The Newly Retiring: Five Steps to Help You Avoid Retirement Ruts

October 13, 2010

By Nancy Bennett

Retirement Rut“Why is it,” a female friend of mine whispered,”that ever since he’s retired, I can’t cook?”

We have listened to the third message shouted from the sundeck during the BBQ. The first was on the consistency of a egg and lemon sauce for the fish, the second on the amount of garlic for the garlic buns and the last one, the amount of boiling time for the tea. Not that she can’t make tea, she has been doing it for well over 50 years.

Since my friend’s husband has retired, he has become fixated with the way things should be done. She doesn’t mind his help, but somehow he is stepping on toes. He doesn’t volunteer to actually cook a meal or two (which would be appreciated) but likes to give helpful advice from the sidelines. Unfortunately it happens, simply because people don’t know how to retire.

When my own parents retired, they were full of excitement of things they would do. Father had planned it all out and managed to retire at 60 through some clever wrangling of finances. Now they had money and time. But the plan to relax and have fun began to unravel in the first month.I realized that mom looked tired, more agitated. On a rare trip to town on her own she confided in me that he was still “on mill schedule.”

Coffee break was at 10:30, lunch at noon, tea at 3:00, supper no later than 5:30. His working breaks had become his home breaks and there was no room for error. Mom, who used to rise round 10 am, now was getting up at 7:30 am to have his breakfast ready for 8. She wasn’t running a home, she was running a canteen. She said “He might be retired, but I’ve got a whole new job!”

For those who work from home it’s a different ball game. Take Peter and Daphne for example. This year he quit his outside work of refurbishing cars and tackled what he called retirement.

Peter said, “I’m still trying (but not all that hard) to convince myself that I’m retired because really nothing has changed, I get up at the same time, I get my own breakfast— it’s always been that way, I’m not just talking about married life, it goes back to whenever. Lunch is midday– more or less, dinner is somewhere about five thirty—- more or less, but it is negotiable.”

“I have been self employed for so long that life evolved to a much different pattern long ago, we switch jobs as required. As we still run the Bed and Breakfast, I’m available to do bathrooms, fix whatever needs fixing or serve coffee and tea to the newly arrived guests. So you see in some ways I’ve been retired for years, in others it won’t happen for just as long..”

As for Daphne she wishes sometimes that Peter would learn to relax and actually try to slow down in his retiring years. But like many men of his age, he finds it hard to do so. He also finds it hard to say no when someone asks his help and so his time is still not his own. How does one achieve the right balance?

5 Tips To Avoid a Retirement Rut

1. Plan Your Retirement in Advance

Make a list of what you want to do. Places you want to visit and hobbies you want to develop. Do this a few years before retirement and keep adding to it as you go along. Spend time reading up and plan what you will need.

2. Vary Your Routine

Routines are comfortable. Routines are comforting but routines can also be boring. Alter the work schedule now and again. Have brunch instead of breakfast, after first taking a morning walk. Discover high tea( the British equivalent of a meal) and skip your noon feeding in preparation for it. Don’t be bogged down by time, in fact, try living without a watch for one week and follow your own schedule.

3. Interests to Share and Some to Compare

Hobbies are great to share with a mate. My husband and myself share a love for birdwatching and walks in the forest. But he also loves to drive his sports car in slalom courses with his car club. I on the other love to sew period clothing and dabble at antique shows. Having different things to do gives us new things to talk about. Encourage your partner to share a hobby with you, but also recognize the need for each of you to have your own passions.

4. Volunteer but Hold Back Dear

It Is always great to share with others and support the causes that are special to us. But its also very easy for folks to take advantage of you cause “now you’re retired you have lots of time, right?” Wrong. Practice saying no, beginning now. The more often you say no from the start the less you will be pressured to give up “your time.” and it is your time. You earned it by working all those years!

Volunteering is a wonderful way to spend some of that time. So first make a list of things you would like to share in, how many hours you would like to put in it on a monthly basis and stick to it. If you add another volunteer job, give one of the others up.

5. Old Friends and New

Now is the time to renew old acquaintances. Looking into your family tree is one great way to start. Genealogy is one of the most interesting ways to retouch with old cousins, aunts, etc. I began to trace my family name over a year ago and now have two second cousins in Canada, one in England and another “possible” in Australia. We exchange photos and family information as well as some great stories from each other’s past.

If this is not your cup of tea, think about looking up old friends, old classmates or even making new friends. When you go for a hobby or a course invest some time in getting to know the folks around you. Too shy? Pen pals are a great way to start and to meet people from around the world. Learn to work on computer skills and become an on line mail pal by joining a special interest group in a chat room. Discover new cultures, exchange recipes and try some different foods.

Above all aspire to, don’t retire from, living your life to its fullest.

About the Author: Nancy V Bennett divides her time between her farm ( Three Sisters Farm) on Vancouver Island and writing articles on a wide variety of subjects. Her work has appeared in over 400 publications, including Dogs In Canada, HR Luxury Magazine and Reunions Magazine. She is an avid heirloom gardener and promoter of saving and sharing seeds, especially rare and endangered tomato and sweet pea varieties.

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  • Guy

    My retirement : My turn

    My terms

    My turf

    That way you enjoy what you want .

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