October 16, 2013

Inside One Man's Retirement Lifestyle

Each of us has a unique path to a satisfying retirement. Yes, there are plenty of general guidelines and suggestions that are part of the process; the pages of this blog are filled with them! But, recently I was reminded of how personal and individual all of this.

A regular reader and commenter sent me a copy of a letter he penned to his friends and family some nine months after moving from his home in L.A. and retiring to Nevada. He gave me permission to use that letter as a basis for this post. I have done a little editing for space and time, but thought you'd enjoy reading his words:

I have found, after giving myself permission to retire, that retirement is about giving myself permission every day. I still think of my day in a very structured way ( more on that later) and it can be difficult to break away from that ( given my sometimes rigid and simple view of life).
However, I am getting better at it! Last night I gave myself permission to turn in at 8:30, because I was beat! Today I feel great, and gave myself permission to....postpone weight training until tomorrow, and ride into town as my hour of aerobic exercise.   
But to truly understand my challenge, I want to tell you how I think of my time usage options...here we go..
*cook and eat meals....1 hour each, although morning is 2 hours including the paper, showering, etc.

*workouts...2 hours 6 days a week, dogs...1 hour walk, 30 minutes training and poop patrol
*bills and business 1 hour
*studying (trauma medicine for ski patrol)...1-2 hours plus classroom work twice a week 5 hours each night
*guitar practice....1 hr 
*long bike rides...3-5hrs
*recreational reading...1hr
*house/yard projects 1-6hrs
*dusting, cleaning....1hr
*unpacking (still!!)/organizing 1-2hrs
*hiking2-6 hrs.
*walking around Home Depot...1-2hrs
2-3 phone calls to Laura (wife still back in L.A.) 30-45 minutes
*nap..30 to 60 minutes.
So, way more than 18 hours a day. Some activities get done daily, some weekly, and all of them get juggled and rotated. There are always extras like getting a Nevada registration, car issues, grocery shopping, vet appointments, library, and dinners with neighbors. Sometimes I have a beer in the evening and just sit and look at the mountains.
Things will change drastically when Laura gets here in 12(!) days. There will be time spent watching TV, probably a little more house cleaning, and lots of "together" stuff. When the snow flies, there will be entire days of skiing, snowshoeing and hiking. I will have 8 days a month of on-mountain ski patrol training.
Of course I miss my good friends in California fiercely, but they (you) are forever in my mind and heart, so those relationships will continue to bring me great pleasure.
So my friends, those are my thoughts 9 months into this chapter of my life. I expect things to change drastically over the next couple of years, with time to travel and discover so many more great things about our new location. I will keep you posted and of course, would love to have you come up and see us, during which time, I give myself permission to not do all that other stuff!
All the best, Keith

Before retiring Keith was a doctor, which explains not only his detailed scheduling but also his desire to use his skills as a trauma person for skiing accidents.  By the time you read this his wife will have joined him. I wonder how his schedule will shift with her arrival and over time as they settle into their new home.

I thought this was an interesting look at the life of a recent (9 months is still recent!) retiree and how he is using his time. Thanks, Dr. Keith for sharing your letter and a peek inside your life! You are scaling the heights, to use Friday's post as a reference!


  1. Sounds like Keith is settling in to a very satisfying retirement! I, too, am about 9 months into this new life of mine. The joy of leaving behind an incredibly stressful, albeit rewarding career is still with me, and seems to grow each day. Activities and passions that took a back seat to a demanding career are suddenly front and center of a newfound life that is incredibly rewarding.

    As far as the structured day, I can relate to that. For me, the imposed structure from a demanding career has transitioned to a more loosely structured day created by me, not others. I still marvel that I get to create each day, week, month, year as I see fit :-)

    1. Like Keith I had a very rigid structure for the first several years of my retirement. I thought that was the best way to accomplish all I thought I should. But, at some point I decided that for me that much scheduling wasn't working. I wasn't accomplishing what I thought I should and I was getting stressed in the process. Now, I have a basic to-do list that I try to complete on a flexible timetable each day. It has worked well for me.

