A hammock on the beach. Your favorite chair in the living room. Waking up when you feel like it. A blank calendar. Doing what you want when you want. Doing nothing if that’s how you feel that day.
After a lifetime of working 40 hours every week, this scenario sure sounds appealing to many soon-to-be retirees. But the surprising reality is that a life of unstructured leisure can create stress, strain spousal relationships, and lead to feelings of uselessness and depression.
When today’s successful retirees stop working, they learn the “ART” of retirement. It’s about Activity, Relationships, and Time. They experiment, try new things, make new connections, and eventually they create a new daily routine focused on the people and passions that make their lives fulfilling.
Many senior couples have spent eight hours or more apart from each other every single day for decades. Then, suddenly, they’re together all the time. Whoa.
Often, this is the moment when spouses realize they each have very different ideas about what retirement is going to be like. The things you do in retirement should be meaningful, stimulating, and energizing. Your passions should be your guide to a new routine – both with your spouse, and apart from him or her.
Your spouse isn’t the only person you’ll be seeing more often in retirement. Your relationships with the rest of your friends and family are also going to change now that you’re no longer working. Organize your friends for a weekly round of golf. Plan date nights with other retired couples. If there are people you lost touch with due to the grind of working and raising a family, reconnect.
As for your spouse, once you make it through the initial adjustment period, you’ll be able to spend time doing the things that brought you together in the first place. Planning trips and extended vacations around your children and grandchildren will create meaningful experiences that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
Time without the structure that work provides can be challenging for retirees. The very notion of time can take on new meaning. Without meetings and project deadlines to worry about, time can seem so limitless that it’s overwhelming. It’s like an artist staring at a blank canvas—where do you begin?
The good news is, many of today’s retirees are more active, more connected to their communities, more adventurous, more ALIVE than they’ve ever been! And they organize their time in retirement around the activities and relationships that make them feel happy and fulfilled.
Perfecting your ART
Retirement is an ART you have to work to perfect. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn from them and adjust. You might load up your schedule with activities, only to find that having a bit less structure allows you to explore your options. You might find the initial lack of structure maddening, and work on a new routine. You might try a part-time job. You might like it. You might not.