As busy dedicated professionals think about retirement, many wonder what they will ‘do’ after ‘work’. What will make them feel worthwhile?
Careers are built by focusing on goals, tasks, and rewards. Very often these are not personal goals but corporate goals — accomplishments that society affirms and rewards. You are doing ‘something’ worthwhile.
A few days ago I met with a group of former colleagues. Although most of them are still busy with their careers, several are thinking of retiring in the next two or three years. I was the only person at that gathering who had retired.
The question asked of me most often was “so what are you doing now?”
What I ‘do’ after work
The question “what are you doing now?’ is easy to answer. I spend my time doing the ordinary things that I never had time for before retirement.
I exercise. I cook and eat nutritious food. I sleep enough for good health — 7 or 8 hours per night.
I spend time with my husband. We eat together every day. We do lots of activities together — sometimes mundane errands or trips to the gym; sometimes interesting jaunts like going to a theatre production.
I enjoy the outdoors — even when the weather is nasty. I garden. I spend time relaxing at the cottage and walking on the beaches of Lake Huron.
I play bridge. I volunteer on a couple of boards. I read extensively and belong to two book clubs. I write posts for this blog.
I could go on with this list adding various hobbies, routine household tasks, church activities, occasional travel, and taking adult education courses from time to time.
But, don’t you get bored?
In response, many people indicated that they couldn’t ‘wait’ to have the freedom of retirement. But others were uncomfortable. Follow up questions included ‘don’t you get bored?’
This reply indicated to me that the ordinary things that take up my day would be boring for others.
There are times in life when a bigger ‘purpose’ than just living according to the rhythm of the day is needed. Sometimes people need to do ‘something’ that society deems more worthwhile than enjoying a leisurely postworksavvy lifestyle.
It’s almost three years since I retired. Not once have I ‘missed’ the office. I was emotionally and psychologically ready to retire.
When a search firm called me recently to try to entice me to take on an interim executive position, it took little thought for me to give a gracious refusal.
Just thinking about the commuting, the politics of a business environment, and the never-ending hassles related to getting enough funding to adequately achieve the mission of a not-for-profit organization was enough to remind me of the freedom that retirement brings.
Defining what you ‘do’
Life passes too quickly to hold tightly to the status and successes of a career.
My mind stays busy without going to the office. The days fly. I find more interesting things to do in a day than I often did during the active and stressful times at work.
I no longer define myself by a job title. For some, having no job status means that I have no status as a person — I no longer do ‘something’.
This judgement makes me sad. Is it poorly disguised ageism? Retiring from work does not mean retiring from living. I don’t feel useless.
I get more enjoyment from doing things I love to do every day and not things I have to do. The days fly by.
There is true happiness in retirement when you spend your time doing what you love.
So the next time I’m asked what I ‘do’ after work, I will smile smugly and say that I do only the things I love — and let them guess just what that means.