Being retired isn’t for everyone. At least that is what my other half likes to say. In a way, I have to agree with him, but not for the reasons you might think. A successful retirement requires more than just having enough money in your 401K or defined pension to meet your obligations or avocations. It means being able to find some structure in a largely unstructured block of time that formerly was dedicated to your job or career. What you choose to do with that suddenly available free time can have a significant impact on the quality of your life in retirement.
At first, free time seemed endless. When I retired as Post Master of our small town , the first thing I did was to repaint our whole house and get it ready to put on the market so we could downsize when my husband retired two years later. I took the dog for long walks, I wrote letters to friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, I took up new hobbies, and mostly I just relished being able to make my own schedule. Eventually, as others learned of my availability, so too did the requests for me to volunteer with one organization or another. I had a hard time saying no and soon found that all that unscheduled time began to shrink. It was time to rethink how we wanted to live together in retirement.
Now, almost seven years after my husband retired from his job as a wildland firefighter, we have learned, that even in retirement you need some sort of a schedule, or a rhythm if you will, to accomplish the things you need to while still having the time to do the things you want to. We needed to learn how to spend lots of time together without getting on each others nerves. We schedule time for regular exercise and cooperate in fixing meals that are both tasty and healthy. Just as important, we have activities and volunteer opportunities that we participate in together and individually, being careful not to overcommit so that we can still travel, relax and enjoy retirement. We have found our rhythm.