My First Month of Retirement
I just turned the page on my first retirement milestone. One month of retirement - Yippee! You are probably wondering, how was it? Amazing, unsettling, freeing or anxious?
To be honest, it was all of the above, and it varied throughout the month. I captured my experience below. Overall, retirement has been a good thing for me and each week I am getting more comfortable with this lifestyle, but it’s not as easy as you think.
Week #1 - Freeing
The first week of retirement was absolutely amazing! The one word that comes to mind is, freeing. After 35 years of working, 1-year of transitioning my job to someone else, it was finally here. In the rearview mirror is my work schedule, endless meetings, deadlines and performance reviews - my personal favorite. I am a free man - let’s celebrate!
It was so nice to get up when I wanted to, take a nice walk around the neighborhood (coffee in hand with my wife and dog Izzy - a bull terrier), and frankly not think about work. The days ahead, are all mine.
It was a very relaxing week. I had a big smile on my face and felt a great sense of accomplishment. Wow, I finally made it - drinks are on me!
Week #2 - Anxious
The second week of retirement caught me a little off-guard. The amount of free time (I suddenly had) made me feel a bit anxious. Before retiring, I was working ~10 hours a day, so filling an extra 200 hours a month is a lot of time. I felt like I should be contributing more or producing something. Having an empty inbox and calendar, was unsettling.
I was not questioning my decision to retire (at all), but having the entire day to myself, felt strange to me. I think I’m a fairly interesting person, but I can’t entertain myself all day long.
I was thinking, what should I do? How should I spend my time? After all, I have a lot of it. I love getting up later, having extra time at the gym, blogging, etc., but that’s only a portion of my day. My to-do list was empty, and that felt weird.
Unfortunately, I did not have many answers to these questions. I told myself, this is part of my transition from work to retirement and just ‘roll with it,’ which is what I did. That pep talk helped a little, along with a cocktail.
Week #3 - Adapting
As I began the third week, I shifted my mindset - reality was setting in. I started feeling more like a retiree versus being on an extended vacation from work. I told myself (Greg), you are retired - embrace the change. I started to look for opportunities to fill my day. By the way, I do talk to myself from time-to-time, but not in an unhealthy way.
To help fill my time, I planned a couple of lunches with friends of mine who have recently retired. That gave me a few social things to do, plus retiree’s (I have found out) love to talk about being retired and are happy to share their secrets to retirement. So given my previous week of anxiety, I was hoping this would be a fun thing to do, and it was.
I also scheduled a few errands during the week like, looking for a new driver for my golf clubs. Now, I’m starting to get a handle on how to spend my time. I had less free time this week, and I began to put that retirement smile back on my face.
Week #4 - Embracing
Now, I’m really embracing this retirement thing, and its a great gig. This week my focus changed from “What should I be doing” (from week #2) to “What do I want to do”? I have a lot of free time, how do I want to spend it? The world is my oyster. My pep talk in week #2 worked! Also, my hobbies are starting to kick in.
This week, I was invited to join a weekly golf game with one of my retiree friends. That was awesome. I have always enjoyed golf, but finding the time on the weekend was difficult. Playing a round during the week is great! No crowds, cheaper rates, and I can make a day of it. Also, they gave me the senior rate. Ok, that was a little hard to embrace, but when I paid $20 less, I got over it.
Also, my wife and I planned a trip to visit her parents. Ok, maybe not the most fun thing to do (hope my wife doesn’t read this post), but her parents need our help, and it will be good to see them. Also, it was great to have flexibility when we traveled. No more long lines at the airport - we can avoid the business travelers because we have all the time in the world - not literally, but you get the point!
As I finished month #1, my days (and mind) are starting to ‘shape-up.’ Also, I am enjoying blogging and growing my Community for WorkFlowRetirement. I can feel myself making the transition into retirement.
Can’t wait to see what the next month has in-store.
So, Where Do I Go From Here?
Retirement is wonderful, an amazing accomplishment, and something I am starting to embrace. So, what are my key takeaways from my first month of retirement? Oh, I guess I’m still talking in business terms. I need to work on that. Anyway, here they are:
- This is a life-changing event, and the transition will take time.
- Some days will be better than others.
- Roll with the changes. Be patient, let things evolve.
- Some up-front planning is helpful, but its hard to plan for the different emotions you will experience.
- Don’t forget that your spouse is going through this with you. Ask them, how you are doing or what you can do differently? My wife asked me to bold this point.
Have you made the transition into retirement? If so, what have you learned? What would you do differently?
If you are starting this journey, how do you think about it? What questions do you have?
I would love to hear from you, help you, and answer your questions. Please join our community here.
Good luck and let's #RetireHappy.