Ok, now that we’ve talked about what literally gets us out of bed in the morning, alarms, annoying dogs, boot camp, and of course having to pee, let’s talk about what gets you out of bed in that way that RJ was referring to when he commented that “new challenges” get him out of bed. Or as Steve, Suzanne, and the other Steve agreed, having control over their days, planning them out exactly as they want to live them.
It may be hard for some of us to understand why someone doesn’t really want to retire. And it may be hard for others to understand why some of us do want to retire. But the one I’m trying to reach right now, is the one that really does want to retire, but then doesn’t actually like it when he gets there.
As I mentioned in my last post, most retirement planning literature focuses exclusively on the math part of the equation. How much money do you need? How should you invest it? And then once you get to retirement, how much of it can you afford to spend? But what about the how to live your life part?
I read a couple really good books on the subject before I retired, How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free and What Color is your Parachute? For Retirement. I made all the lists. Lists of activities I would take up in retirement, tasks I wanted to accomplish, organizations I wanted to volunteer for, and ideas on how I might structure my days.
My list of activities included trying skiing again, making my own clothes, and playing the piano. My to-do list included painting all the rooms of my house, cleaning out my closets, and finally getting some old photos in albums. My volunteer calling would be with doggies.
Now, five years later, I haven’t tried skiing, I’ve made only one skirt, and I finally just called a piano teacher yesterday to set up lessons. I’ve made a very small dent in the painting, closets, and photo albums. My current volunteer job has nothing to do with dogs, and I only started it a few months ago. And I avoid structuring my days as much as possible.
So my point is, all is not lost if you failed to plan for this before you retired. Chances are you’ll feel differently after you retire anyway. And the good news is you have plenty of time to figure it out after you retire. You may even want to enjoy a few months of just relishing the fact that you are not working anymore before you figure it out. Go ahead and relish, like I said, you have plenty of time.
But eventually, you’re going to need some reason to get out of bed in the morning, and now I mean that in a way that means more than just to get your coffee. I mean that in a “new challenges” kind of way, as our wise commenter RJ mentioned.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Take some classes. When I retired five years ago, my going-away present was an Apple MacBook. Up to that point I was a PC gal. So I took weekly classes at the Apple store to learn how to use my new machine.
After that, I took a memoir writing class, a magazine writing class, a blog writing class, and some creative non-fiction writing classes. I took a class about angel investing and another on photography. And as I mentioned, I’ll be starting piano lessons soon. Explore as many topics as you might be interested in.
Try a new hobby. I took all those writing classes because I started a blog after I retired. I read Blogging for Dummies and then I set up a blog. I barely knew what a blog was before I retired. Now it’s my favorite way to spend time.
Return to some old hobbies. It took me awhile, but I finally got back to yoga. I join Doug on his bike rides from time to time. And while I don't do much sewing, I found I loved knitting. I can only make baby blankets so far, but luckily quite a few of my friends had babies over the last five years.
Pick up a part-time or volunteer job. I know it sounds counter-intuitive for retirement, but I really enjoyed my part-time retirement job. Mine was in my old field, but maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try that wasn’t what you did for a living. I’ve often thought it would be fun to work in the tasting room of a winery or in a doggy daycare. I figure since the doggies there already have owners, it would be safer than volunteering at the shelter. Too tempting, and I’m not ready for another dog quite yet!
Travel. It doesn’t have to be expensive. When you’re retired you can take advantage of last-minute deals you might not have had the flexibility for when you were working. I save money by exchanging my home on vacations. It’s a little more challenging to set up, but since I’m retired, I have the time to devote to it. Kind of makes me feel like I have second homes all over the world. And if you travel to another country, you can take on the challenge of brushing up on a foreign language before you go.
Train for a physical challenge. Most of the year I get moderate exercise just about every day. But every August, we bike in a community fund-raising ride. It’s only 31 miles, but it gets me out on a bike pretty regularly before ride day to get ready.
For you fitness junkies, maybe following Tamara’s lead training for marathons is more up your alley. Having a physical goal not only gives you a challenge to wake up to, you’ll get healthier in the process.
I don't mean to minimize those wonderful retirement activities like napping, reading, and enjoying more time with friends and family. But finding your own reason to jump, or meander, out of bed each morning is key to creating a retirement that you’ll love for decades to come.
Can’t keep track of my non-existent posting schedule? Subscribe—it’s free!