The Importance of Day to Day

Okay, you are ready to retire.  You have your financial plan all sorted out, you have your first post retirement trip planned and you have even started to disconnect from your workplace by saying no more often.  Yet, despite all of this you really haven’t done the one thing that will matter most when you actually retire.

What is that?

Well, I think the single most under rated things people can do for their retirement is planning out what you day to day existence is going to look like.  Pardon? Day to day? Why the hell does that matter?!?

It matters because let’s face it after the first big trip is over and the initial emotional high of retirement wears off (and yes it will wear off at some point) what you are left with is asking what am I going to be doing next Tues at 3pm.  No that isn’t a terribly exciting question but it is an important one to ask yourself if you want to have a happy retirement.

Retirement more than anything else is about drastically altering your day to day existence.  Your job will be gone and now you will have all this time to do things but how exactly are you going to decide what to do and when to do it?  And if you haven’t given any thought to how you will live day to day, you might find yourself bored, anxious and unsure about living your new lifestyle.

So really what are you doing next Tues at 3pm after you retire?  No idea…you might have a problem coming up.

I’m not saying you need to know exactly what you are doing but you should have an idea of what you could be doing.  What hobbies will you be working on?  What goals that matter to you do you want to complete?  When do you want to get those goals done?  What exactly is your day to day going to consist of?

And it is perfectly find to just focus on relaxing initially but eventually you will get the itch to do more than try to clear your Netflix to watch list or finish reading a 15 book series.  These things are fun but since you don’t actually create or work towards anything concrete they don’t fill you up in the long run.

And it might be tempting to consider the fun answer of: I’m doing nothing.  Nothing is fine when you need to relax but you also have to consider that being happy also means accomplishing something  meaningful to you.  Now exactly what that is can be hugely subjective but the key is to have something long term that you are working towards.

What exactly are you going to be doing with your life now that you are retired?  For me, one of my big things is writing books.  Why?  I really love reading and writing books.  It’s really time consuming work to do and yes it is frustrating at times but I enjoy the result.   But that is just my answer, you need to find your own and while you don’t need to know exactly right away giving the matter some thought  can significantly improve our odds of enjoying your retirement.

After that then you can look at building out what your day to day will consist of.  Keep in mind you can fill it with many things and keep changing it up.  I, for example, like to cycle through hobbies.  So this week I might focus on playing old school video games, next week will be focused on building terrain for our D&D game and the week after I might focus on reading a few books.  The point is I like the variety of hobbies and it allows me breaks on them when I get stuck on something.

So what do you plan to fill your day to day with?

8 thoughts on “The Importance of Day to Day”

  1. For me, the bigger change to my daily lifestyle began when I changed my work schedule from full-time to part-time back in 2001. The part-time schedule included a mostly telecommuting deal, so I was home a lot even on the days I worked from home.

    In preparation for this, I had scoped out two hobbies I wished to pursue once my new work schedule went into effect. Both of these things required some advanced planning before I could begin doing them. One was doing some volunteer work in local area schools, but because my work schedule change began in August, I had some time to get everything arranged by the time school resumed in September (and it wasn’t until October when my work began).

    My point here is to see if anything you plan to do with your added free time needs any advance preparation, and to make sure you begin that stuff so you are ready to go.

  2. I firmly believe that as long as the world contains books. dogs and the internet, there’s no reason for anyone to be bored.
    My best friend retired a year ago and found that building some structure in her week works for her. Her husband, on the other hand, is happy to take a more leisurely path.

  3. I am hoping to volunteer when I retire, either doing something like Meals on Wheels or at a retirement home. I find the older I get, the more I really miss my grandparents. So I want to volunteer with the elderly, before I become the elderly!! My plan is to retire at 55.

  4. This article is spot on. I find myself wanting more – I haven’t found “IT” yet. I don’t have a set routine but do exercise , walk and have fixed, painted and repaired everything in the house and some of my neighbours to boot! I think you hit he nail on the head when you talk about the need to accomplish something. I volunteer from time to time at 3 different charities and take some fitness classes but, while they are something to look forward to now and then, I don’t find that there is an actual goal there and am not actually feeling fulfilled. Looking for additional thoughts on the subject and what gets you feeling productive rather than “busy”. Many thanks

  5. Nothing to do in retirement? That’s a highly abstract concept my brain can’t comprehend. Consider the following parallel: not far from where I live there’s a small hydroelectric plant that feeds a maximum of 600 kilowatts into the provincial power grid. If it stops running and the output breaker trips, does it cause a large scale blackout like what happened on August 14, 2003? I say it won’t because that 600 kilowatts is insignificant compared to the available power generation across the entire continent. Similarly, when the major disruptive inconvenience of a job is removed from my life there’s more than enough to see, do, and experience to fill the void every day, hour, minute, second, millisecond and microsecond.
    At long last I have time to do other things. Normally I’d be off travelling now, as 3 years ago I was in Mumbai, India and 4 years ago I was scuba diving in Ko Tao, Thailand, and 2 years ago I was getting ready to take off to Australia and New Zealand. I haven’t gotten away recently as I’ve been too busy with hobbies, as well as helping friends, family, and others with various projects. I have a whole book case of reading material I haven’t got around to yet, and have also been doing some self study in Spanish, should I desire to go touring in Latin America.

    My father retired in 1988 and has yet to be bored with the beautiful paradise on Earth freedom of being retired. Someone please tell me, where’s this boredom with being retired? I think it’s just another urban myth.

  6. Due to my circumstances and outlook, I no longer think of retirement as an end goal, but rather a gradual thing. The best day of my dad’s life was the day he retired. The worst day of my dad’s life was likely that same day (he passed on many years back).

    I’ve worked doggedly since I was essentially 13 years old. A few years ago I drastically changed gears, quitting the office and embracing a lifestyle change that keeps me physically busy at handyman and outdoor jobs that I enjoy. I can’t afford to ‘stop working’, but I felt that my health could no longer afford the office and commuting stress. So, at 47, I hope to chug along for several decades at this endeavour with perhaps a slow trailing off, at (mostly) my preferred pace. Should my health falter, I’m sure I’ll find something else to do. A trade off, if you will, of having a continued lifestyle of healthy work at a slower pace vs. less years of unhealthy work with other end goals in mind.


  7. @Rick H – Bravo for having the courage to get off the treadmill of office & commuting stress and to pursue something that you enjoy. I think in concept this is the essence of FIRE – not everyone can or should quit working but as a race we do need to do what makes us happy and feel rewarded. Stay healthy.

  8. Thanks for the comments everyone. I appreciate you sharing your experience or hopes.

    @Doug – You don’t know boredom because you adjusted well to your retirement. Not everyone does adjust well and so boredom can happen. As I’m doing research for the book I’m starting to realize just how important intention is to your retirement choices. Congratulations on never getting bored!

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