I have been retired for a few years and am just beginning to get a hint of how good it can be. I always figured I would shed few tears leaving the working world behind. And having the gift of unlimited free time to spend days as I see fit is a dream. But until I began waking up day after day in complete control of my own life and calendar, retirement remained just an interesting concept. I looked forward to it without truly comprehending its potential.
Over the past few years I have begun spreading my retired wings. Although these initial retirement years have been experienced solo because my wife is still on the job, I believe I am getting a feel for what can be. While I anxiously anticipate her joining me in this journey, I have taken it upon myself to get started. Here are a few favorite things you can look forward to:
Time to exercise. I now control when and how I get my daily exercise. While on the job my only chance to get a workout was to sneak away at lunch. With a strict 60 minute timeline I had to somehow drive to the spa, find parking at a typically busy time and hurriedly dress. Then somehow I had to get through a worthwhile exercise routine before racing to the crowded showers, dressing while typically still damp and dashing back to make my next appointment. It was challenging and sometimes seemed a bit more pain than gain. Retirement is a whole different bag. I now have the time to work out when the crowds are absent. I can alter my routine based upon what I want or need to be focusing on. I can spend as much time as I want and even partake in the luxury of a steam bath before departing. Best of all, I am now free to exercise when I am most motivated to do so. This new freedom allows me to more effectively integrate exercise into my day and hopefully reap long-term benefits as a result.
Weekends are just another day. Once my wife joins me full time in retirement, we will no longer be forced to live only for the weekends. In fact, our weekends will suddenly become seven days long. As retirees we can experience the joy and financial benefits of taking advantage of midweek deals and specials. Slow times for hotels and bed and breakfasts mean better prices for those of us with available time. We leave behind the crowds and traffic as well as the frantic intensity that often accompanies weekend undertakings. I feel this ability to explore our world at a more leisurely pace without breaking the budget is one of the best things about being retired.
Creative energy. I am learning it is up to me to kindle and sustain worthwhile interests to occupy my time. No one else is going to fill my calendar. The work-related moments that stimulated my brain are gone. I must take the reins if I hope to stay sharp. The wonderful thing is there are so many ways to go. On the creative side, there is time to write, draw, build and sculpt. Entertainment that exercises the brain can be found in puzzles, games and various mental challenges. We might learn a language or study a favorite course. There are so many options, and we get to make the choices. Finding just the right mix is a worthy retirement undertaking.
My retirement journey is in the early stages, but the initial signs are positive. I am learning it takes effort to make the most of the wonderful freedom that fills my days. But I am also realizing that the effort is well worth it. The freedom to make choices that impact how I spend my time is certainly one of the best things about being retired.
Dave Bernard blogs at Retirement-Only The Beginning.
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