The author, a retiree named Burton Widener, describes the tendency many retirees have to make themselves sound busier than they really are. When well-meaning friends ask, “So what are you doing with all that leisure time?” the first response is usually to do what Widener says he does. “I found myself reciting long lists of things I did to fill my spare time,” he writes, “and my most common answer always included an assurance that I was really busy and didn’t have a lot of free time. The truth of it was, I had plenty of free time on my hands, but somehow I was uncomfortable saying so.”
In his perceptive article, Widener asks why retirees are so reluctant to admit that they often have plenty of unstructured leisure time. The reason, he theorizes, is that saying you’re not busy “seems to be in conflict with what was expected of us during our working careers. For most of our adult life we were expected to put in eight to ten hours a day at our jobs, 8 hours of sleep and any free time left after that was expected to be occupied with family time or household chores.” He adds, “Idle time during the working day usually meant unemployment with all the stigma and stress that goes with it. It’s hard to break out of that thinking mode after thirty or forty years.”
As this article concludes, retirees have worked hard for many decades and have earned the privilege of some free time – so Widener’s advice is “to stop worrying about how to occupy your leisure time and just relax. Stop thinking you need to reassure others that you are always busy with something or another.” He emphasizes that, if you can simply admit that there are times you truly get to do whatever you please, “you will find you will enjoy it even more. After all, you earned it, so enjoy it.”
We think this is helpful advice. As you prepare for retirement, taking into account your finances, your health care needs, your housing preferences and other important elements of a good plan, make sure you also do some “soul searching” concerning how being retired might make you feel. If you’ve always been a “doer” in the workplace, suddenly finding yourself with more time on your hands than you’ve ever had before can be jarring! So talk with other retirees, discuss it with your spouse, and think through some of the emotional aspects of being retired. The author and psychologist Wayne Dyer once put it this way: “If you are what you do, then when you don’t, you aren’t.” Don’t let this be your state of mind!
To begin the process of planning for a productive and secure retirement, come to one of our LifePlanning Seminars offered at no cost in locations throughout the area. (Click on the Upcoming Events tab for details.) We’ll walk with you through the elements of a solid retirement plan – your legal plan, your housing options, your financial needs, your health care choices and your family engagement. We’ll help you approach retirement with newfound confidence.
Then someday when a friend asks you how you spend your time in retierement, you can smile and say – without guilt – “Simple! Sometimes I do whatever I please!”
(Originally reported at www.seniorslist.com)