Retirement is seen as the time that you finally get to relax, enjoy life and get to some of those hobbies, vacations and projects that you never had time for in your working life.
But some retirees lose the plot after a while and fall into depression, lethargy and lose interest in many of the things that brought them joy in the first place.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) suggests that retirement may initially benefit health, because it reduces stress and creates time for many leisure activities and hobbies. But these benefits decrease the longer retirement goes on, why?
Their study found that retirement increases the chances of clinical depression by around 40%, and of having at least one diagnosed physical illness by 60%.
Many factors contributed to this outcome. Loneliness, immobility, inactivity and aging to name but a few.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to come to this.
Proper planning for the future is essential.
My story is similar to many, it started off in a very innocuous way. I still remember the words I told my wife at the time….”I’m bored”.
I heard myself mutter this some months after I’d finished capitulating to my 6:00a.m. alarm clock, interrupting my peaceful slumbers for the past 40+ years.
I was finding that all the fun things I dreamed about doing once I retired were no longer an option for me or they somehow had conditions set on them.
I did a little soul searching, something had to change. Oddly enough I reverted back to the skill set I once loathed in my working life.
I started to “Plan and Organize”, I shudder to even say the words out loud.
When planning for retirement, I did what most people do and stopped the planning process right after the financial part.
I never stopped to think of what retirement would “actually” consist of, especially taking into account that I agreed with my wife’s astute diagnoses of me, I was “a person who can’t sit still” (this is the medical term, I believe).
I remembered Newton’s first law of motion – sometimes referred to as the law of inertia. An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
I came to realize that “I” had to be that “unbalanced force”.
With that said, I knew I didn’t want to fall into the trap of watching daytime soaps with a bag of Cheetos on my ever expanding paunch. I also knew, it was very real possible if I wasn’t careful.
“Staying at rest” was something I wanted to put off for as long as I possibly could!
Those 2 dirty words, plan and organize, proved to be my answer.
My first action was to buy a very nice agenda, you know, the old style ones.
And a fountain pen to scribble out all my thoughts and plans to take over the world.
To me it would hold merit if I wrote everything down by hand in a nice journal rather than type it out on a computer…Maybe that’s weird, what can I say.
I kept a running diary and I also planned out my year, the big events that I knew were coming or that I at least wanted to come.
Going south for the winter? Yes, How long?
When I get back I wouldn’t mind taking a course on Yoga.
What about the spring? Plant a garden? How long do I need.
Spring fishing is fun, I should plan a trip with the guys…
Summer would be a good time to drive to the coast, a golf retreat perhaps?
Then there’s that trip out west to visit the relatives…
I logged it all.
This was staring to feel good, like I was organized, like I had a direction.
I wonder if we can get a cheap flight out to Scotland in the fall, do some hiking in Skye?
I was feeling pumped up…
Maybe I’d get to them all, maybe I wouldn’t. But my intention was pure, they were my goals.
Everyone is unique and will have something different to embrace and fulfill their time and energy. Everyone’s journal will contain their own thoughts, insights, goals, memories…..
After I had the big picture, I put in the smaller goal and projects I wanted to do.
My exercise regime.
Hobbies I’d always wanted to do.
Play my guitar, maybe write some music.
Build a trebuchet.
Start a fire without a match.
What books did I want to read.
What courses did I want to take.
This was my Elixer, and it worked like a charm.
Then came Covid!!!
I digress, only to make the point that, it is true, “the best laid plan’s of mice and men often go awry”.
But you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water….
You have to roll with the punches and navigate through choppy waters at times but as long as your compass is in hand, you’ll have a direction.
This approach has worked for me, and I think it might work for you too. If you are retired and find yourself in a rut, or even if you are approaching retirement, it’s important to be aware of the fact that you still have to put in a little bit of work in order to stay happy and fulfilled!
It’s a great time, embrace it!