An Abbreviated Tale of a Happy Retiree

woman standing on stony shore
Photo from by Matt Hardy

Just the thought of retiring can send an individual into a tailspin. Questions about money, fears about boredom, lack of confidence, loss of identity, are just a few swirling issues a person encounters when considering ending their current work situation. Facing retirement is like standing on a stony shore with nothing but the sky and water meeting at the horizon — no rescue boat, no “tips for the happy retiree” message in a bottle.

This year, I made the decision to retire early. I thought I’d retire one or two years out, still too early to go on Medicare, but you know…. I never could see myself hanging on ’til age 65. No way.

I love to work, don’t get me wrong. Since retiring this fall, I’ve completed the first draft of my first novel, attended writing webinars, participated in several amazing writing communities. No grass growing under these feet…. to say the least. More on that down below.

When I decided to leave my full-time job as a college administrator, I asked some friends (okay, full disclosure, they’re my wine group, we’re wine-o’s) about how to be a successful retiree. I received quite interesting and some conflicting advice.

Retirement advice from friends

-Keep a calendar (so you don’t forget what day it is) — It happened.
-Live in the moment, don’t think ahead
-Stay outta ya kids’ business
-Get up early and start your day
-Don’t get up if you don’t want to
-Don’t be anxious about it — let go of any retirement worries for six months
-Just be, breathe, enjoy being in the moment — ahh, the freedom
-You’ll figure it out
-You don’t have to figure it out
-One day you may have only a doctor’s appointment — that’s your whole day!

We must write our own script for this time of life. Everyone’s different and it is ALL good. Some people retire from something. Others, like me, retire to something. I’ve retired to a writing life.

Sometimes, too, women sell themselves short. The friend who said that a doctor’s appointment may be your entire day sounds like a slacker, but she has taken up kayaking and pulled me into a local hiking club. Now, there’s something I hadn’t put in my little planner!

Hiking Photos of Ragged Mountain Reservoir Trail, Charlottesville Virginia
Hiking Photos by Author: Ragged Mountain Reservoir Trail, Charlottesville Virginia

The productive life

So, yes, I do have a planner. I’ve always been a list maker, but only a marginally devoted goal setter. Now, I use a Clever Fox journal that allows me to set annual, quarterly, and monthly goals. My weekly plans help me achieve those in a step by step fashion (or not). I now have time to use stickers and make my goals and plans look fun or pretty. #winning

Even though I am using a standardized planning book, I still have lots of flexibility on how I use each of the features and I don’t feel boxed in, so to speak. If I didn’t want to achieve any goals in retirement, I wouldn’t create my lists and plans.

Like most humans (I think), the more free time I have, the more time I waste. Productivity is important to me in this phase of my retirement journey.

Here are a few things I’ve accomplished in recent months:
-Amped up my writing learning journey
-Set up a home office
-Completed a first novel draft
-Created a monthly newsletter
-Started writing in new forms, like microfiction
-Converted my Pinterest and Instagram accounts to an author focus
-Cleaned out two closets (yay!)
-Started listing old books for sale on eBay
-Began a more rigorous exercise routine
-Joined the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club
-Finished a series on Netflix I couldn’t get through when I was working
-Tried some new wines.

And, I’ve been up to so much more to keep me busy. I have remained true to myself and that’s why I’m happy. (To be candid, being in the honeymoon phase of retirement could have something to do with it too.)

Note: the Clever Fox link above goes to the home page; it is not an affiliate link.

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