For years I have been saying that I would be so busy after I retired, doing all the things I put off while working, that there would be no adjustment period. HA!! I retired in November of last year after 16 years as a massage therapist, a career I entered at 50 and loved. I thought I would work at massage until I was 70, but when my hands began to hurt, I decided I was ready to quit, because I want to use my hands to do all the things I have been planning for years.
I have been positioning myself for about 4 years to be able to retire from full-time work and get along on my resources. I am incredibly lucky that in 2014 I was able to move into an Artspace community, with subsidized rent. The building is located in a transportation hub, so I have been able to give up my car, which is a huge saving. I am able to get all over the city from where I live. The apartments in my building are designed to be live/work spaces so I have plenty of room for the types of art that I enjoy. The best part, and one that I consciously considered, is that this is a community of artists, I am surrounded by interesting people of all ages, so I am constantly learning new things.
I made lists and plans for years of all the things I wanted to do when “retired”. Working on this website and blog were high on the list, as well as offering classes here in my studio. I felt like I was all set! However. if you’ve worked for the better part of 50 years, with your time externally structured around working 5 or so days a week, with two or so days off, it is quite a shock to suddenly NOT have that structure, and have to structure your time yourself…
As I have said before, the election in November was a real roadblock for me, and it didn’t help that I had no real structure in mind for my days. I’ve talked to other people who have been retired for a few years, and all have said that there is a period of adjustment to the amount of freedom from time constraints one suddenly has. The temptation to stay in one’s pajamas all day is real!
I’m only now getting down to the work of figuring out how to structure my days, post-retirement. I have discovered that I still need to keep a schedule, and to write things down if I want to get anything done. I’m working on getting rid of the bad habits I developed in the last year. That will be an ongoing effort.
I set an alarm and try to get up at the same time every day. I’ve found that showering and getting dressed first thing is really important for me. Pajamas are great, but if you need to go to the store, or want to go for a walk, or get invited to meet someone, being dressed makes it a lot easier and quicker! Even sitting down to work on my blog or some art is more likely to happen if I am already dressed.
I am still working on scheduling the hours of my day. I have really resisted doing this, after being a slave to work schedules all my life, but if I don’t have a plan written down and at least preliminary steps to get started, nothing happens. It may be “never too late”, but without some kind of plan and a few action steps, it ain’t happening!
I live alone, so part of my planning includes making sure that I get out of my apartment and see people. Following people on Facebook and Instagram doesn’t count, as fun as it is to see what people are up to, nothing beats meeting friends in person or going on your own adventures! I also go to a gym to take classes, rather than work out on my own, because I am a) out of the house and b) seeing people!
Goofy as this may sound, I use charts and markers to keep track of my progress on projects I am working on. I am a person who needs accountability structures to get things accomplished. When I was working, I was accountable to the people I worked with and that was great, but if I don’t have that external motivation, I tend to not do even the things I really want to do! So I make charts, and draw stars on them with colorful markers. I also tell key friends about big projects when I think I will have a tendency to slack off. I value their opinion, so I am less apt to quit.
Being retired is an ongoing adventure, and I know I will always be working on how to make it work for me. What kinds of structures do you use? Do you have other questions you would like to explore? Leave a comment, and I will share in a future post!