What is Retirement Really Like?

Are you planning for and dreaming of an early retirement (or any retirement at all)? How do you picture it – what will your day be like?

Do you picture lazy days, sleeping late, shopping, playing golf or sunning on the beach? You might be surprised at what you actually do when you really are retired!

No time for housecleaning.

I retired two and a half years ago and I just can’t find the time anymore to even clean the house! Before I retired, I listed out a few goals – such as starting an online business, finding some rental real estate or starting some kind of franchise. To me, retiring meant being able to pursue new interests, new activities and new dreams.

Retirement is YOUR time.

I looked at retirement as the start of my time. My time to fulfill long deferred dreams. My time to take some risks for some bigger rewards. My time to do what I wanted to do, not what an employer wanted or needed, not what my kids wanted or needed and not what my spouse wanted or needed me to do.

Entering retirement was just as exciting as my first venture into adulthood – when I left home to live at college. Remember how you felt then? You were exploring for the first time, the world outside your home. You sat up late and debated how the world should be run and you knew, you just knew you would make a wonderful difference and do great things.

Mental preparation for retirement.

Listing out some goals to pursue in retirement helped me envision what my future would look like and served as a way to transition from the full time 9 to 6 grind to being on my own.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was following a Wells Fargo suggestion that you should start mentally preparing for retirement several years before you plan to do so. They suggest writing down everything, big and small, that you want to do in retirement, creating a huge to do list that you start working on day one of retirement.

To begin this vision of my future, I started taking a Fast Track New Venture class before leaving my job. It continued into the first month of retirement. During that first month, I spent time setting up that online business and learning all of the new stuff needed to do so. Later, I began writing for the online site – now Family Money Values and still later developed other of my own sites (Aging Bodies and Family Executor) and wrote for several other site owners, filling my life long dream of becoming a published writer.

Retirement living is not just the absence of a job.

Retirement living is not so much the absence of a day to day job, but more the presence of opportunities to define yourself differently.

Yes, I was a project manager, but that is not all I am or will be. Retirement is not the end of the journey, but rather the beginning. It is a time to try new things, see new places, be someone just a tad different than the loving mother, wife or employee you have been for years. Becoming a writer was one opportunity I definitely wanted!

It’s a time to re-examine those wishes you had as a teen or young adult – before you got married, had kids, started a career and made a home.

Now is the time to look ahead to your death day and wonder what you will have wished you had done or been. Now is the time to make your own mark on the world. A mark made by you, not one you influenced through your children or husband or job. It’s a time to express your own individuality, find your own purpose and make your own difference as a lasting legacy to those who come after.

So, really, what is a day in retirement?

It’s different for each of us, of course, depending on our hopes and dreams. For me, for now, it looks something like this:

I wake up with the sun – no alarm clock, no schedule. Hubby and I have coffee together – or sometimes I sit on the porch. Each morning I exercise for about an hour – because I want to be active until I die and exercise will help me do that. My day is filled with research activities, writing content, marketing my sites, learning about new products and services and planning for future activities. On the board for this year and next are goals for the business, such as writing that electronic book, getting posts published by several major sites, building a larger opt in subscription list and more.

Part of my day is spent planning grandchildren activities and travel activities. This past year, for instance, I spent a week on Tablerock Lake at our condo with my 80ish year old aunt and my cousin; I planned and we executed an extended family vacation (kids, their spouses and grandkids) to Yellowstone to help celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary; I prepared for and held my annual Grandma Rie’s Money Camp for my two grand-kids – to teach them personal finance concepts – another week at the condo – one that involved quite a bit of pool time as well; and I also spent a week in Colorado, at the Financial bloggers conference (FinCon12) with a side trip to Colorado Springs.

Later this year, I am hosting a family reunion at a local park and will be planning next years activities.

In between, I managed to squeeze in two home projects (painting several rooms and maintaining our brick walkway); portfolio management time; a blog conversion from Blogger to WordPress and of course writing 4 – 5 posts a week.

There are multiple legacy projects I have yet to undertake – such as scanning in the old family pictures and converting the 8mm movies to digital. There are many more places I want to visit. I haven’t even figured out yet what kind of volunteer work I want to do – but hope to start at a local living history park. I also want to offer a community class at the local high school some day. Sharing what I know is another way I want to make a difference in the world.

If you think this sounds busy, it seems to be pretty typical. Check out some of the posts in the Bike Forums talking about what retirement is like. Take a look at Being Retired as well for even more perspective!

My Yakezie buddy, Joe Udo over at Retire by 40, wrote this post for U.S. News “What Does Retirement Really Look Like?”  and I wrote one for Free Money Finance called “Five Retirement Surprises” .

Retirement is great, but I really don’t think of myself as retired. It’s more like I’m re-purposed!

What do you plan to do when you are re-purposed?  

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