to be healthy and wealthy in order to fully enjoy retirement, but those are relative conditions. I’m okay with being well and able to live within my means. I’ve already completed most of my bucket list. What remains is either less important or more fantasy than something truly desired. Throughout my life, if I have ever really wanted something, I almost invariably got it … for better or worse.
So for me, enjoying retirement takes on a somewhat different meaning than fulfilling postponed dreams. I’ve slowed the pace of living greatly and unburdened myself of numerous responsibilities. Although I’ve only been in this new phase a couple of months, I am rediscovering some things long ignored. I am looking over my list of goals with a fresh eye.
In the past few weeks, I have renewed my interest in cooking. I have always liked to cook, but pre-retirement I really didn’t have the time required to do it well. After a full day of straining my brain, the last thing I wanted was to embark on planning and preparing a meal. Now, I can enjoy seeking out new recipes and ingredients, learning techniques and exploring different cuisines. This is certainly going to be one of the key ways in which I enjoy retirement.
I’m gradually getting over the guilty feeling that I typically had when I slept in late. Pre-retirement, it seemed like time wasted. Now, there is no such thing as time wasted … only time enjoyed or not. If sleeping in is enjoyable, I’ll do it without regret. If I feel I am letting daylight slip by, I’ll just get up. It’s no big deal. Every day is the weekend now.
I’m removing some restrictions I placed on myself. For example, I stopped drinking hard alcohol more than a decade ago, but now I am going to allow myself an occasional snifter of brandy, a tequila shot with a friend or mixed drink during the cocktail hour. I’m cutting down on beer at the same time and won’t be drinking it just because it’s the only alcohol I consume other than wine. Enjoying retirement will mean being more balanced in my slection of beverages and savoring the freedom of choice.
Oddly, I have not filled the free time gained from “not working” with my long-postponed personal writing projects. That would be like continuing to work. I need a nice long break from sitting in front of a computer screen banging out paragraphs. I’ll come back to creative writing at some point. It’s in my blood. But I want to enjoy it, not feel like it is something I have to do “before it’s too late.” Having lived with deadlines most of my adult life, I want to feel how it is to just flow for a while. No rush. No pressure. No time constraints.
On occasion over the past several weeks, a long forgotten feeling from childhood has emerged. While sitting on a bench at a bus stop, enjoying the warm sun and light breeze, I recalled lazy summer afternoons when there was no place special I had to be … just enjoying the moment. Maybe others have this feeling frequently, but relaxation has not come easy to me for many years. Neither has ennui, but perhaps enjoying retirement will mean being bored now and then. Not being busy, having nothing to do, doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
I know that I want to add some exercise and meditation to my new retirement routines, but not until I distance myself emotionally a bit further from my old workday routines. Again, trading one set of scheduled actions for another is not my idea of how to enjoy retirement. I’d rather discover a new way of showing up in the world gradually. I want it to be an adventure, not a regimen.
In terms of money, I am making the transition from week-to-week to monthly budgeting. I’m just beginning to get an inkling of what financial security feels like. I’m finding that a fixed income has several advantages over a variable income. The main one is its predictability. I removes the uncertainly factor from the equation. The tradeoff, of course, is that there are no more big paydays to look forward to, but the stability seems to be worth it so far.
New learnings will be a constant part of this stage of my life, some planned and others not so much. For instance, I like the idea of taking a course in photography, but I’m not quite ready to set it as a “goal.” I would rather the opportunity find me when the time is ripe. No hurry. I like the idea that I can take advantage of educational opportunities as they pop up. Whether I actually avail myself of them remains to be seen, but the constraints of “prior commitments” are no longer a deciding factor.
It is fun to reflect on what “enjoy retirement” means to me. It will probably be something I experience a day at a time, rather than part of a grand plan, and that’s just fine with me right now. Namaste.