September 26, 2014

A Retiree Builds His New Life

A month or so ago I received an e-mail from Carl, a reader who wanted to share his story. Since I know there is a healthy interest in how folks live a satisfying retirement, his thoughts are certainly worth sharing with you.

I think it's great you started a blog that addresses retirement. Everyone dreams of not working. But I'm not sure they think about how they will spend their time. I retired from the Automotive industry after 35 yrs, at 54 yrs of age. That was two years ago. I also wrote songs on the side for 20 yrs.
It took a year or so to get a schedule going. I try to run errands, fish, exercise in the mornings. I am a safety & security volunteer for our private lake and neighborhood homeowners association watch, which I patrol at various times of the day and night. I usually Work on my music projects after lunch and a nap, until around 5:00 pm. Then I spend the rest of the evening with my wife,who is younger and still works. I stay up until 11:30pm most nights.
I believe each person has to hammer out their own schedule. Whatever works is fine. The main thing is having the flexibility we never had while working to suddenly change your plans at the drop of a hat. That's what I most enjoy about retirement is flexibility!
I still make sure I'm producing results, just on my terms, not someone else's. My advice to would be retiree's, is to find something you're passionate about before you retire, and start doing it before you retire. Then it will follow you into retirement and become part of your new agenda. 
Also, always build some goof off time in your schedule. After all that's what part of retirement should be. After 2 full years of retirement I'm still honing my schedule and loving retirement.

          Take Care, Carl



Notice four important parts of Carl's story: 

1) It took him a year to figure out a schedule that works for him. That's just about average. I, on the other hand, was a slow learner. It took me almost three.

2) He understands the importance of having a passion or interest to follow you into retirement. It may not be the one that you maintain forever, but you need something to give you a focus as you make the transition from working to the next phase of life.

3) Flexibility is one of the most important traits needed after retirement. Planning and preparing for what you expect to happen is vital, but so is realizing that your plans might become irrelevant overnight.

4) Build goof off time into your day. In this context "goof off" doesn't imply wasted time. I think he is saying don't be so structured that you can't decide to savor a cup of coffee for an hour while you watch clouds blow by, or enjoying the pleasure of a movie at 2 in the afternoon. 


I can't say it often enough: retirement is unique for everyone. Reading about someone else's day is entertaining and potentially helpful. But, if you try to pattern your retirement after Carl's (or mine) you will ultimately be dissatisfied.



Find your own path and enjoy the journey.


14 comments:

  1. I enjoy reading about others' retirement journey. Some folks seem to have an easier time transitioning than others.

    Myself, I think I am at the point where I want to add to what I am doing with my time. Fitness has always been my passion, and I've enjoyed the freedom that retirement brings to pursue this with gusto! However I feel a pull to add something else to my days. Possibly a volunteer gig, or perhaps a part time job. Just something to shake it up a bit.

    My one cautionary thought is that I have always had a tendency to over-extend myself. My intentions are always good and honorable, but if I am not careful, I'll extend myself to the point of unhappiness. Its always been a tough balance for me.

    The help I give to family members is not what I would call fun. But very necessary, and I do not begrudge the time I spend doing so. But I think that I would like to take some time to serve others in a way that is not "required", and perhaps would be mutually rewarding to myself, as well as the recipient.

    These thoughts are just the beginning of a process of evaluation of my retirement. I likely won't make any quick decisions. I want to think about my options, and make sure I don't do my usual over-extending myself to the point of resentment and exhaustion.

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    1. Like you, I can easy over-extend myself so I can relate to your concerns. I came back from the RV trip with several things I wanted to do: start a new book, restart the blog, and sign up for a few on-line courses, work on freshening the backyard, and sticking with my regular exercise at the gym.

      So far, so good, but I have to careful to stop now and see how these new ventures work before taking on any more. The one area that needs my attention is volunteering but I am at a loss at the moment as to what I should do. The search continues.

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  2. I disagree about one thing: It's unrealistic to tell everyone they must "find something you're passionate about before you retire, and start doing it before you retire." Not everyone has a passion, and it can be discouraging for people to think they have to meet some kind of "standard" before they can be happy. That being said, I do think it's important for people to produce some kind of results that they consider worthwhile -- whether it's volunteering, a part-time job, self-improvement; taking care of grandchildren. Something to get you out of bed in the morning. Just my opinion.

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    1. Passion may be too strong a word. But, you need something to be interested in that isn't work since work will stop. That could be sitting at a coffee shop and reading a morning paper, or playing chess at the neighborhood park...just something that makes the transition into retirement. But, I agree with your overall premise: a passion can't be invented or found to check it off your list.

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    2. There's an old saying - wherever you go, there you are. It stands to reason that your pre-retirement interests will follow you into retirement. The thing about work is that a good portion of the day is taken up with it; then there are the activities of daily living and many of us were lucky to have time to pursue our interests. Without work to fill up our day, we are responsible for filling up that time and hopefully it is productive and rewarding, both so subjective descriptors. I like to think of my time as personal, family, community; "have tos" and "want tos"; productive and down time. It seldom balances out on daily basis but I like to think that it does on a weekly/monthly basis. The privilege of retirement is the flexibility.

