Today my sister-in-law asked my husband and me, "So, are you guys still liking being retired, or do you ever get bored?"
Doug and I laughed; I told her no, I don't ever get bored.
She commented that she is a little apprehensive about retiring herself, because she fears she might get bored.
So I asked her, "Have you ever been bored in your whole life?"
She said, no, she never really gets bored.
"So what makes you think you would be bored in your retirement--you'll just get to do exactly what you want to do right now, only you'll have more time to actually do it?"
She said, "Well, I guess it's not boredom I'm really afraid of--it's laziness." She is worried that without deadlines and the structure and demands of a job, she might just sit around all day and do nothing.
Which kind of reminds me of my first few months of retirement. I had so many options of what to do that it pretty much immobilized me from doing any of them. I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices and the list of things I wanted to accomplish. And I kept getting sick. (I wonder if this was my body saying "I have NO IDEA what to do first. Maybe getting sick is a good idea, then you don't have to choose 'cause you can't do ANY of them!")
As excited as you might be to retire--it does take a few months to acclimate. I now have discovered that you can only do two activities each day. That's right, two. That is the most you can do and still eat three meals, get eight (or nine, as the case may be) hours of sleep, manage a workout, and MAYBE write a blog post. After that, you only have time to do two things. Meet a friend for lunch and go to the library. Play tennis and then read a book. Garden and take a writing class. Paint your bathroom (that counts as two things, by the way. You will learn the time-equivalency-exchange rates here: painting is hard work, it counts as two things AND a workout.)
The hardest thing to adjust to, is probably exactly what my sister-in-law fears. Some days, you truly don't have the energy to do anything "significant." When you are working, if you don't have a lot of energy, it doesn't matter, you still have to go to work that day. In retirement, if you don't have the energy to do something, you just don't do it. BUT THAT'S OK! You could indulge in feeling guilty about, but what's the point? Do something tomorrow.
Once you decide that every day doesn't have to look exactly as the day before it, and that you can be flexible, and decide right now what you want to do right now, that's when you get your retirement groove going.
I read a statistic recently that the majority of Americans (something like 80%) do not like their jobs. Unless you love your job, why would you choose to continue having your employer structure your waking hours if you already have the financial means? When I discuss my goal of early retirement with my colleagues, they also mention the boredom factor. They're already bored yet stressed-out on some days at work doing long, tedious tasks (i.e. SOX controls), so they can't imagine being bored all day without work. What? I don't get it!
Posted by: J | August 09, 2008 at 10:19 AM
Now THAT sounds boring! And I had become one of those 80% -- pretty bored with my job. But my sister-in-law is actually one of the lucky ones--she really does love her job.
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 09, 2008 at 10:38 AM
I've spoken to thousands of retirees and many do their best to find something valuable to do their time. I recommend retirees send their time to become educated on their investments and understanding retirement income planning.
Posted by: Retirement Solutions Programs | August 09, 2008 at 11:58 AM
That's excellent advice. Not only is it something engaging for the brain to be involved in, there's no one that cares more than you do about your finances! This can certainly fill up a large chunk of time if you find it really interesting.
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 09, 2008 at 02:16 PM
I was really struck when I read your comments about being sick when you were first retired. I'm just half-time (July and August) and then will be working full-time for September and October and then - tada - retired! In the past few weeks, without the stress of work, I've struggled with a cold that knows no bounds and severe leg cramps. When I thought I'd be having a ball I'm mostly having chicken soup and tylenol. I do hope this is just a temporary thing.
Posted by: Sylvia B | August 09, 2008 at 07:04 PM
Wow, that is SO interesting to me. I got sick with my first (bad) cold about FIVE HOURS after my last day at work. That one hung on for weeks. I was better for about two weeks and the BANG I got it again. Better for another few weeks and then I got it AGAIN (although not as bad). But really, in those first 3 months of retirement I was operating at 50% for the majority of the time. So interesting that you are experiencing something similar.
(I'm happy to report 100% healthy from thereon out!)
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 09, 2008 at 10:01 PM
Only 2 things?? Well, Syd, I think that maybe I AM retired and I just didn’t know it.
I too have a perfect life and a tiny little hobby-job. So 3 days a week I go to my fun job from 10 am to 1 pm (yes..just 9 hours a week). We get up early around here so I have plenty of time to do business before I leave for work. This means making lots of phone calls to travel agents or my family, paying bills and straightening up the house before I’m out the door at 9:30.
