Posted by: drdata921 | August 30, 2014

Learning to Relax

“Retirement: Something that should be arrived at in haste and should be lived at in leisure.”
– Dave Erhard – Retirement Coach

When you first enter retirement, the level of stress is reduced significantly. After all, you are no longer responsible for deadlines, for many the daily commute goes away, and every day is part of an extended weekend. After retirement that’s how it was for me. During those initial weeks I had a sense of calmness that I had not felt for several years. It was something that I was not expecting, at least of that magnitude, but it was very welcome.

Before retirement I had read several books that warned about “retirement inactivity.” The point was that if your days are spent sleeping late then getting up and watching TV all day, then retirement would be boring – life without a purpose – leading to an early death. I took this advice seriously and by the time that my actual retirement rolled around, I had mapped out a series of activities that would fill my days and give me purpose. I would write a couple of books that I had been thinking about. I would become one once again with my guitar and piano. And, I would engage in volunteer activities at the humane society and the local food pantry. It was methodically planned out and ready to execute just as soon as I pulled the trigger.

However, as I enter my third month of retirement, I have not started several of the activities that I had so meticulously planned. The books and musical instruments are still on the “to do” list and the parts of some days are spent in front of the TV, mostly news channels (this is a very news rich time). I am starting to question my will and productivity. Am I falling into “retirement inactivity?” Granted we are still moving into our new location and a house this requires more maintenance than we expected. But still…

So, as I have wrestled with these concerns it has occurred to me that I am looking at this whole situation in the totally wrong way. I am gaining some new perspectives. Let me share three things with you in this post:

In Retirement, There Are No Deadlines

When you were working, you had projects and deadlines. There were key dates that you could not miss. If you didn’t keep on top of things, you might lose. In retirement, there are no deadlines. You literally have all of the time in the world. Things get done in your time, not in that imposed by others. If you have developed an activity plan prior to retirement and are slow to start implementing those activities, consider the fact that they will happen in their own time or not. Don’t stress about delays. In retirement, they are irrelevant. You need to change your mindset from a hardworking player with deadlines to a person of leisure whose only job is to enjoy life – whatever that means to you.

If It Doesn’t Feel Good, Then Don’t Do It

The key in retirement is to enjoy your life. Just because you have developed an activity list does not mean that you necessarily need to do all of those activities. If some of those things on your list no longer interest you, then drop them and find other things that are more engaging. No one says that you have to do the activities on the list. There are many things that can be fun and challenging in retirement. You retirement list is a guide – it is not a bunch of requirements that you need to check off. If something becomes uninteresting, then get rid of it and find something new. In retirement, you are only responsible to yourself.

Some things are the Same – Attend to the Upkeep

Having said all of that, there are still some “rules” that make sense. Just as before, you need to attend to things to keep you healthy. Regular exercise is still a requirement. So, you still need to stay active. I am finding this even easier in retirement. Before, I would get up at 4:30a so that I could be at the gym by 5:00a so that I could be at work by 6:30a. Now, I leisurely rise at 6:00a a much more civilized hour. In addition, I have joined a Medicare advantage plan run by Humana. As part of this I am enrolled in the “Silver Sneakers” program which provides a free gym membership. In case you didn’t know, free is a very good price. So, they have made it easy for me to exercise. You need to continue (or start) eating more healthy. Perhaps one of your new activities can be to search the Internet for healthy, but tasty new recipes. Finally, I spend one day a week cleaning and straightening up the house. For me, a clean and neat house makes me feel better. There are some common maintenance activities that do not go away in retirement.

Like many other times of life, sometimes you just need to change your perspective on things. In retirement daily demands change and you are freer to choose how you will spend your time. Retirement should be a new adventure. There is nothing to stress over – just enjoy! As one person put it, “If you retire right the only thing you will worry about is when to eat and when to sleep.”



  1. […] start living my retirement. I need to take my life off hold. Another retirement blogger, Dr. Don at Journey Into Retirement, recently wrote that, “In retirement, there are no deadlines. You literally have all of the time […]

  2. Ah, I enjoyed reading this. First thought I had written it as this was how I was feeling but then realised that I am not alone in thinking how you think. And, I am enjoying this thing called retirement – but still get the odd tense feelings that I need to get cracking or need to meet a deadline, and then it dawns on me…..

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