October 28, 2015

Freestyling During Retirement

A few months ago a newly retired reader left a comment that included a phrase I love, one I told him I would "borrow" for a post. As his life unfolded he had decided to take a freestyling approach to retirement. From that I believe he meant he would not be adverse to new experiences, new activities, and new challenges. After a life time of restrictions at work, it was time to sample everything at the buffet table to see what he enjoyed. He would improvise as needed. He would add what he liked and discard what he didn't from his day without being concerned about a previously set schedule.

Two weeks ago I wrote about my need for a schedule to accomplish what I wanted to each day. Over the last few years I had come to realize that too often I would put something off for no valid reason, except that I could. It was just too easy to say "I'll do that later" and then never get to it. Having a time slot for writing, exercise, and guitar practice increased the odds that I would accomplish what I have determined is important to me. 

Most of my day is not "on the clock." When the spirit moves us Betty and I will decide to see a movie, have lunch at a new restaurant, take Bailey to the park, or simply read a good book while sipping coffee on the back porch  But, for the three things I noted above, I have found that a set time during the week works for me.

Hold on. Isn't that the opposite of freestyling? Isn't my need for some structure too rigid to allow me to improvise or do something because I feel like it? No, I don't think it is. In fact, the scheduling of certain activities frees me to take on new things or change how I approach a problem or challenge. I don't worry about skipping something that is important because I know I have that covered. In a counterintuitive kind of way having a set schedule for certain activities is actually quite liberating. 

I imagine I am not in the majority with this approach to a satisfying journey through retirement. Having even a partially set schedule doesn't seem to fit what most people envision when finally freed from the working world. 

I am very interested in your reaction to the concept of freestyling in retirement and what that phrase might mean to you. 




34 comments:

  1. I think the concept of freestyling (time) works just like the concept of budgeting (money). You set aside resources, whether those be time or money, to take care of the necessities, and then you have what's left over as discretionary to use as you please. While most people apparently see this method as restricting, in reality it is very freeing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly agree that, at least for me, the balance between necessary and discretionary is liberating.

      Delete
  2. Interesting post. I had to stop and think about where I fall in the freestyling continuum. In the relatively short time I have been retired (almost 3 years), I would say that at the beginning, I was more structured; kind of a carry over from my working days. I would schedule things like cleaning, grocery shopping, as well as scheduling fun things to do.

    Three years later, not so much scheduling, and it seems to be a good fit with my personal style. I still schedule a few thing weekly, such as helping my disabled brother, helping my mother. My favorite classes (strength training, Zumba, Piyo, Tabata) at the Y are obviously on a schedule, so those items are added faithfully (and joyfully) to my calendar.

    Otherwise, my style has evolved to more free flowing, and it seems to work for me. Chores related to living still get accomplished, balanced with the more fun things I love to do. Adding in a bike ride or a brisk walk when the spirit moves me is a gift to myself that I never had while I was working. I would add that for travel and entertainment, I prefer to plan and schedule, mainly because I derive so much enjoyment in the planning and anticipation of these kinds of activities.

    I suppose it is about balance, and it sounds like you have found a good balance for yourself between freestyling and scheduling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Travel is a good example of something that I do plan in advance. Like you, I like the arranging and anticipation phases almost as much as the actual trip or adventure.

      Delete
  3. Following a cancer diagnosis many years ago, my husband and I decided I would quit my job and stay home to have optimum time with our family. At that time, we simply didn't know how many years I might have. Thankfully, I was blessed with full recovery, and my early "retirement" forced me to figure out how to best spend my days. What works for me is to get the mandatory tasks out of the way as soon as possible, then reward myself with a block of free time. As years have passed, volunteering has ebbed and flowed, to fit with our family's schedules. Self improvement has always been important to me, so I'm always working on some project, as time allows. Putting my family first, and asking for divine guidance has become my true north during these crazy years. Each of us is different, with various abilities and resources. Early on, my husband and I realized that he and I see time and tasking much differently. When possible, he chooses to start his day quietly, and pace himself with tasks over a long period of time. I wake up early, ready to attack, but I'm pooped by mid-afternoon. The other thing we've finally learned is that we're always changing, so we need to by sympathetic and supportive of one another as we're aging. Congratulations on finding a plan that is working for you, Bob. That's the hardest part!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will admit that it is likely I will adjust my current approach over time. I tend to find something that works for awhile but then something changes in my life or circumstances and I have to adjust again. But, that is one of the joys of retirement. I can switch things up without guilt or disappointment.

      Delete
  4. Scheduling things gives me the opportunity to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. First thing in the morning is for paperwork and the news followed by swimming. That puts me home by 9 for the rest of the day. Grandchildren are the priority right after my husband for slots during the week.
    When it was all freestyle, my time slipped by me quickly. Part schedule, part freestyle seems to work for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like we are on the same page, Janette.

