A couple of days ago, I had lunch with two of my gal pals. One is just beginning her second year of retirement. The other, a school district employee, has met the “Rule of 90” qualifications for retirement, but as yet is still working for the district. In our conversation, as the two of us told the third about the things we missed about working (mainly, teaching children and spending time with our adult colleagues), I found myself trying to convince the third friend that she really should consider retiring. We discussed the need for insurance benefits and the fear of boredom, and of spending too much time with our spouses. We chatted and laughed and caught up on all the insider scoop of the school district, and then gal number three asked,
“What is your favorite thing about retirement?”
It would have been easy to give her a smart-assed answer and say, “Oh, sleeping in til noon…”, but as I was driving home, it occurred to me that this is a question deserving of a thoughtful answer. So here is my assessment of this current gig:
- No stress!– By far, my number one favorite thing about retirement is that my days are no longer consumed by stressful situations. Most careers are filled to the brim with deadlines, client demands, things that needed to be handled yesterday…but not retirement. If something doesn’t get done today, there’s always tomorrow…ahhhhh, bliss!
- Fluidity of schedule– I get to decide for myself what to make of the day. Should I blog in the morning or at midnight? No, wait…I think I want to read now, and I’ll do some client work later this afternoon. The other day, my clothes drier exploded, and I needed to call the repair man. As I was scheduling the appointment, it occurred to me how much easier this is than when I was teaching. So repairman, how about we push that back until after 2:00 PM, because I might not be finished golfing before then.
- Freedom to learn new things– This is one of my favorite benefits of retirement. I now have time to explore anything in the world my mind can imagine…new computer skills, foreign languages, building things, reading, even starting an entirely new career. Never has there been this much freedom to pursue interests since the day I graduated from high school with the whole world spread out ahead of me. Only this time, I have a few miles, a few bucks, some experience, and some wisdom to go with it.
- Time to be creative– I used to have so many things I wanted to sew, make, create and try…but that pesky job kept getting in the way. Projects used to be pushed off until the weekend, and then could only materialize once the house was cleaned and the laundry was done. Well now, that’s just not the case. I have so many projects going, I had to type up a list to keep track of them all – my only dilemma is deciding on what next to work!
- Getting lost in the literature– I have always been a voracious reader. My only problem was that in my exhausted working life, I’d try to read in bed before turning off the light, would routinely fall asleep while reading, forget what I had read, and would need to back up a few pages the following night to figure it out. Sound familiar? Well in retirement, you get to make reading a priority and give it the time it deserves. Heavenly!
- Time for travel and exploration– We’re just getting started on this facet of our retirement life. But we’ve learned that we need to Just Book It and go. The concept of being able to decide when and where to visit next, without worrying about vacation schedules and work demands and deadlines is so liberating! From a few miles to thousands, this part of the journey is proving to be a favorite thing!
- We’re never tired!– I know that’s a novel concept, but it’s true. Jeremy used to marvel at my ability to fall asleep every night within 3 minutes of closing my eyes. The truth was that, during my teaching career, I was burning the candle at both ends, and was in a state of perpetual exhaustion! Now, I’m never particularly tired. I used to think that only old people went to bed early and rose early – but now I realize that it’s the luxury of being able to follow natural circadian rhythms – without all of the artificial constraints that employment adds to our lives. We sleep when we’re tired, and wake when we’re rested – and that, as they say, is that!
- Togetherness– It took a little getting used to, and a bit of compromise, but one of the very best things about our Encore Voyage is that we are making the journey together. And while we make it a point to honor each other’s need for space and private time, there’s lots to be said for going down this road hand in hand.
So these would be the “biggies.” But there are a jillion other little small daily things that make retirement just the best:
- Having time to enjoy my morning coffee and read the paper without rushing out the door.
- There is no more laundry day. When the basket gets full, I throw in a load.
- The house is always pretty clean. Doesn’t have to be accomplished on the weekend.
- The guilt free afternoon nap!
- Spending time with my gal pals – while everyone else is at work!
- Shopping any time but on a weekend.
- Not having to go out in the snow if you don’t want to!
- My friends say, “spending time with grandkids.” – I wouldn’t know about that…
- Taking time to really see and appreciate our surroundings – Life is not such a rush!
I know that there are lots of other favorite things. So how about it? What are your favorite things about retired life? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments.