Retirement means change, and the one change that has the most potential to unbalance people is the sudden glut of available leisure time. While focusing on financial goals, travel plans and the anticipation of leaving the office behind, many pre-retirees fail to consider how they will fill their time on a daily basis. A recent USA Today article, “Before you retire make a leisure plan with purpose” (July 2016), addressed the issue and offered the following planning suggestions:

  • Make a plan before you retire. Have an idea about how you will spend your days in retirement before your last day of work. Numerous retiree studies tell us that having no schedule leaves most people feeling unfulfilled and aimless.
  • Be flexible and allow for change. Your initial plan may suit you for the first few months or years, but may no longer work for you after a while. You don’t have to rigidly stick to the same plan for the rest of your life—it’s your retirement, so you can make whatever changes make sense for your lifestyle.
  • Make your transition as smooth as possible. For many people, to simply stop working cold turkey is too abrupt, especially for those who derive their identity from their profession. Consider phasing into retirement by going from full to part-time hours, and/or switching to consulting.

 

So exactly how does one go about managing his or her time after spending decades planning life around a work schedule? Retirement blog Things could be worse, written by former college professor Dr. Rin Porter, includes both expert insights and personal stories from retirees who have learned how to satisfactorily manage their time. A 2015 article titled “You Can Structure Time in Retirement Successfully” found these tips to be the most universally recommended:

  • Establish rituals. Have a set time to wake up, plan regular meal times and schedule other activities, like housework and errands.
  • Socialize. Make lunch dates with still-working colleagues who you also consider friends. Join clubs or become more involved in volunteer work you enjoy. Make interacting with family and friends a scheduling priority.
    • Make new friends. Being involved in the activities you didn’t have time for while working full time will allow you to make new friends who share your interests.
    • Give your partner space. You will also have more time with your partner than ever before; make sure to plan some time away from each other.
  • Exercise your body and mind. Continue to be both physically and mentally active to ensure you remain healthy enough to fully enjoy your retirement. Arrange a standing walking, jogging or bike riding date with friends. Go back to school to learn something new and challenge yourself.

 

Just as there is no one-size-fits-all financial approach to retirement, there is no one way for everyone to manage his or her time. As you get closer to winding down your work life, be sure to take the time to visualize how you want your life to look, down to the daily details. Your future retired self will thank you.

 

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