Monday, February 23, 2015

What to Look Forward to Most in Retirement

By Dave Bernard | U.S.News & World Report – Thu, Feb 19, 2015 

If we prepare well and have a little luck, most of us will one day retire. What that retirement will look like is up to our individual passions, plans and how we choose to spend our hard-earned free time. Although we may differ in specifics, all of us want to enjoy and make the most of our second act. The difficult part is getting there. Unfortunately, none of us are guaranteed our time in the sun. The good news is that many before us have successfully navigated the journey. It can be done. Consider all thesaving and scrimping, planning and stress as the dues we must pay upfront. But once we make it (finally), there is much to look forward to.
Learn about yourself. While we're part of the working world, daily responsibilities have a way of dominating our waking hours. Most people don't have much spare time to imagine what may be or get too introspective. We have a job to do. But once you retire, you will find yourself with more free time to spend as you see fit. While a career has you speeding through the days and years, retirement happens at a slower, and hopefully saner, pace. Living at this slower pace just might teach you things about yourself you never knew. Free from distraction, you can examine more closely what really matters to you. Able to do as you please, you can dedicate time to those things that really light your fire. And you can spend as much or little time as you want in particular pursuits. Living at a pace that best suits your nature can help you get the most out of the moments.
Looking back at your life to now, you may be satisfied with how the years have gone. The good you did along the way, successes achieved and memorable moments may combine to leave you with a warm feeling of contentment. Or perhaps you find you are left feeling incomplete, that you have not yet reached your potential. Whatever your status, retirement can be a time to dig deeper to better understand not only who you are but who you might want to be. Now that you are running the show, how would you like to proceed? There are no rules or restrictions. Every day can bring something new. One reader of my blog has come to realize she can do what she wants regardless of what anyone else might have to say. My present lifestyle is developing with very little in the way of "should or should not" and very much in the way of "why not?" I think it is reasonable to expect that as you live retirement, you just might learn more about yourself than you have at any prior time.
Control your day. Too many of us are stuck living a life dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of those other than ourselves. Far too often, what we have to do supersedes what we want to do. When you retire, get ready to take over the controls and fly a course laid out personally by you. Imagine a yearly calendar of dates filled in with only things you actually want to do. Picture the freedom to do what you want for as long as you want. Get ready to enjoy the ability to change directions or interests whenever you feel. What could be better?
When I first retired, I was pleasantly surprised by the unfamiliar feeling of being in control of my daily life. I was able to slow things down to a more reasonable pace. The blur that had been my previous life was no more. These days, for the most part, life happens as fast or as slow as I dictate.

Broaden your interests. While engaged in my career, I honed a set of skills that made me good at what I did. Now that I am retired, those skills do not necessarily fit into or compliment my lifestyle. But that is OK. I am free to pursue those other interests that have lain dormant. Instead of reading tedious industry news, I can study historical events or learn about geography, photography, calligraphy or whatever I want. I am trying new things, from cooking to gardening to learning French. Reading one book stirs up an interest in another, and so I chase that down to add to the pile. Areas that held no interest in my earlier life are suddenly attracting my attention. Whatever I want to be doing, whatever captures my interest, I am now free to take a shot at. I have been looking forward to this for a long time.