The Seven Days of Retirement: Is It Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

The Seven Days of Retirement: Is It Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

February 22, 2018—Having recently retired at the ripe old age of 62 and having given it (I felt) considerable thought and prayerful preparation, I thought that some feedback on the “before and after” would be of interest to those contemplating the big step, as well as those who are already well-entrenched in retirement.

During the working years that I was planning my exit date from the workplace, I heard people who were really fearing retirement, others who had retired and said they didn’t know how they’d ever found time to work, and others who had been retired for 6 months and had to come back to work for something to do (because “every blade of grass was pointing in the right direction in their yard and every shingle was securely nailed down on the roof”).

Here I was, excited about retirement, even though I owned my own business and had thoroughly enjoyed the work I pursued. For me, there was a new life to go chase and make the most of my remaining years, however many that might be. So, I was concerned about those folks who were fearing retirement. I wondered about those who had retired and then returned to working, was life really going to be that empty when I retired and would I find myself in the same position? I pondered these scenarios and strived to find a means to make retirement something to look forward to, rather than to be feared, and fulfilling, so that it did not necessitate returning to the workplace.

Considering all these interesting comments led me to visualize, “The Seven Days of Retirement.” Maybe it was not coincidence that there were seven major headings that I felt would create a complete and fulfilling use of time in retirement and replace the traditional days of the week:

Keep Physically Fit. For some of us, retiring might generate more natural exercise than our sedentary job. Whatever the case, striving for those magic “10,000 steps per day” could become a realistic goal. Another low impact activity is yoga. I am also enjoying playing more golf and more tennis than I did when I worked. I’m not an expert or serious about these sports, but just enjoy them for the switch of mental concentration, as well as the physical benefit. And, totally unrelated, I seem to have lost several pounds without trying!

Keep Mentally Fit. No matter what our prior work was, staying mentally fit in retirement is clearly a good goal. Just like exercising the body, exercising the mind is valuable and only helps to stave off dementia. There are differences of opinion as to what is “good for you”. The message is to find things that interest you or fulfill you, things that are mentally engaging.

Volunteer. If you have had a good working life and maybe feel fortunate/blessed by what life has dealt you so far, why not help to pass it on, or back, by helping others. Find something that motivates you, fulfills you, and that you enjoy doing.

Spouse/loved ones. If you’re married, make a special time for each other. Do something simple, like going to a local town or village that you’ve not visited, having coffee or lunch, or going to a movie together or… the list is endless. If you are not married, or no longer married, do something with your children, grandchildren or a special friend. You’ll all get some quality time together and have an enjoyable day that creates memories, and, most importantly, you won’t be guilt-ridden in the future when those special people, or you, are no longer around to enjoy times together.

Hobbies/Interests. Many people don’t get to pursue their hobbies or interests when working full-time. No hobbies? Then dream about what you’d like to do if only you had the time. There must be something that captures your curiosity.

Jobs/House. All of us have a “honey do” list or a list of projects that we would like to tackle if only there were more time than a weekend in which to do them. Now, in retirement, one has that opportunity to take on a project that might need a week or two to complete. Just make sure that you spend some time doing the long-postponed projects while you have the mental and physical desire.

God, Faith, Spirituality . . . we will need all three as we age. Spend some time contemplating how the rest of your life will play out and how you can make the best of the things you can control. Our life is a journey, and it’s good to look ahead and see what’s coming so that we can be ready to address each thing as it arrives.

My sense is that if we take, “The Seven Days of Retirement,” model and scramble it into a “school timetable” type of week, then we will cover all the bases and accomplish things that are good for us, our families and the Earth as a whole. You will find that many of the categories are overlapping. So, ask yourselves, what does God want from me now that I have retired? Having reached an exciting “fork in the road,” where working for a paycheck is no longer a necessity, what are you going to make of the rest of your life? Start by renaming the seven days of the week and take it from there.

Edited from an article By Chris Pomfret, POAMN Vice-President

The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministries Network have formed a partnership that will better equip congregations and faith-based organizations to address the needs of older participants. The program is open to participants from any denomination or faith tradition. Learn more about our Older Adult Ministry certificate HERE.

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