I stop by the club for a workout on my way home. There ya go..2 things.
On alternate days, my husband and I ride our bikes to the coffee shop, share a bagel and read the paper until we get restless (not bored). Then we’re off to our on-the-way-home business. That includes the library, Trader Joe’s to get coffee and a watermelon, Whole Foods to get yogurt, a couple of select neighborhood fruit trees where we get lemons, limes, oranges, kumquats, nectarines, avacados, grapefruit, apricots, apples or figs. . . depending on the season or our mood. What an Eden of fruit that would just go to waste without us and we’re still on our bikes so no “carbon Footprint.” But I digress.
Home in time to figure out who we should invite over for fruit pie tonight! That’s probably not 2 things yet, so after lunch I usual head out for a nice swim (yes…year-round and outside.)
(This is turning into an Ode to My beautiful San Jose, but I digress.)
After all that we need a little afternoon nap and an espresso. This ritual includes the puzzle race where we do the newspaper puzzles to see who is smarter for the day.
It’s almost time to head out to the garden to pick dinner and think about what I might add to all that produce to make a dinner!?…(another fun activity for me.) BTW, does watching a movie after dinner count as one thing?
OK Syd, I blogged!
PS Painting a whole bathroom counts as 17 things plus 8 workouts!
Posted by: Wicked in San Jose | August 10, 2008 at 07:36 AM
That is a growing trend in retirement--having a "little" job in something that you are interested in. For some, it would be something new they never got to do before. Plus that little extra boost in "retirement" income couldn't hurt!
(Also nice to hear about your small carbon footprint!)
Posted by: Retired Syd | August 10, 2008 at 09:02 AM
Two or three activities are the most I can do in retirement. Being new to the retirement game ( 1.7 months) , I find I ' m not alone in the reality of only doing 2 -3 activities a day. Time seems to go by quickly, go to the gym, reading the paper, and checking my email ...and it's time for dinner ! How did I manage to to do all the above and more while I was working full time ? It 's great not having to schedule things ; if it is not done today , there is always tomorrow...day after...!
Posted by: Leon C | July 20, 2010 at 04:08 PM
@Leon: I hear you! In fact, now that I'm another year into retirement, I'm finding I'm getting to only 1-2 things a day. You'd think I'd become more efficient, but I'm getting worse. The reality of "there's always tomorrow" is more real now that I've been doing it for 2 1/2 years!
Posted by: Retired Syd | July 20, 2010 at 04:23 PM
I retired when I was 48. Not of my own choice. I am on a disability pension as I have dystonia. It has been almost 4 years and I am still bored. My husband is not retired as he is 10 yrs younger then me. (good choice) I still have a 16 year old daughter at home. who keeps me young. I find the simple things are what makes me happy. I love camping, reading, cooking(but not all the time) I love gardening but ignore my plants most of the time. I have internet but dont find it all that appealing, (you can only be on there so long) I joined a church (my sister said god would fall out of heaven) I now have a zoo of animals which are awesome (but expensive)I love tv my favorite shows are saving hope, once upon a time, hgtv, (I have decorated every room in my house twice) vampire diaries,(those guys are hot)
I have just recently read the hunger game series as the kids at school are all reading it. Its all how you think. Routine, mondays I do laundry and clean my house. Its not that hard to keep up your house unless you have ocd. Wednesday is social day, (hard to do when no one else is retired) I go to the park with my dogs. Friday is beautiful day. (pluck your eyebrows, which is hard to do when you need glasses, shave your legs, check them in the window...do your nails, which have actually grown since you quit work.)
HAHA . I am adjusting slowly , and will find my way. Dont let retirement be something that other people say it should or should not be. Just do it and figure it out for your self. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. To bad there wasnt a group in each community that liked to stay young and do things together, so we could help each other thru this transition. Like, OH MY GOD, I am so excited I get to join the group of bored retired people learning a new life. WOW. ( I am venting) HA HA
Posted by: Carolina M. | September 14, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I never feared being bored when I retired in 2008 at age 45. Having worked part-time for the previous 7 years, I already had several activities I was involved with, some of which I could expand upon with the extra time and removal of frequent schedule conflicts.
And simply losing my long, tiring, and often sickening commute to my old office was a huge improvement!
Posted by: deegee | September 15, 2012 at 07:39 AM