Feast or Famine

After 2 years into retirement, it seems like my weeks are either full of (self-chosen) activities or completely empty.  Full and happy, this-is-great weeks.  Or boring, am-I-failing-at-this-retirement-thing weeks.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I need a life-concierge, one who is better at time management than me!

When you are the concierge of your own life, everything that comes onto your calendar is delightfully by your own choice.    But that also means everything that comes onto your calendar, you have to put there!   No more project/team/budget meetings regularly pre-scheduled.   No more requests from mentees for lunch dates/coffee dates or a half hour of time to talk an issue.   Every week, every day, every minute is yours to decide how to fill.   This is both freeing and daunting.

When I have multiple days in a row that are empty, negative emotions start to arise… a feeling of the blahs, doubt about this life plan, worry that I’ll become one of the retirement bad-case-studies – you know, the one who “gave up on life and died just 2 years after retirement”.  Yes, I use my tools (gratitude, reading inspirational blogs, etc.) to pull myself up.   But the root cause?   I have come to the realization that to keep the blahs at bay, I need a daily schedule.   It’s a balance between loving the freedom of not having to do or be anywhere on a regular basis and yet still having something to do or someplace to be almost every day. Is this weird or what!?!

When I look over the broader time frame, it’s easy to see the answer to “What do you spend your time doing?”   The big picture – a feast!   I have a small, but regularly scheduled, exercise program.   I have friend connects – mostly involving food – happy hours, lunches, dinners.   I have my “playing with words” – crosswords, blogging, reading (blogs and books).   I have my consulting project work.   I have some out & about activities (like the theater or craft shows), some gardening (especially this time of year). I regularly look for opportunities – like a cooking boot camp (so awesome – a very full week).    So when I have multiple days of nothingness (the famine days), I know it’s just my own fault for not planning something.

There is a lot of retiree sentiment that I should enjoy a non-scheduled life. Stop and smell the roses, enjoy the sunset, watch the grass grow.   Would I feel better if I scheduled that in?

So I just need better planning.  I don’t want a fairy godmother to create a dress for the ball, I want a fairy godmother to be my personal life-concierge… one who knows me as well as I know myself and makes plans to avoid future “famine days”.  Anyone want the job?

 

Picture Credit: Pixabay

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7 thoughts on “Feast or Famine

  1. So Pat, allow me to be your momentary personal planner…Here’s what I do. I use this lovely free little app called “Wunderlist.” First off, I love it because it’s free, and you can make it pretty (I have mine set to purple). You can make lists and “categories” I have these categories: Today, Tomorrow, Up Next, Goals, (along with a couple others for blog and business). I sort of use it as a brainstorming tool. If I think of anything I want or need to do, I put it somewhere on one of the lists. You can drag items from one list to another. When I find myself with nothing to do, and don’t want it to be that way, I can pull up a list and choose something that interests me. Or even just look at my goals and get some motivation from that. The beauty is that you can download the app on any device (computer, phone, tablet) and it updates and stays current on all. Oh, and count me in on the play date with you and Donna!

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  2. I love the famine days – they allow me to catch up on all of the days that I have “over feasted.” I also offer to schedule many of the “play dates” that my friends and I make — someone’s gotta do it — and it allows me to attempt to keep my schedule relatively balanced (shhh, don’t tell them and blow my cover)!
    Donna
    http://www.retirementreflections.com

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    1. Oh, I want a friend like you planning some play dates for me! I realized my famine days come when I get tired of being the planner. Too many years of coordinating things & now I need someone to do some of that for me!

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  3. As you know, I just passed my two-year retirement anniversary and, I have to say, I prefer to have more unscheduled days than scheduled ones. Too many obligations and I start to feel resentful (I don’t view them as famine days at all – they are blissful). I guess the key is to create the retirement that best suits you. And, of course things may change for you as time goes on. Sometime in the future, you may start to crave more down time (not that my down time is spent doing nothing – it just means that I get to choose) and then you’ll schedule fewer commitments. Or not… It’s your retirement to design how you want.

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    1. My hubby is like you….he loves the unstructured days. It’s taken me awhile to realize I not only like the structure but need it – most days anyway. I do love the occasional unscheduled day….maybe they will grow on me. I’ve always been a late bloomer! Check back in 6 months!

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  4. I feel your pain, Pat, if one can call it that. I retired with a concrete plan, go back to grad school, then pursue the career I always wanted (different from the previous one) at my own pace. Graduated, found my dream spot, went there, then life obstacles began to appear. So I let it all go and pushed the reset button. Life since has been irregular, at best, punctuated by famine days (a term I borrowed from you!).

    But it is less bad than it seems and I know there is a lot to be thankful for, chief among which is just being outside the rat-race.

    Can’t wait to read more of your blog! Adding that to my schedule.

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    1. Raymond, welcome! I agree that there is so much in life to be thankful for and I feel like complaining about blah days sometimes sounds so whiney. I like your term “reset button”. I’m shy of 2 years into retirement, so no need to reset yet. Still working on the plan I put together after I retired. I’ve recently read that it takes easily 2 years to transition from working to retired. So if you went from career 1 to career 2 and only now are looking at the world of retirement, you have some transition still in front of you. But there are quite a few of us here in blog-land on the same journey. We all learn together – inspiring and supporting. Welcome!

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