What is retirement life really like?

When you’re transitioning into retirement with only a limited plan of what comes next, often voiced fears include what will I do and will I be bored.   The stereotypes for retirees and early retirees are no longer true, but are still firmly engrained: Retirees move south to golf everyday or spend time with the grandkids and do volunteer work.   Early retirees are “merely” starting a second career. If none of those visions feels right, the transition into retirement without a plan can look very uncertain.

Work, if you’re a workaholic like I was, could have easily taken up more than 55-60 hours a week, between office-time, commuting and off-hour communications/ planning.   It can be daunting to fill in all that time! A few folks I know “failed” at retirement (and went back to work) because they couldn’t find things that they enjoyed doing and gave them a fulfilling life.

For me, entering retirement without a solid set of activities/hobbies meant pushing beyond my comfort zone and trying things.   It’s interesting that getting out of your comfort zone is a recent blogging trend (and one I’m joining in). Moving out of your comfort zone can be as simple as trying a new way of doing something you always do or trying something you’ve always wanted to try.

For me retirement transition has been about trying many new things: yoga, Zumba, running a foodie club, writing a blog, going to local conferences, learning to swim. It took time to figure out what I should continue to do (and what I should stop doing).   I’m continuing to do this and have a “10 new things” goal for this Spring’s bucket list. Adding new things is becoming more challenging only because I’m keeping some of the new things around… they are no longer new!

There are so many areas for possibilities to explore: Travel, Play, Arts, Community, Connections, Healthy Living, Personal Growth. It’s about finding what interests you.

I’ve seen folks set some personal goals in areas of interest – visit # new countries/cities in a year (travel lover), see all Oscar nominated movies (movie lover), # days for beach walks/year (new Florida resident). I’m trying this one with my “5 new restaurants” this spring and new FitBit goals.

But to show you that the answer to what will I do is “anything you want” and there really is not much time to be bored, here is real look what my April (a month in early retirement) looked like (and the out-of-comfort-zone things noted with a * ):

  • 3 philanthropic group meetings *
  • Yard spring cleanup and new planting bed formation
  • Re-started healthy cooking with Hello Fresh/Blue Apron meal deliveries
  • 5 live theater shows, 1 “stay-cation” local tour, and 1 local charity event
  • 12 out to eats: Couple Camaraderie dinners, Mid-week Foodie group dinner, and networking lunches
  • Weekly Zumba and 1-2 weekly yoga classes; added new yoga class location *
  • 5 Girlfriend Walk & Talks; 2 visits to the Zoo (annual Blooms event – waves of tulips!); and 2 walk-to-dinners
  • 2 Massages; 2 dentist visits
  • Spring cleaning – Paper purge, furniture shopping (will finally get rid of 2 old chairs at Goodwill next month!), and window washing
  • New explorations: Finished a 21-day meditation podcast *; took class on glass-blowing; read about Tarot and Thai massage; practiced a New Moon ritual; re-explored archetypes
  • Using new FitBit to track steps (target is 9000 a day, not yet there) and activities per week (target is 5, most weeks there!)
  • Got taxes done and filed.
  • Daily life – journaling, blog reading & writing, crossword puzzles, house cleaning, food shopping.

 

My month will look nothing like your month. It truly is about finding what interests you…and that could be days of golf, time with the grandkids, and starting a second career.   You be You!   Retirement gives you the time to figure that out!

 

Picture Credit: Pixabay

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45 thoughts on “What is retirement life really like?

  1. I’ve been retired for most of the past ten years and I always wonder how I got everything done when I was working and had kids! It’s amazing….

    When we lived in Ecuador, we even used a paper calendar (since WiFi was sporadic) to keep up with all the goings-on, gatherings & meet ‘n greets!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Donna, I don’t think I’m that busy, even if my April looks that way! For me, most of these things would not have happened if I was still working…so that’s my shift. (And I still have paper checklists. )

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  2. HI Pat, I’m sorry I didn’t see this sooner, I went back to #MLSTP to comment on a couple of more posts and found this amazing post of your retirement experience! I just finished my last day teaching for the semester and have the summer off, so I will feel retired for a couple of months! We end up spending almost every weekend at the Sacramento delta SUPing and windsurfing (and I just added a Mountain bike to the mix), so just prepping and packing each week for 2 1/2 days is always fun. WE have our new RV (travel trailer) now so it’s delightful playing house in it each weekend. I admire your busy days, Pat, and when I really retire in a few more years, I know I can easily fill up my time. I love how you approach your blog, with the sort of “how-to’s of retirement” from your perspective!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Terri for recognizing my blog approach… it’s good to know my intent comes across! When I retired, I found so much about why things were important, but not much on how to do them. I found some case studies, but until I found bloggers (like you), never found folks who I could relate to. So my intent for my blog was to share the How and not as much the Why.

