See that photo? It’s a confused mess. If you try to do everything at once after you retire, your life will feel like one, too. Read on…
When you first find yourself #HashTagRetired, it’s easy to romanticize about all of the time you finally have to do all of the things you’ve been waiting all of these years to do. It’s natural to want to dive into all of the Halloween candy at once, but please don’t. If you’re continually over-compensating for 40 years of “I wish I had time for…” resentment (yes, let’s call it by its real name), you are pretty much guaranteed to end up in either a frenzy or a funk. You are #HashTagRetired now; you don’t have to pack 24 hours into every eight.
In the first few months, you’ll probably ram through a bunch of things you had on the back burner. But once you’ve started your tomatoes from seed, cleaned all the closets, digitized the old photos, and filled the freezer with whoopee pies, it’s time to go forward. I recommend that you look for one (yes, just one) new pastime to sample. Perhaps a new fitness regimen.
Personally, I’m big on endeavors that push the envelope; nothing’s better for your brain than learning something new. Keep in mind that there are many, many opportunities to learn at little or no cost these days. You’re a smart person; you know they’re out there. And while there are definite benefits to getting out among people, the breadth of ways to spend your time in cyberspace is almost beyond imagination. Google and ye shall find.
After a reasonable period of time, you can decide if you want to take on something more regular or involved, like a volunteer commitment or even a part-time job-ette. If you’re really motivated, you can take a big leap. I have several friends who, in a huge departure from their prior careers, took professional-level cooking or baking courses in retirement. I had another pal who was 62 when she went to work for H & R Block; she later became a tax accountant. Former President Bush spends his time painting, which Grandma Moses didn’t start till she was 78. The world, as they used to say, is your oyster.
The important thing—I repeat—is not to overbook. Give yourself some time to settle into your “one new thing” before adding anything else. If it turns out not to be your cup of tea, just move on. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, least of all yourself, when you are #HashTagRetired.
Other than obvious situations, such as holidays or dinner guests, there’s no contest and no rush. You’re #HashTagRetired now, so you get to call the shots.
7 thoughts on “Take your time”
Such good advice, Angela. If there’s one thing I have learned in life, it’s that you never know where the road will take you. I didn’t work for 13 years when my first husband retired–but it was a very busy time as we attended our daughter’s school activities, entertained, traveled (hooray), drove up to Penn State football games, and fit in lots of projects and relaxation.
I never expected to work again (I was a journalist) or to take on new hobbies. But my husband died, then I remarried, and we became very involved in Civil War living history, something I had never dreamed I would be doing. It’s lots of fun running around in those hoop skirts, but even more fulfilling to be teaching history in such a direct way.
Then a friend of a friend called me because they were looking for somebody to teach English at a Jewish girls high school. I agreed, and it was a wonderful year. But I decided maybe I’d look for something full-time, with benefits, and ended up getting a job as a secretary for two doctoral programs on a college campus 2 blocks from my home. I thought I’d work for a year or two, but here I am, over six years later, and loving it. I have also become interested again in social justice issues, which takes me full circle to when I was growing up during the Civil Rights struggle and the Vietnam War.
I would have lost big-time if I had made bets with somebody about where my life was going to take me. I think the best thing about reinventing your life when you are older is that you can make choices based on interest and enthusiasm because you have already pursued your career and raised your family. Added to that, it keeps you active, your mind is learning new things, and you feel useful.
I agree it can be anything — fitness, golf, visiting national parks, making blankets for the homeless, hosting game nights, playing bridge, helping at your church or synagogue—my father took up gardening when he was in his late 50s and chose miniature roses and bonsai for his concentration. Never think it’s too late for anything.
Sorry this is so long. I just love your blog!
PS: I have, alas, never written the book that has always been in the back of my mind. I do believe there is still time for that….and you should always have a goal in front of you.
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Beautifully put, as always. Thank you for sharing!
Your advice is right on target, Angela. I know that when both my husband and i retired – way back in 2001 – I knew that for the next school year I’d be taking care of my next door grands, especialdly the little guy who was 6 mo. old in August ( when both my daughter and her husband headed back to teaching) who had been a premie and in the ICU for a good chunk of time before he came home. i purposely decided that I’d take at least a year before embarking on a new goal as I wanted to check out the lay of the land. i knew I would continue my work facilitating book groups ( which I still do ) and volunteer work with our local library, but after a year I joined Curves and really enjoyed both the exercise and the numerous new friends I made. This exercise program was great fun – and even though I walked 2-3 mi. every day, I knew it was beneficial, especially since I have osteoporosis. Those grands are now 23, 21, and 16 ( dying to get his driver’s license- YIKES!) and numerous health issues, both mine and my husband’s, have more or less taken over our lives ( well, at 83 and almost 81, I suppose that’s not really unexpected), but I’m still able to keep up with my kids, grands and great grands via Facebook and texting . And fortunately, thanks to my Kindle and the enormous font size and my computer, I can still read and do research – and facilitate the book groups. Once of these days, Angela, I’ll write a longer response to your email- still having trouble sitting at the computer for more than about 15 minutes and for some reason my iphone and ipad won’t send mail ( i think it’s a problem with our internet service, not my equipment) so I really need to write longer pieces at the computer. Love following you on your hashtag site…and enjoy all your New England references –but then, at heart, I’m still a New Englander even though we’ve been in NE PA for 54 years!
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Mary, you have always been amazing!
I still find myself galloping from one place to the next! Just poor organisation 🙂
I’m getting ready to take the retirement plunge, thanks for the words of wisdom!
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You’ll do just fine, especially in your Nonna role! As mentioned, we still work, though not at such a frenetic pace. Watch for a future post on ravioli!