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  3. Always enjoy your posts and love to hear other's perspectives on retirement. I am three months in and still trying to figure it out. After a very stressful final 2 years on the job, I find that right now I sleep much later than I thought, stay up later and do a lot less!! I can see down the road that moving my schedule to earlier in the morning would be beneficial for my husband and myself as we are on very separate waking hours. My passion is writing but that can be a rather one-on-one experience and when I surface I do believe I need something besides dusting to motivate me to MORE - just haven't discovered that. So, I keep reading blogs, making mental notes and writing! I love the freedom to walk out doors at a reasonable time instead of always trying to squeeze it in on weekends and after work. We live near water and that is a balm to my soul and the beautiful sunsets in our mountains never cease to amaze me. I am working towards being patient with myself as I figure out what my retirement will be like for the next few years at least.

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    1. Yes, Eileen, it is a process that you cannot rush. The amount of time it takes to develop a personal schedule is, well, personal.

      One of the little benefits of having more control over your day is the ability to avoid the crowds on weekends. Shopping at 10am on a Tuesday at Home Depot is so much better than 10am on Saturday. And, a picnic in the park on a Thursday certainly beats fighting for a parking space on a Sunday.

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  4. Always appreciate finding a new post from Bob when I wake up and check the blogs I follow! I'm similar to Eileen, after 9 months into retirement, I still mosy around quite a bit, I am not as "productive" as I thought I would be! I am resisting a "schedule" but I do need to buckle down and get some more regular exercise, and spend some regular time time in the craft room.I have MANY interests and I'm just moving from one to the other with no set pattern, it seems. I am still in "shock" that I don't owe my time to clients,patients, a business!! Still in "recovery!!" My husband is very happy taking regular 4 hour hikes, motorcycle rides, and doing lots of fix-it work around the house.We also volunteer one day a week. Have a library day every 2 weeks, and enjoy thrift store hunting ,yard sales, and drives to the surrounding mountain towns. It really is a process.. I am enjoying the explorations and the chance to restructure life in a new way after all those work years!!!

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    1. Since your husband was the one who was most concerned about taking the retirement step, isn't it interesting how well he has adjusted! Four hour hikes in the mountains round your new home....great!

      You have the added benefit of adjusting to full time life in a new town with all the freshness and exploration that implies. Even though you had been "weekenders" before, full time status is a big difference.

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    2. It's true! Ken adjusted pretty fast! HE doesn't worry over money like I do, he has plenty to do.. and he has been encouraging ME!!!!! (I get regular "valley cravings"...) Actually,Ken has been invited to take a small room in a tiny little medical center here, to offer chiropractic and acupuncture maybe one day a week or two half days.. he is considering this.. he feels it's still being retired even if he fixes a few backs,necks,knees,elbows! ME..STILL no desire to work in health care, maybe ever!!!!!!

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  5. I am shocked, at only 4 months retired, at how uncomfortable retirement is *at times*. Never for long, but definitely on occasion. And I find it usually is linked to expectations I have at any given point. For instance, if I happen to feel bored, I'm horrified. What would the retirement "police" say?! And if I just want to take a nap, sometimes I chastise myself for being so unproductive. Other times, I can hear myself saying "oh yeah! just try and stop me!". I appreciate Tom's comment because I am one who does not have a passion and it seems like some sort of character flaw every time I see an article implying I should have one.

    Having said this, I would be remiss in not saying that my financial adviser warned me. "You're going to need a schedule, and something that interests you, and when you are at home a lot, you are suddenly going to want to remodel everything," he said. "No way," I dismissed. Dag nabbit, he was right!

    The best thing I've learned so far is to be more gentle with myself. Now I'm trying Tai Chi, planning meals better, and doing a fair bit of baking now that the weather is cooler. I'm also making salsa from my garden bounty, though that's about done. I have no idea what will keep me engaged through the winter. Sheesh! Who knew?!

    Catherine

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  6. Hi Bob - I've really been enjoying your blog and your travels! I think that it is not so important to go into retirement with some passionate hobby. I think the important thing is to keep an open mind and recognize the opportunities that come with not being constrained by work. I think it's much more important to be CURIOUS! You now have the time to follow that curiosity to wherever it may lead! Heck, I didn't know the first thing about blogs when we started this voyage. My blog came from a curiosity about building web sites! Still don't know that much about web sites, or blogging, for that matter - The point is that I'm having fun writing, enjoying the journey, and allowing it to take me where it will! I love and agree with Mona's "Wherever you go, there you are!" It perfectly describes this amazing journey!

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    1. It is a journey with more interesting twists and detours than I could have ever imagined when I retired in 2001. But, it has been the most creative and freeing time of my life.

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