During our working years, we tend to idealize retirement. We think it will be like we have one foot in heaven’s gate, and the days will be filled with nothing but pleasure. Well, sure, you should enjoy your retirement and make it a happy time in life, but as we know, life isn’t always easy, and retirement is just one more phase. You’re still living, and the days are still 24 hours long, and you’re required to live actively within them. Here are some misconceptions people believe about retired life, and why everyone should plan to have a meaningful life during their senior years.
Work is Bad
Those PTO reports are dull, and no one wants to sit in yet another meeting just to meet and never get anything done. Long commutes, long hours, and the weight of daily stress are just some of the things we all look forward to shedding in retirement. But there are some really beneficial aspects of work that you’ll be leaving behind. Even if you don’t like to meet, the social aspect of work is great for your mental wellbeing. It also adds a sense of purpose, keeps your brain sharp since you think all day long, and you move around more than you’re probably aware. There’s a structure to your day when you work, and you get a whole lot more done when you have a concrete routine. Having a job means having a daily purpose, a routine, and thought-provoking engagement, all of which retired people need.
You Earn Your Age
Sure, it’s a good idea to slow it down in retirement, but this is because we are physically slower. That doesn’t mean you ought to sit around eating bonbons watching Oprah reruns all day. Okay, you can do that for an hour, but your day is still valuable. Just like you don’t earn high school, you don’t earn retirement. You live in it. There’s a difference. The attitude that retirement is vacation isn’t a good one – this is actually a really good way to become less mobile, less social, less active, less engaged, all leading to a slower mind and more physical issues. You didn’t earn any of that, did you? The thing is, you still have to live like a reasonable human being. Embrace life, don’t be lazy and don’t withdraw.
A Full Life is a Healthy Life
So, you plan to do everything you possibly can each and every day, those bon bons and Oprah are not for you. Well, slow it down. The days need to be of quality, not full of nonsense. The other extreme attitude of retirement is that each day needs to be lived to the maximum, if there’s a free hour, fill it. The answer to everything is yes. The people who fall into this trap tend to be the former workaholics who don’t know what to do with themselves.
Finding a way to become useful and thoughtful will satisfy the needs of the ex-worker, and fill many of the holes that leaving your career life drilled into your day. Volunteer for an organization you care about, get on a committee, get a pet, take up an activity, do something that gives your day joy, meaning, purpose, and social engagement. Then, exercise the power of no. Only do things that are worthwhile to you. If you hate brunch, say no, but if you love the beach, say yes to a walk. Build a life that you love where you can contribute and take away from, too. Retirement is just a new period, not a lazy, self-indulgent, stressful phase. Live it well.