We cannot change the past or know what the future holds. All we can do is live in the current moment, give our full attention to it, and appreciate it for all it has to offer. If we worry about what could have been or might be we will miss the chance to live right now. And once the moment has passed we do not get a chance to live it again.

Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.