I just celebrated my second anniversary of being retired. I am now officially into my third year of retirement.
Yes, retirement really is everything it's cracked up to be.
A fellow retiree, Annette, recently commented on one of my older posts, that when people ask her what she does now that she's retired, she tells them, "Anything I want." How true. But that's the trick with being happily retired, figuring out exactly what that anything is.
The first year of my retirement I was so overwhelmed by choices that I often felt like I wasn't accomplishing anything. If I was enjoying myself reading, blogging or hanging out with friends, that meant I wasn't painting my bathroom, learning to play the piano, or cleaning out my closets. If I was going to the movies, I wasn't working out. If I was gardening, I wasn't cleaning the house. How does anyone figure out what to do next when you get to do anything you want?
That is the problem.
So the second year I got an obsession. That worked. I was obsessed with travel. I spent hours feeding this obsession, figuring how to get the maximum amount of travel while staying within the confines of the travel budget. By exchanging houses we spent a month in Manhattan, a week in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, and a weekend in Monterey. We enjoyed a pet-sitting vacation for friends in Los Angeles and later accompanied them on their luxurious trip to Tahoe. We even splurged for actual hotels in Santa Barbara and Las Vegas.
All told we were gone for almost three months this year, and without using even half of the travel budget. Compare that to only three weeks of allotted travel time when I was still working, and at more than double the cost.
So now that I'm ready to spend a few more nights sleeping in my own bed, I need a new obsession. So I'm faced with the same problem I faced when I first retired. Too many choices. Since it turns out to be a myth that you will miraculously be in the best shape of your life when you retire, perhaps I should focus on a new extreme fitness program? Or maybe I should get that piano tuned and spend time tuning up my old skills? Or maybe, immerse myself in a foreign language and work on an international home-exchange? What about getting involved with some worthy charitable organization? Tennis, painting, writing, sewing, singing, boot-camp, the possibilities are endless.
If I've learned anything in these first two years, it's that there are still only 24 hours in a day. You can't possibly do every single thing that you want to do and do it right now. You're pretty much limited to one thing at a time.
And following that advice of most retirement books, making that list of everything you want to do in retirement, doesn't help at all to answer the big question. Which thing to pick next?