When you retire, how will you spend your time to make the most of the freedom you have finally achieved? Some people have a bucket list with a tally of adventures and challenges they are determined to do before they die. Other retirees are happy to take it easy and experience whatever may be in store without worrying ahead of time exactly what that will be. It’s common to feel both nervous and expectant about the opportunity to finally do what you want to do when you want to do it.
Retirement-age people sometimes roll into their second act without giving much thought to what the next 20 or more years may hold. Armed with a basic understanding of their financial situation and more than ready to exit the working world, some people take the retirement plunge only to find themselves in a world they are unprepared for. It can be difficult to transition from a busy life dedicated to growing a successful career into a new role where what you do is up to you.
It is not always easy. Many professionals find themselves challenged by the idea of slowing down, experiencing feelings of guilt if they are not engaged in some meaningful activity every spare minute. Unaccustomed to a slower pace, they can become frustrated when they find themselves with little that must be accomplished and a whole lot of time to do it. If you are not doing something important, it is easy to feel you may be wasting your time.
The trick is to realize that no matter what may have come before, from this point on you are master of how you will spend the hours in your day. Retirement is the perfect environment to shape your ideal mix of activity and relaxation.
It is important to allow yourself the luxury to relax and do nothing. Although it may run contrary to all you have come to know over the past 30 years, try to remember you are no longer on the clock. Get used to the fact that freedom is not merely a concept but a reality to be practiced each day. Enjoy the new experience of a life without deadlines or constant pressure. Savor the fact that you do not have to do anything or be anywhere. You are now the boss. You get to decide just how busy you want to be each day.
On the other side of your retirement mix, you will discover the freedom to begin exploring the adventures you have always wanted. With time on your hands, your bucket list is just waiting for your attention. As long as you are physically able there is no reason you cannot pursue your wish list with vigor. Climb mountains, visit exotic locations, experiment with hobbies you have not had time for in the past and do what you have always wanted. Even if you are not quite able to do it exactly the way you would like, do the best you can. You no longer have to live up to anyone’s standards but your own.
With 20 or more years ahead of the typical retiree, how you choose to spend your days is up to you. Whatever that perfect mix of activity and downtime, you make the call. When I began looking into how to prepare for retirement, one of my biggest fears was running out of meaningful things to do. I was afraid of becoming bored more than anything else. But I am beginning to realize that I will not have to fill every moment with newsworthy achievements. A balance between doing things that matter and doing things that don’t is the way to go. All we need to do is find the mix that is right for each of us. Isn’t this what living the retired life is all about?
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.