June 12, 2023

Time Waits for No One – and Never Retires

Time Waits for No One – and Never Retires

You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it – “Every day in retirement is Saturday.” It sounds like a dream come true.

Having more free time was certainly a reason I retired, along with another chance to reinvent myself. I’d be free as a bird, shedding old routines and sinking into lots of new interests – maybe even finding my next thing. Like the best Saturdays, the day would take me where it might. I’d stay curious, flexible, adventurous, and ready. And then stop for a cocktail.

As it turned out, another saying – “Be careful what you wish for” – better applies to me. Instead of living free as a bird, my everyday-is-Saturday schedule transformed time into an amorphous blob of randomness.

I felt trapped in a loop of regular necessities and haphazard diversions. Meanwhile, an anxious swirl of ideas without any shape danced in my head.

Perhaps I was frozen with chronic FOMO or a bad case of information overload. But having a Saturday state of mind all the time, one day after another, was mind-numbing. Even a simple question – “What are you doing today?” – produced a rush of panic because I had nothing planned and couldn’t decide what to do. I knew then I had to make a change.

Simple logic made the solution obvious: flip my everyday-is-Saturday malaise on its head. That meant getting back to a Monday-through-Friday mindset.

I wasn’t looking for a clear-cut plan since I didn’t know exactly where I was going. But a new mindset would give me a structure to build on, a steady system of applying myself, taking a break, and resuming – a method with some good old-fashioned discipline.

Besides, it wouldn’t be new at all. A weekly cadence was already deep in my bones — the starting bell of a Monday, the steady beat of mid-week, the Friday sprint and happy dance to the weekend, and then begin again. Gosh, I missed it – I felt calmer just thinking about it.

So, when the next week arrived, I positioned myself at my desk – no distractions, a fresh spiral notebook, and my favorite Pilot Razor Point Ultra Fine Point pen (blue ink, of course) in hand. I listed all the activities and ideas that popped into my head – everything from making Ina’s panzanella salad to hitting the books to understand the process of change. Soon enough, I had a plan for the day, the next, and the week.

Like a steady jog to a checkpoint rather than a race to the finish line, the pressure to discover my next thing was gone. As I deliberately pondered what I wanted to do now, down to the smallest detail, making simple decisions became straightforward, and my momentum grew one modest decision at a time.

Before long, I was making some moves, like signing up for a retirement coaching course — a niche I never knew existed — and a volunteer project for a women’s group I’d recently joined. Rather than insisting on a permanent occupation, I felt free to try them out just because they piqued my interest. They were fun and inspired me – can you imagine that?

Something else happened, too — I learned that sometimes what you’re looking for might need to be created rather than found. (Hmm, isn’t that the definition of invention?)

As I happily shop for the best planners and notebooks, the paradox of how much I need to keep time in retirement isn’t lost on me. Nevertheless, I changed the ticking clock to a steady pulse by counting on one week to lead me to the next. I freed that bird – even more than I’d imagined.

There are lots of myths about retirement, including the one about your relationship with time becoming less important. As for me, maybe I’m just the committed type, but I’m still smitten. My relationship with time has renewed and flourished — a relationship I remain hopelessly devoted to.

I'd appreciate hearing your feedback on my posts. Please send me any comments, including any retirement topics of interest to you, to: mailto:judi@retirementcommentaries.com