I was out walking along the coast in Fife yesterday with one of my sons and my sister in law. I realised that I was not sure what day it was. One of the benefits of retirement is that I can do anything on any day. No longer do I need to wait till the weekend to go for a long walk, or go shopping, or fix the crack in the bathroom tiling, or visit my new great nephew for a cuddle, all of which I did yesterday. Rather I have the flexibility to avoid crowds and do what I want when I want.
But the downside can be that every day is like another. I chatted to my sister in law, who has been retired for seven years. She deliberately builds routine into her weeks to help provide some structure. She eats fish on a Friday. She cooks a roast Sunday lunch. She tries to make Friday evening as relaxing as it was when she was working. Maybe I should do the same. But I am in that honeymoon period of retirement when the freedom to do anything on any day feels simply wonderful.
I know when people say “they have no idea what day it is” they often mean that the person is losing it. Sadly, my father has advanced Alzheimer’s dementia and really does not understand the world any more. And I am wary of the naysayers in my old work, who told me not to retire because my brain would turn to mush. And I am aware that even though my life now has few meetings and appointments, I recently missed a meeting with my financial adviser, not because I was too busy, but because I was not busy enough. But it honestly feels great to wake up in a morning and know that today I can do pretty much anything I want.
Especially now lockdown is easing in the UK, those freedoms are widening. On Sunday I head down to England for some narrowboat training. I had better not miss the course because I forget what day it is!
What about you? If you are retired do you always remember the day? If you are working, do you long to be freed from the constraints of routine?
After last week’s moan about missing people at work, and the things I had planned for my retirement that have been postponed due to COVID, I have been reflecting on what is really good about being retired. It is not a bad list.
I am more healthy. My blood pressure is down, I have lost a little weight, and I am getting out to walk most days during the week as well as at weekends.
I get to read. My old work colleagues used to complain because I have always found time for self development books and I would bore them with insights from them. But now I also get to read more lightweight books. I am currently half way through Robert Harris’ “Archangel” and Richard Clubley’s “Orkney – A Special Place”.
I am no longer “always on”. For at the past 30-40 years I have been on call for incidents or issues. It feels like a weight has been taken off my back.
I get to do jobs around the house. This week I oiled my wooden floors, waxed my furniture and replaced a security light. These kind of jobs used to hang around for months because I never had the time.
I gain new skills. I have mentioned previously about learning the euphonium. My playing is apparently not quite as awful as it was a few weeks ago. I have also been trying to learn basic electrics to help with our narrowboat.
Sleep is better. I no longer wake in the middle of the night worrying about some work issue, and remarkably for me I have started getting up around 7am instead of 5am.
I can be spontaneous. OK, lockdown is not helping here. But I can change my plans at any point. I am writing this blog first thing in the morning with many options for today and no fixed plan. I never thought I would like that but it is great.
There were things at work I always hated, such as performance reviews. I can’t tell you how good it feels that I will never have to do them again.
I have more time with my wife, Mandy. We are really loving doing things together, from playing cards to watching great films.
I am my own master. Instead of half my life being driven by a diary of meetings and deadlines for others, everything I do is my choice. It feels great!
I have often felt that writing a blog is self motivating, and this one has certainly reminded me why I made the call to leave work this year. I am very lucky to have had this choice.
What about you? If you are working, what would you love to change? If you are retired what are the best things for you?