Saturday, June 16, 2012

Structuring Retirement

I’m working now, but as the site address suggests, I’m a retiree-wannabe.   I had hoped to make the leap last year, but it didn’t happen.   This year I’m hoping it will.  

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with all that free time I’ll have.   (Those of you who have already retired can quit laughing now.)   My friends who are already retired tell me they are busier than ever---many don’t know how they ever found time to work.   And while most of them are doing what they wanted to do, a few have just fallen into things.  So I want to make sure I end up doing what I really want to do.

To that end I’ve been making a list of all the things I want to do or am interested in checking out.  A type of bucket list.  I know I won’t have time to do everything, and I want to make sure I end up doing what is really important to me.   This way, if something comes up that isn’t on my list, it will be easier to say ‘no’.   In the past I’ve ended up working on projects or committees that involved things that didn’t really interest me.    But for one reason or another I agreed to take on the project when I was asked.   This time around I want to have a plan, a structure, for my time.

At the top of my list is writing.   I have an unfinished novel and another one in the idea stage.  Not to mention this blog, and another blog idea that I’m considering.   Getting the novel completely written is priority numero uno, even if it never gets published.  I’ll probably continue writing a blog, too, either this one or something different.

I’d also like to return to taking Spanish lessons.  I had to quit last year when things got totally crazy and out of control at work.    I want to keep mentally sharp, and studying a language will help with that.  Plus I love Mexico and would like to take trips there more often.

I know I have to schedule in some exercise time.  If not, I’ll start to write or read and never break a sweat all day.   Except for walking and splashing about in the pool, exercising isn’t something I enjoy.   There’s no excuse not to do it.  Sun City Grand has two activity centers with classes in aerobics, dance, yoga, and lots more.  So another goal is to find a physical activity I like, sign up, and show up. 

My need for structure was never more clear than yesterday, when I had an afternoon “free”.    I had thought about going to a new bead shop, my latest hobby interest, or attending a beading session here at Sun City Grand.   I looked at the info for two bead stores that give lessons, and I stopped in briefly at the beading group.  But I never took a class or strung a bead all day.  

I cleaned the casita.    On my “free” afternoon!     It needed it, but cleaning wasn’t my plan when I started the day.    The problem, of course, was that I didn’t have a plan for the day.    

Writer Aimee Bender found she needed structure in order to write consistently.   She wrote about it in her article “A Contract of One’s Own”, published in this month’s O, the Oprah Magazine.  Years ago she started writing in a closet for two hours, and has continued the two hour routine long after leaving that closet.  “If left to my own devices,” she writes, “a blank page and a free day and that meadow, little will get done and I’ll feel awful about it.  But put me in a box for two set hours and say go?  It is one of the most steadying elements of my life.”   

That’s the way I feel about my retirement time.   I’ll need a plan, a structure, so that the things that are important to me get done.  I’m working on the list now.   Then I plan to prioritize it and figure out how many things I can fit into a day or a week.
  If anyone else has approached retirement this way, I’d like to hear how it’s working out.    

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