Learning to Live

I have had a lot to learn about daily living as part of retirement transition.   I was a workaholic; my work defined my daily and weekly living. Work/life balance was solidly on the work side of things.  When the work went away, I needed to figure out how to live life. I’m still a beginner but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Every day life is ordinary.   While I don’t have the stricture of working – the living by the clock, the frustration of a daily commute, and the banality of meetings – retirement days are not a nirvana of extraordinary adventures. If I expect that, I’ll be disappointed.   I am learning to enjoy the ordinary.
  2. I need to plan my everyday. Yes, I have discovered I really do need to have a plan.   A new life in retirement does not magically appear; time does not fill itself with engaging activities. I need to intentionally schedule things – from meet-ups with friends to time to write. Otherwise the days fritter away and negative feelings spiral.
  3. Consciously using the new tools in my toolbox makes the everyday days feel a bit closer to nirvana with a more peaceful, positive rhythm.   Using my new tools (morning journaling, affirmations, practice gratitude, practice yoga) takes effort, (dare I say ”work”?) but they do make living every day more enjoyable.
  4. When looking to how others are living life (friends, bloggers, random people you meet), focus on inspiration and not comparison. The comparison is so much easier, but too often lends to a sense of inferiority.   Everyone is different, with different strengths, different interests and desires. I need to define my own daily living.
  5. It’s the journey, not the destination.   A quote this Type-A recovering-workaholic, goal-setting achiever continues to remind herself daily! Embracing the journey means doing things I enjoy every day, giving new activities my best shot, and being OK with being a beginner. And focusing on activities that really interest me, not ones I think I “should be” doing.
  6. There is a huge gap between purpose in every moment of every day and completely wasted time. Some people find that singular passion that becomes their life purpose. Stop the comparison… many people do not.  Having the freedom to craft every week with a multitude of enjoyable activities, including time to just stop and be, is fine. Someday a larger purpose might present itself, but enjoying living is OK for right now.
  7. The options are limitless and the choices can be overwhelming. Just do something. Take a class. Read up on a topic. I have the freedom now to explore… so I am exploring! I can become a 21st Century Renaissance Woman – a blogging, spiritualism-exploring, yogi; a theater-going foodie who takes exotic mini-adventures; and an innovation-gig consultant. Why not!

For me, retirement transition has been about learning how to live, not work.   Yes, I am a beginner at it, but am finding joy in the learning.

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11 thoughts on “Learning to Live

  1. Although I love retirement I find I function better on a loosely constructed schedule. I guess I mean I need to be flexible but I do have to plan on getting up pretty much the same time every day going to bed, structuring certain activities otherwise I found days can just start to slip away. As I’m entering my fourth year of retirement, I think I have finally found a grove that works best for me. It’s been a struggle in some ways to be too structured versus be not structured enough. I have to say though, I have loved the journey and every aspect of retirement has been awesome. I continue to learn much about myself and I’m excited for the years ahead. Each day is marvelous in its own right.

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    1. So glad to hear someone else talk about the balance between structured days and open days. I have found I love a fully open day once in awhile, but in general feel better with more structure. But that’s me..hubby loves lots of unstructured days! everybody needs to find their own groove.

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  2. I’d love to just advise you to allow yourself to “relax,” but I know it’s easier said than done when you’ve been a workaholic for so long. In reality, I probably relax a little too much 🙂 and most likely don’t get nearly as much done by the end of the day as you do. It sounds like you are on a good path!

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    1. Ahh, to be OK with not getting anything done in a day. It’s my goal. At least 1-2 days a week! This time of year, it comes more naturally – cold, grey days do not encourage you to do anything but snuggle on the couch with a trash-novel.

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  3. I have found the same on an ordinary day. Even if you have bucket list items that take you away for 3-4 two week periods per year you still have the other 44-46 weeks to enjoy and need a plan on how to make every day a great day. I also find that when an activity includes multiple passions in one I am the happiest. Exercise outside is this type of activity for me.

    David

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    1. I’ve been practicing gratitude this year as well…to be grateful for the daily activities, like being outside. I love being outside but do not do it enough at this time of year. Thanks for the reminder of when I too am happier!

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  4. Pat –
    Workaholics should never retire. I have just now convinced myself of that. It’s too much stress on our bodies. Sitting around the house listening to music, or trying to be present, or writing is boring and a waste of our great talents. Yoga is way more fun when you only have 5 minutes to do it. Same goes for meditation. As multi-taskers, we can roll of of these things into one activity, and be done in less than half an hour! Right?

    This “not working” is way harder than working ever was. It’s too much work to not work! That’s it, I quit!

    Thanks for your blog. I’m only two years into my “not working”. I have a ways to go. Sigh!

    Deanna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. I’ve embraced the fact that I’m a recovering workaholic. And with absolutely no disrespect to AA or any other program (they are truly beneficial to those needing them), I’m thinking we need a WA program… Workaholics Anonymous. Hi, I’m Pat and I’m a Workaholic.

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  5. This is very sage advice, Pat. And once again, we are on the same page. My next post (that I did for this coming Friday’s Book Share), has one of my favorite quotes about the ‘ordinariness of everyday life’. It is amazing how often our thoughts seem to be in similar places. I’ve retweeted this post as I believe it is a very worthwhile read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am also amazed how often our thoughts parallel. I look forward to Friday’s post. Reading your posts often feels like my own thoughts on paper – often articulated even better than I could myself! Thanks for the re-tweet, too.

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