What woman wouldn’t want to trade heels for tennis shoes? Recently one of my retired friends said that was one of her favorite things about retirement. This light-hearted comment got me thinking about my 6 years of retirement and what I liked and disliked.
Small things make me smile. The other day I realized that I LOVE not washing and styling my hair each day like I had to do while working. Though that sounds kind of crazy, it’s a simple pleasure (or laziness) of retired life. And I really love the total absence of meetings and conference calls!
But one thing that troubles me about retirement is whether my daily activities are making a difference for anyone besides me. When I worked, I knew how my job made a difference for the company. If I was managing an Information Technology project, I understood how it helped achieve the company’s strategy or profitability. Although it may sound a bit self-absorbed, I question now if anything I’m doing is helping the world around me.
I started wondering whether anyone else felt the same way about their own retirement experience. So I decided to poll 12 friends about their retirement likes and dislikes. These folks range in age from 50 to 72, and they have been retired anywhere from 3 months to 17 years. I promised them I wouldn’t use their names, so I quote them below without names. Here are the results of my mini-investigation into how people feel about retirement:
What are your favorite things about retirement?
1. Not using an alarm clock and sleeping better
“Having more time for sleep and not having to set an alarm (most days). I was ‘burning the candle at both ends’ during my working days, doing many activities in the evenings and getting only 4-5 hours of sleep each night. Now I get 6 or more hours most nights, which is better for my health, helps to lower stress, makes my mind function better, etc. “
“…not getting out of bed when I don’t wish to. That said, I have always been an early bird and awaken in the wee hours. But now I can enjoy a cup of coffee in bed before embarking upon the day.”
2. Freedom to decide my own schedule
“My absolute favorite thing about retirement has been freedom. I am not necessarily free of all responsibilities but I do have much more freedom about when to do things. I’ve also been careful not to over-commit in order to maintain that freedom. I like feeling less overwhelmed by what I feel I need to get done.”
“Errands like grocery shopping are not limited to evenings or weekends and appointments are scheduled at my convenience…”
“More flexibility to travel and not have to structure everything around a weekend as we had in the past. We can leave on a Tuesday and come back on a Friday for example.
“Having a schedule flexible enough to take advantage of the surprise encounter with someone and not having to run off to another appointment or meeting.”
3. It’s the little things that I enjoy
“I LOVE Sunday nights-what used to be the worst day of the week as I would dread Monday morning’s return to work, now it’s the best feeling there is knowing that I don’t have to get up for that-especially in the cold and snow!”
“Staying up to watch the end of the Super Bowl or Academy awards and not paying for it at work the next day.”
4. Giving back to the community
“Putting time into service to others that I didn’t take the time for while I was working and raising a family. I have received so many blessings from assisting and helping others; much more than the time or effort it takes to assist.”
“A very fulfilling aspect of retirement was to be able to give back some of what I have learned… a part-time job as an adjunct professor at my alma mater as an instructor in Chemical Engineering laboratory. I am able to introduce to the students the practical side of engineering…”
5. Time to practice my faith
“I have pursued prayer and faith more diligently than in years past. It is a transformative process that brings serenity and peace to most all of my daily interactions.”
“…To study the Bible, strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ and to serve people in a way that honors my Christian faith.”
6. Spending time with Friends and family
“The chance to spend quality time with my family, extended family, friends, neighbors and our church family…I really value spending time building meaningful relationships with all the people in my life.”
“More quality time with my family and friends. I can almost spontaneously babysit my grandson, take my dad to a doctor appointment or binge watch Netflix with my friends.”
“Pursuing more meaningful and lasting times with friends and family. It’s easy to forget how important our relationships are to our health and well being.”
7. Finally I have time for hobbies
“Resurrecting abandoned hobbies. I pretty much stopped playing guitar…, as there just didn’t seem to be the time to commit to it. I have recently begun the practice again which has been therapeutic.”
“Pursuing hobbies and interests in more depth…If I want to take a day to read, listen to music, cook or grill out, go vinyl (record) shopping or do puzzles I just do it with no guilt.”
“Having time to stay up on current affairs or reading a book just for fun. Makes for far more interesting dinner conversation than work!”
8. Less Stress
“Less stress all around. I could never turn work off mentally and often on weekends I was mentally consumed in the challenges of the upcoming week. It has been very liberating to be relieved of all the day-to-day problems that created stress.”
“… being so much more ‘present’ in whatever I’m doing since I’m not thinking about getting home to that email or answering text messages from work.”