  2. Interesting, Bob. I'm about six months into retirement now. My days are somewhat structured with h/h chores in the morning, lunch with my wife- she's still working- library/ riding bicycle in the afternoon, groceries, etc. "Etc" includes a nap most days. I have dinner ready for my wife when she gets home. I still get those Sunday evening jitters as all fully employed people do, until I remember, Oh! That's not me anymore!
    One thing I enjoy is the spontaneity I have when other situations come up. Yesterday, a widow at our church had a dead battery in her car. Our youth minister and I were able to help her out and installed a new one for her. Not only did we help her, but it was really satisfying and fun.
    One aspect of retirement that has been a very pleasant surprise is the financial one. We have had no problems in this area. Of course, finances are so personal that this won't be the case for everyone, but for folks who are on the fence about retirement about money but who don't have major debt, I say go ahead. Have that emergency fund, but enjoy what you have.
    Jeff in OK

    1. Great summary of a successful approach to retirement, Jeff. Helping others, having the freedom to adjust your day-to-day routine, and realizing that you have finances under control = happiness.

      Financial awareness is critical, but is actually more under our control than most of us realize. We all have a budget with discretionary spending that is adjustable. Usually we can change a life circumstance to make our lifestyle fit our resources.

      Fear prevents too many folks from taking that step. Thanks for your thoughts, Jeff.

  3. Personally, I can fully appreciate the manner in which Keith has begun his retirement. He has a variety of activities that range from Slow-Go to Go-Go, and is clearly planning to live as active a life in retirement as I would guess he lived pre-retirement. It also gives credibility to the statement that we simply become more of who we already are as we get older.

    I recognize that some may see his defined schedule as somehow being adverse to retirement, however, some of us thrive on this type of regiment, myself being one of those. The daily release of adrenaline is critical to my sense of well being, and I would guess it's true for Keith as well, so good on him as they say.

    1. That is the true joy of retirement.....there are few things that can't fit a satisfying retirement journey. A schedule like Keith's (and yours and Mike's) is no more adverse to retirement than someone who spends the day doing whatever moves them.

      The key, as you well know, is the freedom to take whatever path best fulfills you. When working that freedom of structure didn't exist. Now it does.

      How else could you and Mike handle the schedule you two keep and find the time to jet off to Ecuador!

  4. I like Keith's approach. Pre-retirement, I was often asked what I would do when I retired. I replied that I would do those same things I did before 8am and after 5pm but do them between 8am and 5pm. In this highly structured society where busy-ness seems to be valued, it is a challenge to give ourselves permission to postpone and juggle the "to do" list.

    1. I like that way of stating one of retirement's primary joys...doing during the day what you once had to cram into early mornings and evenings. Heavens, I have to remember what day of the week it is....because frankly it doesn't really matter all that much anymore

  5. As one of the individuals who are not retired yet still enjoy this blog, I viewed with interest not only the post but the replies as well. If/when I retire (it could be anywhere from three months to three years - finances are not an issue, if I would finally admit that), I expect to have a very busy schedule. But as was suggested, I am not sure I want to become so regimented as the good Dr has done. For example, today I was out running at 0430, followed by a truck service appt at the local Ford dealer, and finally back to my home office for a day of concalls and emailing. I would never want to put a list together of such tasks since I fear I would obsess over them. I do keep a calendar on my Blackberry and work email that keeps me on track for calls and appts, but that is about as regimented as I would want to be either during work or retirement.

    Keep it coming, Bob.

    1. As I mentioned, the tight schedule approach did not work for me. Since Keith was a doctor having a rigorous schedule is something he feels comfortable with, I am sure.

      After his wife settles in their new home and they begin doing things together I hope he will update us on what changes (if any) he makes in his approach to his day. That would be a fascinating follow up.

      Dr. Keith?

  6. I don't think my schedule was that detailed and regimented when I was working and had kids at home. But, that's just me. Somehow we manage to fill the days and keep things pretty loose, which suits me just fine.

    1. The days do fill up don't they! I am still on the RV trip but I find it is suddenly late afternoon and I wonder where the time went.

  7. I wonder, how old is Keith? He seems to be a very young retiree to me. (And if he's not, oh man, he REALLY makes me feel like a lazy bum.) Anyway, like you, I can't handle any sort of rigid schedule; but maybe I should develop a little more direction in my day, my week. Might help me accomplish more.

  8. This is such a good post. Thank you very much for sharing Being a doctor is not an easy job. You work for 24/7 and all your time you are in the hospital. It is so nice to know that Dr. Keith is enjoying his retirement. retirement. Indeed, retirement is about giving yourself permission every day.