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September 24, 2009


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Syd - I just love your column! I love how you share your thoughts and emotions. As someone who is considering retiring early next year, it really helps me consider all aspects.

Thanks again!

Canadian Dream

Well that's bloody well interesting insight! Thanks. I won't have thought about that particular issue until you mention it.

Philip Brewer

Yes, a really interesting way to look at it.

As a counterpoint, I find that having a routine is the only way I manage to carve some time out of my schedule to be creative. If I don't constrict my options with some sort of routine, I find that "things that need to get done" grow to fill the time available. I wrote a bit about it here:


Retired Syd

@Michelle and Tim: Well thank YOU!

@Phillip: You know, you do have a point. Even WITH my schedule, I don't get a lot of writing done (because I don't schedule that particular activity). And maybe writing more WILL get me to pay more attention . . . I'll try it.

Hey, and thanks for the Tweet!


If you still dread coming back home after a vacation, this is what I surmise: you're not that happy with your home life. Why can't your 'vacation nation' be your reality instead of your fantasy?

I used to feel the same as you-I would dread coming back home after spending a few weeks in St. Croix or Martinique. I asked myself why? And the answer that worked for me was that I wanted my real life to be a carribbean style life. In retirement, I was able to finally live near or at the beach year long, if I so choose. Now, when I 'vacation' it's just the opposite: I can't wait to get back home because I have made my home what I had always wanted.

Just a thought.

I could tell, by the way you spoke about NYC that probably secretly, you were wishing you lived there all the time. Just an insight. You seem to like the metropolis-like atmosphere: always something new and exciting to do. I completely understand because I grew up in NYC and could never move far away from the throes of Manhattan. It gets inside your blood.

If you are still not happy coming home after a long vacation, subliminally, you are not happy with your home life. In retirement, we get to make our home lives the dreams we have always wanted it to be. I would seriously give it some thought, write down what would be your ideal, ideal home base. And of course, you can still travel (like I'd one day want to live in a small, Italian fishing village-and have next August in mind BUT I know I would miss NYC and my beach house, soooooo I'd never really leave permanently. BUT, if I wanted to, I could).

As for your planned daily routine, personally, I'd scream if I did that to myself. I wake up each day with no set plan in mind. I do what I feel like doing. I do not make any appointments whatsoever. But that's what has been working for me in retirement: no set plans. I do whatever the hell I feel like: go for a hike, catch a train to NYC to cruise a museum, remain local for a hobby event, or just sit perfectly still and listen to the wind....whatever! I blog when I feel like, I work when I feel like, I relax when I feel like.....I could never have a planned schedule.

Life is available now to make it whatever you damn well want it to be. You should never spend one second feeling any dread or remorse.

OK. Enough of my 2 cents.

Retired Syd

@Morrison: It's no secret. I'm a city-girl. Love cities. Appreciate the country and the calm of suburbia, but a city-girl at heart. Some people are not, and one of those people is my husband. He compromised by living in San Francisco with me for nearly 2 decades, so he deserves some time living in the environment he loves, suburbia.

While I would love to live in a big city again (and maybe will sometime in the future), I'll have to make due with extended trips to some of the world's greatest cities (and suffer the let down that happens at the end). Because I get far more joy being married to a wonderful partner than I get from any city, no matter how exciting it is. And for that I am willing to compromise.


So I guess that makes me your Big Apple (and Big Daddy too). Love ya.


hehehe! "So I guess that makes me your Big Apple (and Big Daddy too). Love ya." Too cute!

Financial Samurai

Howdie Syd - Just wondering, does vacation get less exciting when you are retired? I'm kind of fearful about that.

Also, when you get a chance, I'd love to hear your thoughts over at Wise Bread regarding my guest post, "Knowing When To Walk Away: Financial Planning For An Unknown Future". As someone who is retired and living the dream, I'd love to get your perspective!


Retired Syd

@Financial Samurai: Have no fear--vacation is still just as wonderful as when you're working. Better because you can go for longer stretches of time. In fact, when I was working, it always took me a couple of days to get relaxed on vacation--a lot of work stuff was still in my head. Now I'm relaxed from the moment I get there.

I'll go check out your post right now!


My two cents? Your post has one important theme: feeling engaged in the moment. You're absolutely right that when faced with something new, we are forced to live in the moment and be present in our lives. But that engagement does not REQUIRE something new, that's just an easy way to get to that feeling. Have you ever tried mindfulness or meditation exercises? Might be time to read Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, for instance. It's completely possible to carry that sense of wonder and engagement in yourself, in every moment, so that you don't need the extra stimulation of novelty to get the rush you describe.
Good luck! Love your blog,

Retired Syd

@Rosie: Thank you!!!! You get it!

Kelly @ Try New Things

Interesting, I feel at my best when I am discovering new places and things to do as well. I do not love the routine either whether it is work or not.

I think you have hit on something that could be worth exploring for all of us!


I am just at that stage you describe - tired of the boring repetitiveness of regular employment and on the brink of retirement.

We humans seem to be habituated creatures who establish a routine and mindlessly follow it. Your post is a timely warning to me not to get too entrenched in my "retirement routine."

Retired Syd

Robert: I guess we just need to know when, in the words of Cher in "Moonstruck", to "SNAP OUT OF IT!"


I realize this blog post is almost five years old, but it makes an excellent point and does so very well. I have been retired for two years now, and I find myself "not even paying attention", i.e. in the "Zombie Retirement" you so aptly described.
My situation, while pretty good compared to most, does not permit me to take frequent vacations (where like you, I also find respite from the "routine").
I am even considering (banish the thought) of re-entering the workforce. If I do that though, I know I will feel like I have "failed" at retirement.
I didn't foresee this when I retired, that's for sure.
Thanks for a great blog.

Retired Syd

Steel: Thanks for that great comment. Maybe instead of re-entering the work force for real you could find some kind of consulting gig or something part time. I found that to be really fun for a couple years during retirement. Gives you that kick to relish retirement more the second time around. Not failure at all!


I totally agree! I hate the routine as well. Don't even like to eat the same thing for breakfast 2 days in a row! One thing I have done is look for meaningful activities that are "occasional". Some ideas - Volunteer doing taxes (Feb - Apr. 15- then I'm FREE AGAIN), work the voting polls (2x a year & done). Volunteer to work a "festival" -(once a year) etc.

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