Getting the Most out of a Day in Retirement

What does your dream day in retirement look like? Many people would say “sleeping in, taking it easy, doing whatever I want.”

Hand raised! I was one of those people.

And so it was as I started my life in retirement. After decades of planning, there was nothing more that I wanted to do than… plan for nothing. No morning alarm, no rushing to shave and shower, no commute, meetings, e-mails, phone calls, personnel issues. I’d had 40 years of deadlines, and I no longer wanted a schedule and a clock to run my life.

It was glorious!

Reality Check

Slowly, one day blended into another. Unless we had house guests, or my wife and I made plans with neighbors; I tended to sleep in, get on my computer, read or watch TV. All that was pretty exhausting, so I usually needed an afternoon nap before dinner. That way I would be rested up to watch more TV before bed.

As the months passed I had a number of distractions that kept me from noticing what was happening on my typical day. We explored parts of the state with a few day trips. We travelled cross-country twice for vacation. I had surgery that took about eight weeks from prep time to recovery. The first year of retirement was almost gone before I finally saw it.

On a normal day in retirement, I was accomplishing next to nothing.

Now What?

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I needed some goals. They didn’t have to be complicated, at least not at first. In fact, I discovered the best goals were so simple I could accomplish them without too much effort.

Cue the white board.

My wife liked to keep a handheld whiteboard to make notes. I now confiscated this to create my daily checklist. Each night before bed, I took a few minutes to write down some things that I wanted to do the next day.

A Day in Retirement Schedule

I told you the goals didn’t need to be complicated.

Quickly I discovered that checking off each item suddenly gave my days momentum. I was accomplishing things. Many times they were small things, yes. But I wasn’t just sleeping in and then sitting around watching TV. I found that I didn’t even need to get through the entire list to feel that the day was a success. And if something more exciting popped up during the day, I just tossed the whiteboard aside until tomorrow.

Ok, Haircut tomorrow then.

I also set my alarm. Yes, I may hit ‘snooze’ a couple of times, after all I no longer have that morning commute. But as soon as I get out of bed I turn on the coffee.

Because now, I have things that need to be done.

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