      I’ve always thought my teacher pals understood a retirement lifestyle better than me as they transitioned into the lifestyle every summer. Every summer, it seemed it only took them 2 weeks and they were there…living the freedom. It took me (is taking me) years! LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually felt quite energized the whole month. And do keep in mind, it was a full month! You could also view it as scattered with no focus. LOL. Highlight reel and an alternative perspective.

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    1. I know how I found time to work… I did nothing else. But I am really liking doing everything else!

      Some careers are more like callings. Author and minister fit that IMO. It’s part of who you are, not just what you do. I’ve searched for my identity post-career. I think its awesome you both have that element in your life.

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  3. You are one busy lady. I have to say I am a lot less busy than you are in retirement but this is how I like it. I know that I have options if I ever get to the point that I am not happy with how things are. As I have said before being able to get the sleep I need and not getting up to an alarm clock were two important to me things in retirement. To each his own and we all do retirement our own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Victoria, this last month felt busy to me as well. I think May and June are both going to be a bit quieter. Hubby’s list would be much less busy than mine and we live in same house….but, that’s the way he likes it! And he wouldn’t say he’s bored or has nothing to do either. Everyone needs to find the right thing(s) for them. As you say, to each his own.

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  4. It’s lucky you’re not working Pat – how would you fit all those fun things in if you had to go to the 9-5 grind every day? I would love to try glass blowing btw! I’m also aiming at 9,000 steps a day and rarely getting there. My friend said she set her goal back to 8,000 because she reaches that on a lot of days and gets a little firework dispay to congratulate her, instead of feeling like a failure at the end of each day of not getting to 9,000. Keep doing all those interesting and diverse things because they’re so great to read about – so many blog posts in there! I’m still planning on starting an online course and re-starting Tai Chi – but I think I’m in recovery mode from the AtoZ still – so they might not happen til June. Thanks for being such a support through all those posts (that should have been an achievement you added to your list!) xx
    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM
    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, I’m trying to learn how to link up to SM…with your most recent post on friends of bloggers. A new skill to add to my new things list – yeah! I’ve found that for me, learning to live (all those fun things) required me to stop working. There was no such thing as work/life balance. I know others have been able to figure it out better (working part time!), but my workaholic tendencies are still there. On the FitBit, I either get to 10,000 (with fireworks at 9000) or I’m in the dismal 1000-2000 range. Is that the story of my life – all or nothing? LOL.

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  5. That’s why we like to call it re-wirement not retirement. As you say there is no ‘one size fits all’ and the stereotypes about retirement (walking on the beach hand in hand for one) are not relevant (much as I like walking along the beach hand in hand). It’s a great time of life to try something new. Pinning this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I adore walking on the beach…but hubby doesn’t like to accompanying me usually because I like to look for shells. And he like to keep a decent pace. So hand-holding is a challenge. [but we always hold hands at the theater 🙂 no needing to match pace there].

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    1. Thanks Debbie. One of the things I was known for at work was not pulling punches (brutally honest was their nice way of saying it). I’m trying to be more optimistic about life, but I don’t think I’ll ever see it completely with rose-colored classes.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. You may not have had a plan when you started Retirement, Pat, but you certainly moved forward with determination, and each day seems to have its own mini-plan. I’m really impressed with your list of April activities… also proof there is lots to do that don’t cost a cent. The opportunities are endless if one stays open to the possibilities! Great post to share!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. When I retired (with no plan) and folks asked me what I planned to do… I said “I plan to make a plan”. It became a running joke as I left work.

      I am a planner at heart and have check-lists for everything. Not having a retirement plan was a big issue for a while! I’ve also learned to be flexible in the plan and stay open to those life possibilities and the life challenges.

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  7. Enjoy reading how your fill your days with wonderful activity. Wish I had someone to walk and talk with. That would be a treat. Most of my friends are still working. And I have no family in town.

    I am really moving slowly on the spring cleaning over here. I remember knocking it out in less than a week in years gone by. I just can’t seem to get motivated to jump in. So it is easily going to drag through to the end of spring.

    My step target was always 10K while I worked but these days I often don’t make it to half that. Need to step up my game! Wearing a pedometer does encourage me to move a little more. In fact, mine is yelling at me now to get moving again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m finding that a “normal day” for me is only about 2000 steps. Ouch. Yes, starting to think about parking further out when shopping and going up and down the stairs for just one thing.

