Retirement can be completely enjoyable from day to day, each new morning bringing with it a host of options for your exploration. On the other hand, if you’ve made no plans for this new lifestyle you’re about to start leading, it could be a little bewildering and disorienting. That may sound a bit frightening, but truly, it’s very possible to feel like a fish out of water without the fixed schedule you’ve been used to. Instead of a fixed schedule, what many people have is a fixed income, so adjustments are necessary if an enjoyable retirement is to be had.
Here are a few ways to make the change from the working world to a world of leisure time, beginning with a few basics:
* Make a financial plan well ahead of time. You may have seen to this by saving, investing wisely, and having all your financial ducks in a row. This is basic to enjoying retirement, for many other plans will rest firmly on the strength of your finances. It’s never too late to get financial advice, so even if planning ahead wasn’t your style, you can still make a go of retirement with a little help from the professionals.
* Know whether you will have enough income to sustain your quality of life. If it appears you’ll be coming up short in some areas, you may want to look at some part-time work after you’ve had a sufficient break from your former employment. Many retirees go into another line of part-time work after retirement in order to keep busy and active. Some are asked back to their place of employment as consultants or advisors. Consider these possibilities as you will have more flexibility in your schedule, but will still have a sense of purpose.
* Decide how best to handle living arrangements. Do you intend to stay where you live now, or relocate to another part of the country? Must you downsize now, or can you wait a few years, or do you need to relocate at all? Try to have an idea of the time frame when these changes will be made. Adjusting to retirement will be easier if you know you have a workable plan for the future.
* Now that your finances, possible part-time employment, and location under control, what are you going to do with your spare time? If you are staying in your own home, you will be able to occupy your spare time with outdoor work and do-it-yourself projects inside and outside the home. Many retirees comment that they’d like to go back to work to have a rest! Some say they don’t know how they ever managed everything at home while they also worked full-time.
But retirement shouldn’t be just about filling up your time with more work… it should be about some well-deserved enjoyment, as well.
* You can travel now, if that’s your desire. Most retirees have, at one time or another, wished they could just take off and go somewhere without having to worry about reporting for work on Monday morning. Other people aren’t travelers and don’t wish to be, but day trips are certainly possible now that there’s no “time card to punch.” You may be stuck in a work schedule mentality after many years of adhering to a workday time frame, but adjusting means letting go of the rigidity of that mentality. This can be difficult for some, but it can be overcome with a little time.
* Spend more time with friends and family. If you missed out on a lot of family activities because of work in the past, now is your chance to make up for it. You can plan, host, or attend the events you would have otherwise missed had you still been in the working world. This is part of your reward for all the years of effort you put in.
* If you’re a spiritual person, you now have more time to devote to things of a spiritual nature. Do what you can for your church or other religious meeting place… be involved with groups, ministries, outreach, educational programs, or whatever interests you in the realm of spirituality.
* Have you entertained the idea of furthering your education as a goal achieved? If you’ve thought of starting or returning to school, retirement may be your time to do this. The benefits are amazing, including the exercise of your brain, which you may already know, is every bit as important as exercise of the body. Whether in a traditional classroom or using distance learning methods, make a start. If you have a passion for learning, use your time to indulge your passion now. Never stop learning! (If you’re retiring young, you might just have time for a whole new career with a new degree or other job training.)
* Eat well, exercise (even a walk,) meditate, write, garden, get enough hours of quality sleep, keep a check on your health, dance, enjoy yoga, and do other enjoyable things for yourself. Get a little sun without overdoing it, and get some fresh air every day. Don’t hole up inside… take that laptop or good book outside with you. Spend time swimming, hiking, biking, camping, or fishing in good weather. In winter, ice skate again, discover snow shoes, go cross country skiing or go downhill skiing even if you’ve never enjoyed this before. You can always learn how to do many of these things.
* Be thankful for the many years of work you had, and if it takes a little mourning to get past the separation from your work-a-day life, feel free to mourn for a short time. But then realize again, your new-found freedom. You can still connect with former co-workers, and you may still be able to participate in special events connected with your work. You’ll still have your friends, and friendships from work are what we usually miss most of all as we retire – the relationships can be cherished indefinitely if you put your share of effort into it.
Adjusting to retirement is an individual process, and it will differ depending upon your personality, your circumstances, your preferences, and your lifestyle. But no matter what path you take after your working life ends, you still have plenty of retired life ahead to live and enjoy. Make the most of whatever lies ahead while remembering the past many years with great fondness and appreciation.