      Delete
  5. I think that trying to adopt a "freestyling" retirement lifestyle threw a wrench into Ken's life! He actually enjoys being "purposeful" and was not ready to completely stop doing work he loved.The BUSINESS of running a large office was not fun anymore, but the actual work itself was and is still very fulfilling for Ken.When we tried to have large amounts of unfilled time, we did not "get up and go" like we thought we would! As Ken adopted a small schedule, working at chiropractic 2 half days per week,this seemed to free him up , create more happiness, and allow him to then fill in our other time with fun stuff. We found we actually did not want to spend hours upon hours driving, meandering, or sitting around a campfire.We want to do that SOME. But we,too,appreciate a little structure. All the other stuff, we do when the muse tell s us to:I've planned a nice spontaneous getaway to a yoga retreat in Cottonwood and into Sedona, to include a day of kayaking , a day of hiking, and a day of shopping the quaint downtown with a side trip to the wineries. The BIGGEST lesson I have learned here into year tow of retirement is: Retirement looks different for everyone! And, don't get your heart set on how it will be.. you will learn as you go and might change up the plan along the way--and it's OK!! As always, your posts bring up so many thoughts and ideas..thanks for sharing!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Madeline. You make a critical point that cannot be emphasized enough: each person's retirement is a unique journey. While books and blogs (like this one!) can help you consider options and approaches, it would be a mistake to simply follow someone else's path or plan.

      Delete
  6. I like Carole's term - free flowing. It seems that demands of the day, week, season seem to dictate how my time is used up. I do know that time is like money and space - whatever I have seems to get used up so budgeting is necessary. Scheduled activities help to ground my week and time, as does setting both short and long term priorities/goals. Prior to retirement, people would ask what I would do. I often responded that those things I did before 8am and after 5pm would be done between 8-5. The truth of the matter is, they get done between 10-5! I love the privilege of a slow morning that allows for reading, including these blogs. for the most part, the daily work and bigger projects get done at a more leisurely pace without burning the midnight oil or forgoing social engagements.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I once read the scientific reason behind the feeling that time passes more quickly as we age. Weeks, months, and years seem to move so much more quickly than when we were 20 or 30 years younger. That does make it more difficult to accomplish as much, but your point is we can adopt a more leisurely pace and things will happen when they are supposed to.

      Delete
  7. I've never been good at set schedules. More often than not, in my work life, I had my own business or worked in places that weren't rigid. I guess I just don't like being told what to do. So retirement doesn't look that different to me. I know it does for Dave, and he does schedule certain things now, but he's learning to let go. It's a very personal journey.
    b

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet when you had a series of daily sales appointments you ran a pretty tight ship. Radio sales people have to!

      Letting go more often...have anything to do with living in a quieter, calmer environment?

      Delete
  8. You hit the nail on the proverbial head with me as well. I am a creature of some form of disciplined living and I am doing better of accepting that definition while also planning/accepting "free" time as a gift to "do" something with. Without activity discipline in my day, I can waste it at the computer or I can set time to go volunteer at the overwhelming number of volunteer opportunities,, meet friends for coffee to catch up, go investigate something new, etc.

    But when my schedule allows for book reading, computer travel research/planning or playing or just being a slug for awhile, I am getting better to work with that vs. beat myself up about being lazy. Basically, I have to have "mission/purpose" in my life and the form that takes can be both work and relaxing. And as you know, Father, Son and Holy Spirit need to be part of this life style for me, from which my peace and satisfaction really come from.

    Feels like I am just babbling now, so hope this makes some sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the sense in the world, Rick. As this post points out, I am constantly reassessing the balance in my life. I am not sure I will ever be satisfied that I have it "properly" figured out.

      Delete
  9. Ah yes, freestyling. Sadly, for me, when I retired, freestyling meant reading all day, doing the volunteer work I WANTED to do & just enjoying that I had no schedule. Like a kid who ate too much candy I'm learning that if I don't allow for what I call the "infrastructure" of my life (exercising, healthy eating, etc) that life doesn't work well. I agree with Janette; freestyling allowed time to go by way too quickly ("What? It's 6pm & we have no dinner, no laundry done, nothing? & I said I'd do that????? but I got three books read!")

    I'm now using a combination of scheduling & freestyling (with less emphasis on the freestyling.) Bob & the other commenters are right; the most exciting part of all of this is that I get to adjust it as needed.

    The biggest issue for me is trimming down my "A" priorities. I admit the ONLY disappointment in retirement is that I still cannot do everything I want to do---the are only 24 hours in a day.

    pam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trimming those "A" priorities - that is a major accomplishment when one can manage it. Have you noticed that the "important" stuff tends to increase in quantity if we aren't careful?

