Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Weirdness of Retirement

Creating a regular schedule in retirement helps to make sense of your newfound time and freedom. I choose to spend Friday mornings at Starbucks, where I write and develop programs for upcoming seminars. Leaving the house and having a place to go contributes to my creative juices and motivation. Friday morning I wake up curious and eager to start my day.
Last Friday as I was sipping my skinny mocha grande, in walked a recently retired couple, Laura and Steve, whom I hadn't seen in a while. Laura is a pediatrician and Steve's career has been in scientific research. Knowing that I write and speak on retirement, Steve asked, "Isn’t retirement weird?" When I gave him the what-do-you-mean look, Steve said, "Here we are at Starbucks at 10 in the morning hanging out with other Starbucks people. We should be at work."

Until now, Laura and Steve had no reason to know or think about being any place other than work on a Friday morning. This new environment was foreign territory, and it felt weird.

There is a lot of weirdness when adjusting from full-time employment to having more time than you know what to do with on your calendar. Whereas work responsibilities have filled your schedule and mind for the past 30+ years, now you are in charge—it’s up to you to design your days. No one will do it for you, and if they do beware, it's usually for their benefit.  

I suggested to Steve that he have "fun with the weirdness." As William Bridges refers to in his book, The Way of Transitions, "Things aren't the old way, but aren't really a new way yet either." Decide for yourself, through trial and error, how you want to spend your time—your new way.

If you feel you don't belong at Starbucks at 10:00 on a Friday morning, don't go. Perhaps spending this time at a food bank or botanical garden fits your design. Or maybe you use this time to breathe life into a dream that you've had for a long time, and maybe eventually you'll want to do this with a cup of skinny mocha in your hand.  

Accept that retirement is a time of transition. Have fun with it. Try new hobbies, develop new skills, test your limits, and say yes to more opportunities. Gradually you'll make sense of the weirdness and you'll come up with your own design for retirement.