Monday, November 3, 2014

Having Fun in Retirement

Written by Guest Blogger: Dave Bernard

What is the point of retiring if you are not going to have fun? Our careers typically span many decades and the challenges we face to successfully prepare for and arrive at retirement are many. A lot of sweat and sacrifice goes into navigating our way. When we finally arrive we have earned the right to do what we want and enjoy our second act to its fullest.

Although it sounds like the perfect ending to a great story, it is not always easy to smoothly jump from full time work to full time retirement. Without a job telling us what to do and occupying the majority of our waking day, the sudden freedom of choice can be overwhelming. If you retire at 65 you can hope to live another 20 or more years retired. What are you going to do with all that time?

I began my retirement journey back in 2010 while "temporarily" between jobs. For six months I submerged myself in the ever joyful job search process but with no results. I realized it was possible I might no longer be what they were looking for in today's fast paced high tech start up arena. That was where my career had been but now I was 50. What if no one would hire me again…ever?

I began to ask myself, if I was retired - assuming the financial side of things was relatively okay - what would life look like? What would I do to keep busy? How would I stay engaged and enjoy my second act?

It has been five years now during which I have been "retired" all but one. The good news is I have figured out - at least for me - some of the important ingredients to finding fun in retirement.

A little routine is a good thing
As an organized person, I do well with a regular routine. It's not that I lack spontaneity - I just like to have part of my day scheduled. My typical day starts with some time on the computer writing and blogging with an excellent cup of java in hand. Next I head to the backyard to enjoy the beginning of the day, contemplate life, read a little something, and pet the cats which include me in part of their daily routine. Time for a workout and then lunch followed up by a good walk through the neighborhood, maybe to Whole Foods for dinner supplies. This gets me to about 2:00 after which I have a variety of things I may do.

Having a routine helps get me out of bed - I have things to do. Being somewhat productive - whether writing or working out or whatever - instills a feeling of accomplishment when I look back at the end of the day. And since I make the schedule I can change it as I see fit.

But it is that routine for the first part of the day that gets me rolling.

Try new things
It is important to keep exploring and experimenting with what life has to offer. Too often we view retirement as limiting rather than an opportunity to take maximum advantage of. Why watch from the sidelines when we can get into the game? Some might decide to add to their education attending classes covering subjects they are actually interested in. Whether on line or in a classroom, you can pick your topic. I recently began to learn French, something I would never have predicted. You might want to explore your creative side, trying your hand at painting, writing, singing, dancing or other artistic expressions. I have always wanted to write a book and during my "retirement warm-up" self published two non-fiction works. With extended time on your hands you might travel abroad for months instead of weeks. What an opportunity to truly immerse yourself and get to know the culture of your chosen destination. Doing new things helps to keep retirement fresh and your excitement for living running full speed ahead.

Spend time doing what you like
Retirement is your chance to do what you want - finally. You are off the clock with no career requirements hanging over your head. Are there hobbies you have neglected because you just did not have the time? What about relationships with family and friends that you might like to revisit? Do you have a stack of unread books you have been saving for the right moment? Well for all the above the right time is retirement. Now you can get back to what you truly enjoy. Why waste your time doing anything you do not want? If you start down a path and lose interest, head in a different direction. The freedom of choice retirement allows is for most of us foreign and maybe even a bit unnerving. But with a little practice we can get used to it. And what a wonderful time we have to look forward to in the months and years ahead.

Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be" that focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement beyond financial. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement - Only the Beginning.

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