      Delete
  10. About the only structure I have in my life right now is a passion for exercising when I get up, one day running and the next followed by weight lifting, then repeat. I find that if one does not it is too easy to put it off until the next day. Other than that I religiously check the markets to see if there are any options trades that I can avail myself of that day. Finally, I let the weather dictate if I will be doing chores inside or out.

    Other than a myriad of traveling, doctors appts for the wife, and a few other "obligations", I let things go in a very freestyling way. I seem to accomplish a lot when all is said and done, but I don't beat myself up in the least if my days are not structured, day after day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be wonderful if I could see exercise as a passion, instead of a must-do.

      Delete
    2. I am right with Bob! Exercise is the last habit to pick up & the first habit I give up--a friend explained it as, "Exercise is #56 on my top 10 list of priorities."

      Reading relaxation books, now THERE is a passion!

      pam

      ps-I cut myself off up there---the pasop is me!

      Delete
    3. Have always enjoyed working out and playing sports most of my life. Even when laid up by surgery, like with the ankle last year, I would still be doing pushups, situps and the like while protecting the surgical site. I hope I can always work out up until the day it is time to move on.

      Delete
  11. I find that I need both...I make a list of things to do....than take the rest of the day for whatever.....other days nothing planed, than the next day full day.....I feel more relaxed when I do a little something each day......then there are days like today, I have to work at the hardware for a few hours tonight and I just want to get on with it.... oh, I watched a little tv this afternoon and worked on a writing project a little and read a little, now it is time to work a little....in the words of Cain, I seek food, shelter, work .... ronaldj

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A morning of food shopping and some yard work, then off to a meeting this afternoon at United Way. Tonight, the first Phoenix Suns game of the season and a ham radio gathering. Not a bad Wednesday.

      Delete
    2. Food shopping! After a year and a half in a mountain town where the grocery store was 30 minutes away and fresh produce was almost DOUBLE in price... I LOVE my Wednesday food ads.. I can go to Fry's or Sprouts in just FIVE MINUTES and pay 48 cents for a cucumber!! Life's simple pleasures!

      Delete
    3. I love Hawaii but just read that milk is $12 a gallon. I prefer the $1.99 I pay here.

      Delete
  12. I find the biggest challenge, assuming health and finances are okay, is getting the balance between too busy/not busy enough. I have been invited to join a group that meets monthly. As I mull that over, I am reminded that last year i joined a weekly lecture series and lasted about a month. I don't like being over scheduled. Between exercise, appointments, a class and socializing that's enough. On the other hand, it's so easy to put to tomorrow...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my case it is also a question of balance - too much leisure versus enough to keep my blood pumping. I was overbooked for a couple of years but the last few I have been more focused on staying busy enough. My natural state is one of rest, but I know that is not good for my mind or body.

      Delete
  13. I have absolutely no schedule at home, and my schedule is probably like Carole's only looser. I do walk every day, or go to the pool, but not at the same time. My only scheduling comes from the external: knitting group, Lifelong learning classes, volunteering and so on. I don't do group exercise so that Is not in there. I wake when I feel like it and every day is different, depending. I do GENERALLY plan travel, but I do not make a day by day schedule as such. Unless I need to preorder tickets to a play or a museum. The more I am retired, the less scheduled I want to be. My personal experience is because I enjoy practicing and sewing and writing, I find time to do what without a schedule.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Barbara, for the "other" side of the discussion. It works well for you, and plenty of others....just not me!

      By the way, I am glad you decided to keep blogging.

      Delete
  14. I am a scheduler by nature and have been since early childhood; I thrive on routine. So it's not surprising that I have a loose schedule for my retirement -- certain things I found work best for me if I do them at certain times of the day. Right now, I'm also teaching a class at the local Senior College on Wednesday afternoons, so that structures my week to a certain extent. Generally, however, a treat my schedules as loose guidelines. They become the default option if I'm at loose ends, but I'm not averse to doing something different when an opportunity or desire presents itself. -Jean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment reminds me of a line from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie about parlays being more of a guideline than a rule. Honestly, after a few weeks of my new schedule routine I may be moving to the guideline model, too.

      Delete
  15. I'm a scheduler by nature also, but what goes on the schedule has shifted since I retired five years ago. I take more workshops now, have more lunches or coffee with friends.I do my best paperwork and stuff in the morning, but that's when the coffee or water exercise classes happen. I spend most evenings with my husband. Still do keep track of everything on my computer calendar, though, which syncs to my phone, so I usually know where I am and where I'm supposed to be!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It has been very helpful to me to sort through all these comments for all the approaches to time and obligation management. Honestly, I may be ready to adjust again with a little less pressure on myself to do what I think I am supposed to be doing.

      Certainly, one of the real joys of blogging is to have a whole group of folks I trust giving opinions and ideas that all of uscan consider.

      Delete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted