Unwinding: An Amateur’s Guide


When first you retire you will not know what to do. You won’t even realize that this could be an issue until it is one, so here is a smallish list of things to consider. These are the ones I am considering. Be aware that I am in no way an expert on being retired yet. These are the ideas of an amateur.

1.  Going someplace beautiful to decompress is a good idea. If it includes the ocean, all the better. The sound of the water, that fresh breeze at the water’ s edge and all that blue are truly a balm to the spirit.  You might have been running on an empty tank for a while, maybe without realizing it. It’s possible that you (or an increasingly worried family member) have found a burner left on all day or maybe a block of nice Welsh Cheddar cheese in the potholder drawer. Or maybe you found the fresh dog food in the silverware drawer. You’re not required to tell your family that you found it there, but you will know. And you might worry a little bit. They will for sure be worried, so take that into consideration when you’re deciding whether or not to tell them about it. The point is, you will definitely need some decompression time.

2.  During your decompression time, treat yourself like a delicate relative who needs special care. Eat healthy food, avoid sugar and drink lots of water. Take naps, read a novel or two, get a massage, take a walk and try to avoid Facebook for a while. It just adds to the mental overload that you’re trying to let go of. Oh, and you should probably avoid reading work emails. THEY NO LONGER APPLY TO YOU. They will just activate your inner critic and his friend, your inner gossip.

3. Make a list of the things you have to figure out now. Supplemental Health insurance, monthly bills, exactly how much money will be coming in are good things to know about. Should you shut down the Cable? If you are prone to mindlessly watching multiple episodes of Hoarders, you might consider closing it down. There are plenty of other things to do with your time. You will have a good idea of all these things, of course, but the exact numbers are what you will need now.

4. How will you spend your time? It will be tempting to tell a lot of people that you are now available, but it might be a good idea to hold off for a while.  You will be so accustomed to your time being completely committed that you can’t imagine what you’ll do with unscheduled time. It’s probably a good idea to give it a chance. You never know what will arise if given a chance. You could read a novel. Read two of them in one week! You have time now, and I bet the stack of books next to your bed is pretty big by now.  You finally have a chance to whittle it down.

5. Once you’ve rested up, go out to the garage and get rid of some stuff. The more the better. Once you’re done out there, you can start on the closets inside. The more air space you create, the lighter you will feel. How much of your stuff are your kids going to want? Really.  Not as much as you hope they will. They will eventually appreciate your having offloaded stuff, and you will enjoy the air. I am sure of this.

6. If you are a blogger, you might want to consider closing down the teaching blog, since you will no longer have anything teachery to write about. But don’t rush this. Give it time and think it through. This is in no way suggesting that you won’t have anything to write about. But it probably won’t pertain to the people who have been so loyally reading it and you don’t want to bore them.

7. The last thing I’m going to suggest is that you get some exercise. Figure out what you like and do it. You may have to try a few things before you get it down, but it’ll be worth it. I like to lift weights, and I’m excited that now I can do it in the morning, before it gets hot. Trying something new like Yoga or swimming are sounding pretty good too.

This is all I think I know about right now. As my expertise in retirement grows, I’ll keep you posted as to how all this is working out. In the meantime, rock on! It’s summer! Time to get out there and practice!


One thought on “Unwinding: An Amateur’s Guide

  1. dkzody says:

    Don’t be in any kind of rush. The days stretch out long and empty. Enjoy that for now. Seven years into this retirement career and I’m still discovering.

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