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What to do after Retirement

2015 January 2
by bgerman

“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.” …Abe Lemons

A friend of 50 years recently wrote me: ‘Just finished my final regular day of employment to retire and do things for me, my wife and our granddaughter. Since I’m a retirement rookie, please give me tips.’

Here’s what I responded with:

Flounder for a year or two. Miss the young people who once respected your opinion (to your face, at least). Investigate part time work at Wal-mart. Be very happy you have a family. Try not to gain weight. Get outdoors more. Finally, assemble a routine from the enjoyable remnants of your once exciting life and stick with it. You will need a familiar pattern to motivate you every morning.

Nobody will ask your advice about anything ever again. And if you give any, it will be snide and pitiful like the words above.

Then I thought well maybe I could be of some minor help. So I did NOT send that answer, and instead came home to think about it and give a better response, based on my seven years of not working. Here’s what I think one should do.

Priorities after Retiring:

  1. Replace the ‘no job, no contribution to society’ feeling
  2. Create your new Routine*
  3. Hobbies, Travel. Make a list of things you want to do
  4. Check your Money, it will affect your options above
  5. Pay attention to your Health and your Sleep, ditto
  6. Every now and then, set a difficult Goal and a Deadline to accomplish it

A Few Other Recommendations:

Create Time for exploring new things

Appreciate your Family and Friends

Fun, Excitement is helpful if it applies to your personality

Ignore negative people (get rid of them)

If you have a rocking chair, get rid of it too

This is NOT a get ready for retirement piece, with the how much money to save, investment advice, when and what age, etc. It is simply some advice on how to start over once you HAVE retired.

Notes on what MY response has been to the priorities above (and it has taken me seven years to get to this point!!!)

  1. I have made up a job, a profession. It is going to the gym. Every day, no excuses. Occasionally outdoor exercise is substituted. If I miss, it has to be for a doctor’s appointment, an out-of-town trip or similar. I keep a precise chart of what was accomplished, with color categories, such as ‘spinning’ or ‘weights’ or ‘cardio only’. Makes it easy to see what sort of exercise should be coming up, and hard to omit the ‘unpopular’ exercises, such as leg work.
  2. My routine is get up at 6:30, do a few sit-ups, push-ups and no-weight squats. Eat ½ container of yogurt, do some household cleaning, etc. Leave before 8:00, get to the coffee shop nearest to my gym and read news until 9:00. Then the gym. Home by 11:00, lunch. Nap then read, work on computer (writing things exactly like this). Sometimes a walk around the neighborhood. TV and computer games usually at night. Bed by 9:30. Shopping and errands always in the AM after gym. There are three 24 Hour Fitness locations here so I rotate to alleviate boredom, and switch coffee shops for the same reason.
  3. Camping (with a group), writing, motorcycling (including working on the mechanicals), skiing, traveling, reading, working around house and in my garage workshop. I keep a calendar with all activities scheduled. All events are highlighted in one of several unique colors, to show if they are scheduled or proposed, etc. Looking over 2015, I can see that there are openings in July and September. Half the year here is winter, so skiing takes over November thru March.
  4. Keep an Excel chart of my total asset value, updated monthly. The graph has a line indicating minimum and target $$. I note large expenses (new motorcycle, upscale trip, etc) to remind me why total may have dipped. (Until Social Security started, my assets were bleeding off at an alarming rate, that’s why I started the chart. Now I feel better about the money thing)
  5. No longer do I put off making a doctor appointment. If something itches in an alarming way, I call. Bi-annual physical. Lots of vitamins are taken daily, worthwhile or not. Cheap insurance, if you ask me. I monitor my sleep electronically, and therefore know when I get up if I’m going to be dragging around all day. If I did good on the sleep score, it’s easier for me to push myself at the gym (probably physiological).
  6. My goal in 2014, for example, was to find a girlfriend. It was evidently much too difficult. In 2015, my effort appears to have paid dividends. I found a good one.

Figuring out that most old men are grouchy and therefore depressing to be around, most of the people I hang out with now are female. Family is spread out so I try to visit everyone more than once a year, also friends, when they will have me. Moderately dangerous things (motorcycling, hiking in the mountains, skiing) give me quite a bit of joy, so I continue along those lines, a bit less intensely than I used to. I do have a rocking chair, but it doesn’t look like one, so I’m keeping it.

* A Plan, a Schedule, a Routine. Whatever you call it, make up your own and use it. It takes 28 days to create a habit, so keep at it until you don’t feel quite right when you miss a day. Be prepared to modify your routine as you age. This is going to save you from ennui.

Your comments are welcome, as always.

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