      One of my walking pals is someone I knew years ago and just ran into again a year ago. I call it serendipity; when she said “we should get together for lunch”, I said… how about a walk. I’m always the one calling her, but that’s the way it is. Maybe a working friend would want to walk instead of lunch or happy hour. I’ve thought about Meet-up as well (they have walking groups!), but haven’t done that yet. Maybe a couple more weeks with my FitBit yelling at me, I might start looking at the more seriously.

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  8. I think that you are settling nicely into retirement and are creating the life you want. I envy your walkable neighborhood… mine is safe and great for exercise walks but we pretty much have to get in our car to go anywhere. If it wasn’t for our year-round comfortable climate, we’d be looking elsewhere for sure. I’d love to read more about the glassblowing class you took – we had such a good time in ours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our glass-blowing class was a major let-down for me. I recognize the challenge in letting folks get near that kind of heat…but basically the instructor id 95% of the work. Since I’ve watched glass-blowing demonstrations live before (yes, I once watched a master craftsman for 3 hours do an art piece from beginning to end – amazing)….it wasn’t that “new” to see the process. But we’ve got 2 cute (pretty expensive) bowls as hubby did it with me. I enjoyed the pottery class more-so…but that was new process for me to “see” and much more hands on. I think if I had not seen the master glass-blower at work, it would have been more interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Pat, I love your post. My niece just made me one of those “My Intent” bracelets, and she wanted to know what “word” she should stamp on the washer. I told her to put two words – “Be Curious.” They are my reminder that anything that I can imagine or be curious about is a pathway to some new adventure, and an opportunity for me to explore and not be “bored” during my retirement years. I love your “You be You!” mantra. ~ Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m 5 yrs into retirement now. A common question is “What do you do?” I’m not sure if folks are really interested in what I do or if they’re wondering what they would do. I like the phrase – You be you. This is me in April. If snow means slow (as my-sister friend says), spring, summer and fall means go, go, go. April was all about friends and family. There were 11 social gatherings that included 2 birthday celebrations, games (scrabble, whist, 5-in-a-line), a walk & talk, 4 dinner parties, houseguests on 3 nights, a visit with neighbors that was long overdue (can cross that off the winter bucket list). An extended family member had a kidney transplant; all is well. My young cousin has embarked on “adulting” with a new apartment, new boyfriend, and a casual position in her new career. My ageing mother has medical issues (cataract surgery, carpal tunnel assessment) and some home maintenance issues that need tending to. She’s not managing these things very well. I’m the one that lives close and being retired, a lot of that responsibility falls on me. The final concert in the 2017/18 Home Routes series was a success. Lowlights: (1) the memorial service for a long-time friend who died within 3 months of a cancer diagnosis. The fellowship is uplifting. (2) a grassfire at the neighbors. The risk of fire is high in the time between snow melt and greening up. Activities are gearing up at local community associations. Each meeting seems to end with a to-do list. Spring yard work is on that list as well. There was time for self-care besides the social interactions that included acupressure treatment, massage, haircut/color and a mental health learning series. So retirement is anything but boring. Many of these activities were part of my life when I was formally employed. Now there’s more time for socializing ’cause I don’t have to get to bed to get to sleep to get up for work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your comment about more time for socializing. That is one I’m still learning! It’s fine to just enjoy a random conversation without worrying that you’re behind schedule! Yesterday at our local Civic Garden Center spring sale, I actually chatted with 4 different people and took my time. It was a lovely feeling, versus feeling like I needed to rush, buy, get home, plant, do the next chore/errand. And one I’m still working on… slowing down and savoring.

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  11. Hi Pat love this and your report on what you did in April – it was so varied. You are right about finding what you enjoy. I actually hated retirement after about 6 months because I felt lost. I had been defined by my work and family and didn’t have many interests. I started the blog and have now settled into a retirement lifestyle that works for me and my husband. Have a great week! Maybe you should link up to the Sentence A Day link at the end of my Virtual Coffee Catchup post. This post would be suitable and you would meet new bloggers. xx
    My Virtual Coffee Catchup for April

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue. I didn’t think this would fit the Sentence A Day linkup… but if you think it fits, I might. I did connect to the Out of Comfort Zone link-up!

