If you were to ask me the best thing about retirement, the first things out of my mouth would be the ability to throw out the alarm clock, and the ability to act spontaneously. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy so many other things about retirement. I appreciate having the time to give back to others in a big way, to challenge myself mentally, creatively and physically, to do things off season and much much more. But much of my retirement enjoyment streams directly from those first two things.
Sometimes, as we look to become involved in various activities, it can seem as if we are giving that spontaneous lifestyle away, but I would suggest that there can be a happy medium between getting involved, and having that "free as a bird" feeling, and we all need to find our own level.
In my case, I do have quite a few regularly scheduled weekly commitments, with some taking a summer hiatus. On a weekly basis, I take at least one college class. I belong to a knitting group. I volunteer for about three hours each day two mornings a week, and on most Thursday nights I attend a dinner followed by either an educational class or an activity through my church. Not to miss anything, I also have a few "monthly engagements" including two book clubs, two craft groups that meet once a month and my quilt guild.
These are the regularly scheduled things in my life, although life also includes exercising and home improvements and writing and more-those things are just not part of my "regularly scheduled program" if you will.
So how to keep the spontaneity in retirement while being "involved"? Well first, I always keep Fridays free, and unless there is a senior college class that truly floats my boat, I keep Mondays free as well. Thats right, the majority of my scheduled commitments on a weekly and even monthly basis are mainly on three days of the week. And, since I recently committed to no more than two commitments on any day, that certainly limits my involvement, by default. On Tuesday I volunteer in the morning and take a class at nite. On Wednesday I knit and go to happy hour, and on Thursday I volunteer in the morning and have a regular dinner and social at night. And so it goes. I'm looking to add an art class for a short period, and will probably have to settle for whatever day is available.
To be sure, this in no way means that I have nothing to do on these days, rather that I don't regularly schedule long term commitments on these two days unless something really, really catches my eye.
Why live retirement his way? Simple really. This allows me to have two days (and the weekend) where I can do whatever strikes me (or doesn't strike me) in the morning. These are the days that I can: read a book from cover to cover with just a small break, decide at the last minute to take a drive to the mountains, spend the day working on a big art project, simply loll around, call someone to meet me for lunch, have a weekday brunch by myself, or even jump in the car to head out for a four day weekend. In other words, whatever floats my boat. These are also the days that if someone says "do you want to....", I can almost always say yes!
We all have to find our own balance in retirement including between planned and spontaneous activities, and if you are anything like me, those unplanned times vary widely from week to week (and even from day to day). Tomorrow for example, my kinda sorta plan is to do some serious sewing most of the day, uninterrupted. On the other hand, I really want to see the new Captain America, so might decide to run off to the morning movie tomorrow first. Next Friday, who knows?
We all have to find what works for us, but trust me, there is a balance between commitment and freedom in retirement. We just each have to find our own level, and be unafraid to say when we've found it.
And so it goes, this Thursday in retirement.