It has been six months since I officially resigned from my job and began a new phase of life. How time flies. What lessons have I learned? Have I learned anything? Not that I consciously thought about what I was learning as the days progressed, but upon deciding to write a blog I had to give the topic some space. Here’s what I came up with.
#1. Life doesn’t magically change when you retire. Sure, you don’t have the same responsibilities but other things remain the same: the news is the same, the laundry is the same, responding to the needs of those around you (family, pets, neighbours, friends) is the same. In general, everyone else is the same. . .only you have changed!
#2. You need a purpose. The novelty of waking up in the morning without any direction or plan for the day eventually wears off. You need a reason to get out of bed. You need something to think about, to fill your mind with constructive ideas and not ruminate about life’s stressors. If you don’t have a purpose, you will feel lost, lose your focus, and question your decision to retire. In her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert says, “She stopped feeling like she was nothing more than a consumer, nothing more than the sum of her daily obligations and duties. She was making something of herself, making something with herself.” To me, that is living with purpose.
#3. You need to put energy into everything you do. When working, all your energy goes into that job. When you retire, that energy needs a new outlet, whether that be travel, sports a new hobby, your health. Don’t waste it! Re-direct it!
#4. You can’t rely on others to make your retirement happy and exciting. Since my spouse still works, a lot of my time is spent alone or with friends. I am the one responsible for my time, so it is up to me to make it happy and exciting. We are responsible for our destiny.
#5. Money does not grow on trees. It never has. Trust me, I have planted many seeds! When you are working, there is the stability of a cheque every two weeks. When you retire and don’t have a pension, that paycheque doesn’t miraculously appear in the bank. Budgeting takes on a whole new meaning.
#6. It is important to downsize. Do I really need those clothes? How many pairs of shoes do I need? What are my priorities? Clean out your closets, your cupboards, dust off your shelves. You will be surprised at how good it feels to lose some clutter! Check it out.
#7. Freedom is wonderful. Ah yes, freedom is probably the number one joy of retirement, yet it needs to be respected. There are still responsibilities that come with that freedom, but you have the power to choose which ones you will accept.
#8. Retirement is a privilege. We are fortunate that we live in a place AND in a time where we can retire. Sure, CPP does not pay much (I am not eligible for OAS yet), but it sure helps. There are other countries where these social supports are not available, and people must work to survive. And there are a lot of young people who don’t think they will be able to retire as living costs increase and support decreases. It is getting more difficult to contribute to CPP and OAS may not be around forever.
#9. Learn how to slow down. Multitasking is not necessary, and it is bad for your health. It takes time to learn to slow down. For so many years I rushed just to get things done. Now the big chunk of work that was so immediate is gone and I must learn not to fill my time with things that seem like “work”. Retiring is about relaxing, taking it easy and not rushing to get things done.
#10. Remember, your passion is not the same as everyone else’s. Don’t bore your friends! This is a tricky one. When you retire, it is important to have a passion, something you love to do, something that feeds your soul. While it is great to have a friend to share that excitement with, you need to know when to stop, especially if they don’t share the same passion. Find something you both enjoy and talk each other’s ears off about that!
#11. Be intentional. You’re retired and you no longer need to worry about pleasing your boss. You can be more intentional about what you choose to do. Since I retired, I had a couple of small projects that I said yes to without stopping to think why. Who was I trying to impress? What was my motivation behind saying yes? In one case I ended up regretting my decision and had to live with stress and nervousness for a few weeks. But the lesson I learned was not to jump into things. Think it through and make sure it is a good fit. Right? You don’t have to say yes to everything. Being intentional creates structure in your life and a plan helps with time management. Set your intentions and get it done.
#12. Try new things and be comfortable at not being good at everything. There are many things to discover, things you never had time for before, things you never dreamed of doing. Be confident in trying something new. It is okay if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it. The only person judging you, well the only one who matters, is you.
#13. Be comfortable going out on your own. It’s okay to go somewhere by yourself—if it is safe. Your friends may not have the same interests or time as you do, so to avoid sitting around the house all day, go alone. You will probably meet others who also ventured out on their own, others who share the same interests as you. You may not become best buds, but you will become friends based on a common interest.
#14. Keep an open mind. You don’t have to share the same interests with everyone around you. But try to keep an open mind and listen to what others are saying. You may learn something or discover something new. It is your choice. Above all, be respectful. You aren’t at work anymore so if you don’t agree with someone, you can choose to leave the conversation…or the relationship altogether! You don’t have to share an office.
#15. Personalities don’t change when you retire. Some people have unrealistic ideas of how they will spend their retirement. Our personality doesn’t change when we retire so don’t expect to climb a mountain if you’ve never been into exercise. Look at what you do enjoy and find ways to enhance that and keep your eyes open for new realistic opportunities. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t make it to the summit!
There is a fun piece floating around Facebook. No one knows who wrote it, but you can read the full version here.
A List for Aging:|
- It’s time to use the money you saved up. Use it and enjoy it.
- This is a bad time for new investments.
- Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself.
- Choose a healthy lifestyle with moderate exercise, a good diet and proper sleep.
- Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your significant other. (Gotta like this one!) Enjoy your money with each other.
- Don’t stress over the little things.
- Keep love alive. Love your partner, love life, love your family, love your neighbour (well maybe not all of them!)
- Stay current. Stay in touch with the news.
- Respect the younger generation and their opinions.
- Don’t say “In my time.” This is still your time!
- Embrace your retirement.
- Don’t give up things you like to do.
- Get out of the house. Take a walk, visit a museum, see a movie, meet friends.
- Minor aches and pains are part of life. Learn to live with them. Practice qi gong or other forms of mediation to get your mind off things. Talk to your health care provider about vitamins and minerals.
- Lighten up. Forgive, forget, and move on with your life.
- Laugh. Laugh away your worries, share your laughter with others.
Welcome to the next six months!
Here are some interesting short articles to have a look at:
7 Lessons New Retirees Learn The Hard Way (forbes.com)
Retired, Abruptly: Here Are the Lessons I Learned | NewRetirement
Retirement Lessons Learned After Taking Early Retirement (nextavenue.org)