By Dave Hughes, RetireFabulously.com
I’ve been retired for nine months now. In some ways, the time has flown by. In other ways, work is now a distant memory.
I’m often asked by friends, “How’s retirement?” My answer is always “Great!” And overall, it is.
During retirement I’ve had happy, blissful days and I’ve had depressing, frustrating days – much the same as any other phase of life.
Here are five things I’ve learned about being retired, followed by three key takeaways for you.
1. I don’t miss work
I certainly don’t miss the deadlines, the performance reviews, the office politics, the noisy cubicles, or anything else.
I knew that most of my work friendships would fall away quickly, and they did. The only thing I had in common with most of my work friends was that we worked together. Our primary communication channels were work-based systems (email, calendars, etc.) and I became disconnected from all those systems when I left.
I do, however, miss the paycheck.
2. It’s easy to be unfocused and undisciplined
I’ve never been a morning person. To me, not having to answer to an alarm clock is the ultimate freedom.
But I realize I’m not getting as much done as I should. I may have to go back to using an alarm clock and put myself on a more disciplined schedule.
This generates some cognitive dissonance for me. I always looked forward to enjoying a retirement that was unstructured and free. But I’m trying to build two enterprises (Retire Fabulously! and Presenting for Excellence), and that takes time.
I’m still working on finding the right balance between enjoying the freedom that retirement brings and being productive.
3. I have to expend more effort to create social interaction
My husband and I belong to two musical ensembles, which provide us with plenty of contact with friends and acquaintances. We invite friends to our house at least once a month, and we receive invitations to get together with others.
Without our jobs, we don’t see as many humans each day as we used to. Going out to lunch and having hallway conversations with co-workers was relatively effortless.
Now, we have to make the effort to get together with people. It’s not difficult, but it doesn’t happen by itself.
4. It’s easy to spend all day in front of a computer
While I worked, I spent much of each day in front of a computer, and that has created a deeply engrained habit. A lot of contact with friends takes place via computer, and it has become our primary source for information of all sorts.
Plus, writing my blog and researching information for content is all done on my computer, as well as effort that goes into my other business, Presenting for Excellence. Effectively, I still work in front of a computer.
While I do get out of the house for my musical, social, and shopping activities, I often think I should be spending more time outdoors or at least away from the computer.
5. Even the best budgeters and planners are sometimes foiled by unexpected expenditures
We have done a pretty good job of keeping our spending within the budget limits we had set. But we have been hit with some expenditures that went beyond the amount we had allotted.
We had to replace both of our air conditions – $17,000. Ouch! We had our palm trees skinned – $1120. We needed a termite treatment and 2-3 exterminator visits. And I now have to replace three crowns.
Here are three suggestions for anyone who is within a few years of retirement:
1. Devote some thought to how you want your days to look after you retire.
Actually write down how you envision that you will spend a typical day and what your schedule will look like for a typical week. Don’t forget to leave some time for mundane things like household chores and grocery shopping.
If you find that your vision for an average day in retirement is entirely recreational, or disproportionately devoted to any one thing, you might want to scale back this highly idealized vision into something more realistic.
Remember that a healthy retirement lifestyle should include a balance of activities that are physically engaging, mentally stimulating, socially engaging, and fulfilling.
2. Allow yourself some spontaneity, but don’t expect to live with no plan at all.
There will be some days when you don’t feel like sticking to the plan and you would rather do something else, or nothing. That’s fine, in moderation. It’s one of the joys of retired life.
But having no plan for how you will spend your time is a recipe for boredom and unhappiness. If you have no idea what you’ll do each day, you’ll sit in front of the TV or the computer all day, and you’ll be miserable. That’s unhealthy, too.
3. Leave some wiggle room in your budget for unexpected expenses.
While formulating a realistic budget is essential, you can’t anticipate everything. You might want to enjoy some unexpected recreation, too!
This post is abbreviated from its original version. You can read the full article here.
Dave Hughes created RetireFabulously.com to help you envision, plan for and ultimately enjoy the best retirement possible. Most articles focus on the non-financial, “lifestyle” aspects of retirement, such as successfully transitioning from work to leisure, choosing where to live, identifying the things that will make retirement happy and fulfilling, and more. Dave is available for speaking engagements and workshops, and also offers training and coaching on excellent presentation skills. Dave lives in Chandler, AZ with his husband, Jeff, and Missy, the world’s smartest and cutest Yorkie-poo.