      I’m just beginning to feel like I’m settling into a retirement lifestyle. I still have days I feel a bit lost but they are getting fewer and fewer. I tell myself on those days…re- look at your own highlight reel!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I think it would. I checked with Leslie when I knew I couldn’t do a Sentence a Day and she was happy for a summary link up. You can link up through my blog post if you like. My husband feels lost in retirement and he just turned 70. He spent the last 10 years looking after his Mum and Dad, now that his Dad has died and his Mum is in aged care it is hard to find his place in life xx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks and I did!

        I think sometimes men have it harder because they think they should have the answers right away – they’ve been socialized to be the problem solver, get it done, no soul-searching. If he’s willing, there are so many tools for him to explore and figure out his new place in life… but it’s hard if that recommendation comes from you (the wife), isn’t it. If he’s a reader, there are some good books about transition… which is essentially what he’s doing. (Retirement) Life is a series of transitions… the working title of a blog I’m doing! Let me know if I can help in any way.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks Pat. My darling suffers from PTSD which doesn’t help either. He has actually just been through a detox program in March and is now 10 weeks without alcohol. Many major changes in his life at 70 but I’m so proud of him. thank you for your interest and support xx

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Every time I look in at the Zumba classes at the gym, I always notice that every single person has a big smile on their face. I’ve never done it (I’ve also never seen any men in those classes), but the smiles look infectious. It must be great for mind and body. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marty, one of the instructors I take class from every once in awhile is a guy! But I have to admit, most of my classes are women attendees, although we have had a few men at times. It’s a fun workout… and yes, it can be quite the workout.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for letting me know, Pat. So it is as wonderful as I imagine. I love my rural home, but it is a pain to have to drive everywhere. I actually imagine someday being able to do without a car, renting one for the odd trip out of town but otherwise just walking everywhere. I think it would be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy, especially as we age.
    I too adore Amazon. I’d come out of retirement to be an at-home customer rep for them, that’s how much I love that company.
    Have a great weekend, Pat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Karen – I even contemplated a full city-living lifestyle – no car/garage, all public transport…but could not go that far. Nor could hubby give up his toy storage space.

      I live in an older suburb neighborhood. It was the suburbs in the 1920’s! Sidewalks, multiple shopping places within a mile (different directions), churches on every other corner it seems. Not quite small town though… still only 6 miles to the downtown area of our small city. I like what the city has to offer too. I don’t think I could ever go rural again (did that early in life). Everyone needs to understand what they need in location.

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      1. Finally a place where we differ, Pat 🙂 I love my rural property and right now can’t imagine being anywhere else. I just make a point of thinking ahead for a time when I’m living here alone and finding it too isolating or too lonely. You know, the old lady with 70 cats thing, only in my case it would be dogs.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Pat, This is my first year of retirement. I started out quietly last fall with a few community centre kind of activities. It has expanded sine, I am in three writing groups each with different agendas, three fitness classes-pilates is the really tough one for me. Now gardening, new kitchen and reorganizing the house and meeting up with friends. I am almost to the point of calendaring 0 activities for today because I was too busy! And I definitely do not want a job of any kind. Its the obligation part that bothers me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with the obligation part. I had never used that word for it, but that is how it feels. I’ve been hesitant to join anything that requires me to be there on their schedule and not mine. I guess I was on someone else’s schedule for too long… now I want to be on my own.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi, Pat – I agree that retirement transition is a fantastic time to explore what you want to do. I know many retirees (including myself) who had a preconceived list of things they wanted to do in retirement…only to find out that that was not what they wanted to do at all. I love your line that retirement lets “you be you (and me be me)!”

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  16. I’ll be passing this post along to my friends who are sure that they couldn’t possibly handle retirement because they would be too bored. You’ve done a terrific job of busting that myth, Pat, and of offering reassurance that, while it may take a bit of time to figure out, retirement activities are as unique as are retired people.
    You sound as if your new home is in a place where you can fairly easily walk to stores, restaurants etcetera. Is that the case? If so, is that different from your old home and how does it feel? I’ve been thinking that when I ultimately move from my rural property it would be nice to be someplace where I can walk to things. It sounds really idyllic to me, but I’m wondering if it actually is?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karen. Being able to walk to shops/restaurants was in the must-have “design criteria” for the “new” house. It was a feature we had in our previous house as well as in our place in Florida and I’ve learned to love that element of life. Prior to that (15+ years ago) we lived in suburbia with few sidewalks and everything a drive. Being able to walk someplace for dinner is so fun..and I feel less guilty at having a second glass of wine or dessert because I’m getting the exercise! I’ve walked to shop a few times as well…although I shop much less than I used to – I love Amazon shopping more than being in the stores. I’m hoping to walk even more now that spring has finally arrived.

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