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October 07, 2015


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Hi Syd,
I am definitely one of those guys who struggled with creating a new identity after retirement. For a while I opened up a cabinet making shop. That worked for six years until I made so many cabinets/furniture that it became boring and I discovered that I was sucking in too much sawdust to be healthy. While building stuff I also volunteered in a homeless shelter/soup kitchen and found my then place in life. I went into the full volunteer mode after the cabinet shop cooking the meals a couple of days a week. I never worried what others would think but I did worry that maybe I wasn't doing enough with my time. Too much leisure time seemed bad.

I want to give you a clue about the next stage. I have been retired for 15 years now and my body is starting to rebel against a lot of activities that I once was able to easily accomplish. I can no longer stand of my feet for hours at a time so my volunteer work is diminishing. It is now time for me to realize that I have to be more sedentary than I have been. Things like blogging, diorama building, reading and such now occupy my time more than before and that's ok. It is just part of the circle of life. I quit trying to fight it and have come to enjoy it...


Retired Syd

RJ: That's a good point about feeling like you weren't doing enough with your time. Even for those that don't really care what other's think--we can sometimes be our own worst critic. (In fact, that's probably what's really happening when we think others even care what we're doing with our time!)


Can't say I've ever given any thought to the cocktail party problem, Syd. Parties are an anathema to me and I can't ever recall attending a cocktail party. Anyway, I don't need to justify to others what I do with my time as an early retiree, I just need to meet my own goal of continuing to be a productive member of society. Which I do with a wide variety of volunteer work, as you know. It also serves to keep me "socialized", else I'd be a hermit.

Just spent the last three days folding and stuffing mail ballots as an election judge (Colorado is all mail ballot nowadays). Just another odd job in the life of a retiree. Sure wouldn't want to do it all the time but once a year — or twice next year — makes for an interesting change of pace and a new group of people to work with.


I have been retired 10 years. I have a p/t job four mornings per week, 20 hours, M-Th. I am 10 years older than my wife a kindergarten teacher. She retires next June. While I enjoy my little job, I am bored quite often. My wife's response is I should do more vacuuming.
My retirement will begin next June and are set to see the USA from the ground level. We stay off of the Interstates and travel the old "Blue Highways" and rural roads across America.
My daughter-in-law, a pharmacist, says I will be her " delivery boy/ courier" and my wife her counter help at one of her pharmacies. We shall see.

Retired Syd

Jack: I love that solution--do more vacuuming! That road trip sounds like a great way to kick off your "real" retirement. Whenever I come home from a trip, I always bring back a few epiphanies. Sometimes getting away from the everyday routine inspires new ideas. Good luck!

dpg: So I think it's interesting that both you and RJ commented that you never really cared what others think, but that it was important for you to feel productive (I maybe reading too much into RJ's "not doing enough with my time" comment.) I wonder if we've hit on another male/female difference here--women caring too much what other people think vs. men needing to feel "productive." Probably another gross generalization based on a small sample size . . .

Mona McGinnis

I remember Oprah challenging her viewers to be able to stand up and answer the question - Who do you think you are? How do I answer that question succinctly? I'm still working on it but suffice it to say that I do not want to be defined by my labels alone. I am more than a nurse, a daughter, a mother, a friend, etc. I am all that and more. Then there's the question - So, what's new? I attempt to have an answer to that question that usually involves a reference to what filled my time in the past week or something that I am looking forward to, even if it's the trip of a lifetime planned for a year into the future. And then there's Loretta Lynn's response to the question, what do you do? - Just trying to matter.

Tom Sightings

First of all, thanks for the mention as a "male blogger." So I understand that you used to think men are boring. I'm not exactly sure if you've change your mind . . . but I think at least you're giving us another chance! Anyway, I agree so much with the idea that both men and women alike have to find a new identity, a new reason to get up in the morning, after they're retired and no longer have that old connection to the workplace. Or as you put it, "Boredom is easy to combat in retirement—it’s not hard to find stuff to do. But finding stuff to do that makes you feel good about yourself--that takes more time."


I'm so glad you intend to do a series of "now and then" posts. I just retired this past May and it will be informative to see how your perspective has changed over time. I've read every one of your posts since the blog's beginning but never commented before. Must admit I was a bit disappointed when your posts became more sporadic as I consider you to be a very informed early retirement pioneer :). So I'm glad at your new direction!

My identity had long evaporated from my work, and my new "work" has been catching up on all the "me" stuff I neglected while working--boy, have I been busy.

Only recently have I realized it wasn't that I wanted to retire, just wanted out of that field (and work less so I could have more time for myself). And only now am I getting to ask myself what's the next adventure. It's an exciting feeling.


I'm never bored, often too busy! Love the different slant your blog puts on the "problem". I'm a trifle older than you, Syd, but just wanted you to know that it is possible to sustain a long and vibrant retirement. You have many good years ahead!

Joseph O'Brien

Great article! I have wrote about retirement holidays. 5 Educational Holidays for People who finally have Time http://bit.ly/1R96WE0 Great ideas if you want more from your holiday!

Erin Hamel

I'd like to share this site http://livewellclub.com.au/?cat=53, I get ideas and options about retirement villages and facilities and also for people in their late 50's having the right mind and wellness. I hope you find good stuff here!

Retired Syd

Another great take on the subject from another (male) retired blogger I forgot to mention! http://the-military-guide.com/2012/11/08/will-you-work-after-military-retirement/?utm_content=buffer995a4 Guess he's not boring either.


I just discovered your blog and look forward to catching up on the journey you started so long ago. My wife and I are just 5 months from early retirement (a couple weeks shy of my 50th birthday. While I have been planning, replanning, and trying to think about every detail, my wife is completely relaxed about the change. She has been a stay-at-home Mom to our son, who is a senior in high school. Since he is pretty independent, she sees retirement as an extension of the lifestyle she lives now. I have a lot of status at work and worry a bit about the hole it could leave. I've been involved in corporate & non-profit board work and expect that to provide an answer for "what do you do?"

Retired Syd

MrFireStation: Welcome and congratulations on your upcoming retirement!


Not sure if I qualify as retired. I retired with a modest pension and health benefits in 2012. I proceeded to work for two other employers for the next three and a half years. I paid off the house and got the youngest child through college. So three months ago I resigned. After three months I am looking madly for a new job. I can't stand being home when everyone else is at work. I never cultivated hobbies and the kids live almost three hours away. I am thinking of moving close to them and getting a job. I just turned 60 this week. Any other earlyish retirees. I'm not sure I was cut out for retirement. Did I retire too young?

Retired Syd

Jerry: Well, I'm a proponent of doing what you love, whether that is retirement or work. Maybe that is work for you? On the other hand, maybe you just need some time to cultivate some interests you don't even know you have because you've been so busy working. Three months isn't really a whole lot of time to get acclimated, even those that love retirement would probably agree. But there's nothing wrong with working if that's what seems the most fun to you.

Robert Fowler

I think men do better with a gradual, part time retirement to get their feet wet, so to speak. But explaining the "part time" retirement I found perplexing. I just later said "I am retired". Everyone doesn't need to know your life story.

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