I finally went out and bought the book It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, by Julia Cameron. This book, published in 2016, is about “Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond”. I’ve considered buying it many times since I retired 14 months ago, but I figured I didn’t need any help discovering my creativity. Not to mention that I’m kind of past midlife unless I live to be 120-ish! But lately, I’ve been having some challenges balancing structure and flexibility. And yes, I know I wrote about this in earlier blogs (It’s All About Balance, I’ll Do It Tomorrow) but I haven’t been the best student.
You see, I’ve been feeling a bit scattered, caught in a whirlpool of opportunities; ideas to develop; projects to start; projects to finish; things to try. Those creative thoughts are spinning and spinning, blindly flopping around my mind. Although this is exciting for me, it is very overwhelming and I’m so busy thinking of new things that I’m not actually doing anything. And when push comes to shove, it is much easier to do something I’ve been doing all along. For example, I love working with alcohol ink, but rather than trying new techniques and exploring other ways to use the ink, I do what I call “assembly line work”. It’s the same things over and over. They line up neatly in a row. Sure, they sell, but do they inspire my creative side? No. Do they make me want to stay up all night creating things? No. So what do I do? Create more. Why? Because it is easier.
I’m hoping It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again will help me get in the right frame of mind. “In this book, you will find the common problems facing the newly retired: too much time, lack of structure, a sense that our physical surroundings suddenly seem outdated, excitement about the future coupled with a palpable fear of the unknown. As a friend of mine worried recently, “All I do is work. When I stop working, will I do . . . nothing?” The answer is no. You will not do “nothing”. You will do many things. You will be surprised and delighted by the well of colorful inspiration that lies within you—a well that you alone can tap. You will discover that you are not alone in your desires and that there are creativity tools that can help you navigate the specific issues of retirement.” Hmmm. I already like this book, and I’m only on the introduction!
The thing I enjoy the most about retirement is also the thing I dislike the most, and that is the lack of structure. I love going to bed at night knowing I don’t need to set my alarm and that I don’t have to hurry to clock in somewhere. (Of course, there are those occasional early morning flights, pickleball times, or appointments that you just can’t escape.) I love getting up, having a leisurely breakfast, and reading. At the same time, if I do this for too long, I feel guilty for “wasting” the whole morning doing “nothing” except relaxing. Shame on me! I envy my friends who get up and go. I’ve never been a morning person, so I guess it is too much to expect to become one now, right?
Tom Sightings, author of You Only Retire Once and the Sightings at 60 blog, says, “Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some kind of schedule. Remember to build in time for your favorite activities, including hobbies, volunteer work, visiting grandchildren or whatever else you want to accomplish in retirement.”
He goes on to list 10 things to do to keep focused without feeling like you are tied to the clock. Here is a summary, but you can read more here.
1. Keep things in perspective. Time management in retirement does not mean planning out every minute of the day but setting goals and priorities.
2. Make a schedule. Don’t over-manage your schedule but create some general framework.
3. Make a list. Create a list of the important things you need to do.
4. Be flexible. Do a few chores when you can and understand that they will get done.
5. Learn to slow down.Knowing that you don’t have to be busy every minute of the day takes the pressure off.
6. Find your rhythm. Figure out if you are a morning person or a night owl and create a schedule around your natural rhythm.
7. Alternate periods of structured activity with free time. Give yourself a varied schedule.
8. Limit your time watching TV or the internet. Don’t fall into the rabbit hole of cyberspace.
9. Take your weekend during the week. Avoid crowds.
10. Remember, times change. Retirement needs will change over time.
I came across an example of a structured day in retirement, written by Kirsten Veldman that I really like, other than the 8 am wake-up time. That’s a bit early for me. We can push it up an hour and maybe then I will give it a try.
8:00 am Wake up and get ready
8.30 Breakfast Time
9.00 Positive Morning Routine (e.g. Work-Out/ Walk the Dog/ Nature Hike/ Meditate/ Read a Book, etc)
10.00 Enjoy a gourmet cup of Coffee or Tea
10.30 Retirement Hobby Time
12.30 Lunch Time
1.30 Social Time (e.g. call someone/ meet up with someone)
3.30 Relaxing Time (e.g. Do nothing/ Relax in a hammock/ Read)
4.30 Household Activity Time (clean-up house/ Gardening/ running errands/ grocery shopping)
6.00 Happy Hour Time (enjoy a nice cold beer or a delicious glass of wine)
7.00 Dinner Time
10.00 Evening Activity (e.g. meet up with a friend, family, neighbour/ Work Out/ Retirement Hobby/ Watch A TV Show, Film, or Series)
11.00 Bed Time
Time, and how we use it, is a choice. As Laura Vanderkam says, “Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.” How true. It totally changes your perspective. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have a chapter to read!
Interesting Reads and things: