So many people are waiting for that magic day when responsibilities and stress associated with daily living end and are replaced with freedoms of choice and time to live a CHOSEN LIFESTYLE. Some call this RETIREMENT. Some call this BOREDOM!
RETIREMENT sounds a whole lot better than BOREDOM, but approximately 55% of those who retire begin regretting their decision within the first year. How could “living the easy life” without time restraints and financial concerns create even greater stress and anxiety than pre-retirement living?
I retired two years ago when I was 55 years old. People thought I was making a mistake. They kept repeating, “you’re too young to retire.” What people didn’t realize was I started PLANNING my retirement the day I turned 50.
I am a big believer in using the gifts I was blessed with. Some of these gifts include:
2 good eyes to see with
2 good ears to listen with
1 good brain to analyze with
As a relatively young physician treating patients of varying ages, I had the opportunity to watch, listen and think about their stories and their experiences. I watched many people over the years retire only to become further disenchanted with life. They reached a point where they could “unload” their daily weight of frustration, anger, resentment and anxiety only to realize they were left with NOTHING but TIME.
In my articles on health and balanced lifestyles, I typically include a very important phrase. It’s called a PLAN OF ACTION. This plan often needs tweaking over time, but creates a guideline to help successfully achieve goals. Sometimes, a major overhaul may be required, but the object is to develop a PLAN OF ACTION from an idea to create a path to follow, rather than haphazardly “trying things” hoping and wishing something works. My experience with patients has proven that hoping and wishing doesn’t achieve much success.
So, why doesn’t retirement (for at least 55% of the people) result in “living the easy life?” It is my opinion that retirement isn’t a “LIFE” at all; it is simply a period in time where daily regimentation dictated by life’s responsibilities change. These”patterns of behavior” no longer occupy 8, 10, or even 12 hours a day. Our wish for MORE TIME is finally GRANTED. We now have time for golf and travel; two of the most commonly perceived desires in retirement. These activities, however, do not replace the 8-12 additional hours of TIME we’re now “blessed” with since leaving our jobs. Some choose volunteer work as a solution to this TIME “PROBLEM”. When volunteer work also leaves a large “chunk of time” available, we begin seeking ANYTHING that takes TIME “off the clock.” We begin to realize our need for TIME (which RETIREMENT provides) wasn’t the “missing piece of the puzzle” producing the retirement we envisioned after all. Even worse, ATTITUDES about our over abundance of TIME now begins to cause boredom and resentment!
NOT ONLY DOES RETIREMENT BECOME VIEWED AS AN UNDESIRABLE “LIFE OF LEISURE”, IT ADDS THE BURDEN OF FINDING “THINGS TO DO” TO “REMOVE HOURS FROM THE CLOCK!”
This certainly doesn’t sound like an appealing way to spend one’s “GOLDEN YEARS“!!
Fortunately, this is NOT the ultimate path we necessarily face. There are alternative approaches that can bring great joy, happiness and fulfillment to our lives, but, (believe it or not) it requires:
(That word we FALSELY assumed retirement replaced!)
At age 50, I began formulating a PLAN OF ACTION by creating a “FILL IN THE BLANK” questionnaire that included the following:
what are MEANINGFUL activities to me?
do these activities satisfy a meaningful PURPOSE (even if the purpose is simply fun?)
do (at least) one or more of these activities satisfy a personal PASSION?
if my physical or mental life altered, would I be able to adapt and continue to ENJOY my life? HOW? What RESOURCES would I turn to for assistance?
By creating a PLAN OF ACTION prior to committing oneself to MAJOR lifestyle changes, the transition becomes easier and reduces the FEAR and STRESS of UNKNOWN CHANGE!
Many people live an entire life without answering the FOUR questions listed above. Their lives have been so regimented for so many years, RETIREMENT comes and produces desired TIME without providing the qualitative SUBSTANCE used to fill this time to satisfy LONG TERM PERSONAL HUMAN NEEDS!
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT!
Regardless of age, consider the 4 questions above to see if you have answers that satisfy your personal needs. Creating a PLAN OF ACTION has given me a REAL OPPORTUNITY to look forward EVERY MORNING to getting out of bed (reasonably early) EXCITED to begin my day. I hope this post gives each of you a chance to self reflect and determine if you’re heading in the right direction; a direction that will provide you the kind of joy and happiness in life you seek.
“LIVING THE EASY LIFE” requires DEDICATION and WORK! The big difference is, it’s work you CHOOSE to undertake! Retirement also provides a chance to realize and appreciate just how fortunate we are to experience the TRUE BLESSINGS of LIFE!