In my last post, I spoke of discretionary time as being God’s gift to us in retirement. In this, and the next several posts, I want to explore the “how” of fully enjoying this gift. To be clear, for me, this is like a flower beginning to bloom. I see only a few petals now, but more are coming. These posts are but some of the petals in bloom.
Every year, our GPS has to be connected to its maker and be updated with new routes, attractions, locations, restaurants, etc. Moving into retirement is like this. You update your heart, mind, soul, habits and expectations. It’s called, “transitioning into new life.”
My starting point has been adjusting to both subtle and not so subtle changes in routine and lifestyle. Here are some of the things I have noticed:
- Having been in a vocation that involved me with people daily, with phone calls, texts, emails and people contacts. Now, as I write this, the only phone calls in the last 2 days have been from my wife, a friend, and a wrong number. Emails are from family, friends, and notices of bills paid on line. Even spam has dropped off. I have fewer people contacts (no, I’m not becoming a recluse just fewer meetings and appointments). I have more silence in my life.
- My schedule and daily routine have been radically simplified. With a few exceptions, I really don’t have to “be” anywhere at a given time. I can tinker, putter, or nap (list not exhaustive).
- I have more time for inward focusing. I don’t mean becoming self-absorbed, but reflecting, pondering, and exploring. I am finding more time and a particular place on the patio each day.
- I am reflecting on my pre-retired life-what I did well; what I didn’t; how I would redo things; and how can I put my life experience to full use in my retirement.
- I am finding that I have had a sense of disconnect with colleagues and friends. Since my schedule does not automatically put me in touch with them, I have to take more responsibility for maintaining contacts and relationships. Now, I won’t automatically see so and so tomorrow, or next week. We have to plan to get together. The result is that getting together is more by invite than schedule. In retirement, relationships don’t have to be lost. The ways of nurturing them simply change, becoming less automatic and more intentional.
- I find myself having more in common with my friends who are retired.
- On some practical notes, since I don’t drive as much, I use less gas, and spend less on my truck; I don’t have vestment laundry bills, and being retired and 62, I get some automatic discounts for “seniors”. There are some savings. I do wince when a server tells me that they are giving me the “senior” size or price. Is it that noticeable? I guess it is the grey hair.
I can either see this as a loss, loss of meaning, familiarity, and purposeful living; or I can see it as new opportunity. I can view it as starting over and facing it with dread; or I can view it as an adventurous transition time. New doesn’t have to be scary.
I am confident that God is continuing to work in and through my life. One thing I have come to realize is that I have to take a lot more responsibility for adjusting and finding new ways adapt to the changes. Just as I was responsible for my pre-retirement life. I am responsible for my retirement life. It’s interesting and fun.
The bottom line is that in any retirement, that which is familiar and routine changes. It’s not bad. It’s change. Yes at times, it can be difficult and perplexing. Sometimes, exciting. Opt in for the exciting.
In my next post, I want to spend some time pondering my number 4 above with some of its joys and risks.