Retirement Happiness requires time and effort

The great things in life always take time and never come without effort and patience.

A successful retirement journey needs planning, work and periodic adjustments. Retirement happiness won’t happen without some forethought.

Time and Effort Required -- photo courtesy of Sonya Green
Time and Effort Required — photo courtesy of Sonya Green

During the summer while hanging out at the cottage, I thought about how I felt about my retirement  three years ago.  Although I refuse to many specific goals for myself, I had aspirations and it was time to evaluate progress.

I reviewed highlights. There were many accomplishments including establishing this blog and writing regular posts; volunteer board work with two large charities and on church committees; participation in two book clubs plus reading 100 plus books for personal pleasure; and opportunities to play bridge with a group of new friends.

I’ve stretched my mind and body with blogging courses, a photography course, cooking courses, and a course in html. I’ve stretched my body with yoga, swimming and aqua fit.  I’ve joined a group of skilled knitters, met interesting women there, and learned to knit socks.  I’ve revived my interest in other ‘needle’ hobbies and have taught myself enough quilting to make a baby quilt.

In terms of family, I’ve supported my husband as he moved to full time retirement. With our son’s marriage, I’ve become a mother-in-law and, recently welcomed a beautiful grand baby into my life.    I’ve lived through a renovation to the cottage to make it an all-season house.  I’ve done some traveling and enjoyed trips to the US, the Caribbean and to Europe — but always got more enjoyment from coming home to my routines.

There have also been ‘low-lights’.  I started doing tai chi and had to quit because of chronic ankle tendonitis.  I’ve lost contact with many people with whom I associated during my career.

I’ve faced the death of my sister who was the last living member of my family. I still grieve for her as well as for my brother who died a couple of years before I retired. I continue to feel like an orphan although I do stay in contact with extended family who all live far away.

In terms of health, I’ve faced a hip replacement, the resulting rehabilitation, and the challenge of learning to walk again. I’ve also learned that health challenges come regardless of excellent nutrition, regular exercise and good sleep habits.

It’s been three full years of living!

Fortunately I have few concerns. I do, however have one nagging worry.

There is never enough time for all of the projects that I want to accomplish.

Writing a blog post is enjoyable but it requires time and effort. Writing time often gets compromised.

Likewise with entertaining.  I love cooking for brunches, lunches, and dinners but often get frantic just before an event as I dash to the store for last minute shopping and multi-task in the kitchen.

Too often I find myself rushing to accomplish tasks and meet commitments that I have made. When I have to rush, the joy of doing something is gone. My happiness is compromised and I feel pressed for time — just as I did when working.

With celebration of my birthday last week,  a personal new year is beginning. My stock taking tells me that I need to make some changes to stay happy and enhance happiness.

I understand myself well enough to know that I want to feel productive — to get things done. The brain output required for writing regular blog posts keeps my mind sharp, keeps me learning and gives a purpose.

There is fulfillment and a sense of satisfaction from volunteer work but I also need personal productivity.

I also want to have time for doing the fun things without nagging myself about finishing things on the daily ‘to do’ list that includes writing time, exercise time, and time to hang out with my husband, my friends and neighbours.

I know myself well enough to know that I need time to be alone and to ‘re-balance’ my life — a time and place for solitude.  I’ve found this by spending time alone at the cottage and also during the winter when my husband takes his annual junket to Trinidad. I also want guilt-free time for hobbies — reading, knitting, playing the piano, cooking, gardening.

I’m resolving to put myself on a schedule to ensure that the necessary tasks get done without a rush.

Although I love sleeping in and enjoying coffee and the daily news while propped up with pillows in my comfy bed, I’m going to set the alarm and get up earlier to have my coffee while I write and catch up on daily emails.  I’ll get my ‘computer work’ finished before the daily trip to the gym as staying active increases my overall good health which is essential for retirement happiness.

I’ll aim to leave afternoons and evenings free — for socializing; to pursue hobbies; to spend time in my garden; to play the piano, to indulge in solitude; and for volunteer activities.

I won’t be a slave to a schedule but I’m going to give this a try for the next few months and then re-assess to decide whether my productivity increases!

4 Replies to “Retirement Happiness requires time and effort”

  1. Hi Jeanette,

    Thanks for the fantastic blog. I so l LOVED it as I can relate on MANY level. I’m not as ‘highbrow’ as you and Pat ….I’m not on any boards, etc but I do however seem to struggle with my time management and finding the right balance…….. A case in point – I’m at the computer – again!! and it’s getting quite hot out there and my resolve – starting today – was to get the exercise done earlier in the day!!

    Thanks again for your blogs – I always look forward to them.


    1. Hi Janet,
      Boards can mean a big time commitment. This morning I got up at 5:30 am to get the commuter train to a downtown Toronto for an 8 am board meeting. Rushing downtown in pouring rain made me realize again how lucky I am to be finished with the world of work. Because I spent the day in meetings, I’m doing my writing this evening and missing my goof off time — that’s the tradeoff!
      With respect to resolutions, it is difficult to keep resolutions but it always feels so good when you meet your own (usually high) expectations. I find that working on one or two new habits at a time helps to keep me on track. Good luck with the exercise!
      Be well,

  2. It sounds to me like you’ve talked yourself into a circle. After a lifetime of working full out, it’s difficult to come to terms with that frantic need we have to be productive. I’m in the same dilemma of balancing school visits, writing blog posts, managing speaking engagements, selling books, writing books, launching new projects, spending time with family…and on and on…! And while sometimes I say to myself…what am I doing? The alternative seems bleak and not an option for me as long as I can dance as fast as I can and be happy doing it. That’s the key to it all. I say yes to the things I want to do and a big NO to the things I don’t. Be well and keep us posted.

    1. Hi Pat,
      You’ve read me very well! Someone told me that career habits tend to follow us into retirement. During my career I battled over-scheduling and longed for a more fluid approach to time after retirement. While I like my current lifestyle, I feel over-scheduled on many days so that adage may hold true! It sounds like your retirement is also very busy — but fulfilling and happy for you. Staying engaged with life keeps us interested and interesting. stay with your projects and don’t get discouraged when you don’t complete all of them — nobody’s judging you!
      Be well,

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