What I Look Forward to Most in Retirement

In this next chapter, I plan to nurture creativity and focus on health and relationships.

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Getty ImagesSavor the freedom of retirement by managing your own days.
By Dave Bernard

As someone on the cusp of retirement, I occasionally pause to picture life ahead when I will take my first steps toward senior citizen status. After surviving the working world and being fortunate enough to set aside what I hope is a sufficient nest egg to fund retirement, I have big hopes for the next 20 years. There are so many things I enjoy doing, and retirement is by definition the perfect opportunity to pursue my interests and feed my passions.

A reader of my retirement blog has an excellent perspective: "I'm retired (and, yes, past the honeymoon period) and I'm loving it! Each day opens up new possibilities. I find myself becoming more able to insist on things I want, rather than satisfying other's expectations. I don't necessarily need excitement, just newness. Don't do the same old stuff you always did! Try something new each day."

Where should I start? I feel like a kid in a candy shop with so many options that it is almost overwhelming -- but in a good way. Since I am in control of my days, I plan to revel in the freedom to try a little of this and taste some of that, ever sampling and experimenting with new things. As I think about what excites me most about beginning this next chapter, I am looking forward to the following:

No longer on the clock. After a career spent with every minute of every day tightly scheduled and carefully planned, I appreciate the virtues of a blank calendar. I dreamily imagine starting my day with nothing that I must do. It is invigorating to realize I need not worry about being late to the next engagement, but rather I am free to savor the moment. The only clock I have to adhere to is the one I manage.

Picture this: You start a project that keeps you entertained for a while. Then, even though not yet finished, you change course and start something entirely different. In retirement, you can do just that. No more deadlines, no rules or regulations from on high, no more last-minute fire drills. You control how you spend the hours in your day. You are off the clock and how sweet it is.

Freedom to choose. How I spend my retired day will be entirely up to me. It is hard to fathom this incredible freedom of choice. There may be days when I am high-energy and want to get out there and rock the world. On the other hand, there may be days when I am happy sipping my java seated in the backyard with a good book in hand. What I choose to do is solely up to me and not dictated by others. I am free to change my mind as often as I like. I am the decider, and that freedom of choice is something I plan to savor.

Time to nurture the creative me. Although I do not consider myself a particularly artistic person, I do have interests that allow for creative expression. I love writing.
Blogging and books are excellent vehicles to put into words my feelings and thoughts. And the fact that some people might enjoy and even benefit from my efforts is pretty cool. When I was a youngster, I took a good many years of piano lessons. As is often the case, I did little to sustain my skills through teen years and raising a family. But now that I have the time, I love to sidle up to the piano and jingle the old keys. Many retirees have a creative side that may have been smothered during a demanding career. The good news is retirement can be the perfect time to rejuvenate your artistic side and express yourself through whatever means you find most rewarding.

Refocus on good health. While we are stuck on the job, perhaps traveling too frequently and typically maintaining a hectic pace, it can be difficult to sustain healthy habits. When it comes to diet and exercise, too often the lifestyle we are forced to live doesn't remotely resemble how we should be living. Since this state of affairs is largely due to lack of time, retirement can be just what the doctor ordered -- literally. Instead of being forced to squeeze in a quick workout in a limited time slot, you can exercise when you feel like it. With the luxury to take all the time you want, your options become more interesting. You also have time to prepare better, more nutritious meals rather than succumb to fast food.

Revisit my relationship with my wife. We have been together for years, and during that time have become best friends. The demands of family and job have sometimes come between us, but only for a moment. We find strength and love and fun in the time we spend together. Once we both retire, we will have more quality time to share. I look forward to traveling and exploring and sharing time focused exclusively on us. My wife deserves to be spoiled, and I look forward to putting to good use my free time as a retiree doing just that.

Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to when you retire?

Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be." Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.


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socioeconomist1

They deleted my original post where I pointed out that most retirees wind up spending their money on slot machines and cruises to kill the boredom.

I retired at 25... While I could still have sex without a boner pill. While I could still fight if someone gave me trouble. While I still had the energy to climb mountains. I don't know what being an old fart is going to be like. So, I didn't wait to keep all my time for me....

I figured if I needed to work, it was better to do it later in life once my libido was about dead and I lacked the physical prowess to make the most of life. I couldn't imagine throwing away my 20's and 30's on working some job. that would have sucked.

August 18 2014 at 5:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to socioeconomist1's comment
gee.effwye

So you were an economist for maybe.....two years before 'retiring'?

I'm 48. Still climb, still.can fight, still can rise to the occasion without little blue pills, still dammed.good at my job.

Retirement for you must not be all you had hoped for. You hit these irrelevant comment boards with excrutiatingly long posts seeking affirmation.

"I'm an economist!" Recognize me!".....what a douchebag.

August 18 2014 at 10:49 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
rbearland

!. Waking up early in morning. Fixing a bowl of high fiber grain cereal with fresh fruit and some plain Activia yogart and a little OJ.
2. Hugging a partner.
3a. Cranking up a Mustang GT convertible and rumbling over to community indoor public pool three days a week for 35 minutes of exercise and laps,...followed by a nice hot shower.(only 124 bucks per year)
3b. Other 4 days walk with partner and pet two+ miles on a greenbelt.
4. Then maybe go off to meet with friends in downtown, visit, relax, and drink some coffee that was brought from home..
5. Screw around with internet checking weather, market, and making stupid comments...duh.
6. Watch Price is Right...blah, blah, blah
7. take nap afternoon zzzzzzzzz

Basically doing like what we was dreaming about doing back when slaving away for the customers...

How about them apples, Rhoda?

August 18 2014 at 4:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

A lot of us can't retire because of the inability to fund our SSI because of the lack of real employment:

"While the state Department of Labor touted July’s 6.5 percent unemployment, O’Keefe called it a rounding adjustment from June’s 6.6 percent. “The latest figure is due to the unemployed leaving the job market, not because they found new jobs,” he said."
But private-sector employment does remain a bright spot for New Jersey.
Seems all they hype isn't translating into a real recovery.

August 18 2014 at 11:16 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Iselin007's comment
jpfmtka

No problem for some of us. On my cul-de-sac alone, there are five homes owned by recent retirees. A quiet upscale community of big brick Georgians on acreage in an exclusive swim/tennis/golf community. Three are single women, all of whom had professional careers absent husbands to support their lifestyles or retirements. One has a second home. Another is flying off to somewhere every month. I keep suggesting to them that they consider re-evaluating their lawn and garden service. They all pay $350 a month, but I receive exceptional service for only $240.

August 18 2014 at 11:45 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
worried man

I look forward to Inflation, crippling diseases, being tired every day by noon, the BS news stories in the H. Post , bad financial info that is totally useless, our worthless politicians etc Time for the old people to riot

August 18 2014 at 10:57 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to worried man's comment
Iselin007

Maybe all the rioting will lead to construction jobs for the young so the big box stores will stop dumping their older workers.

August 18 2014 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George Carrera

The hardest thing about retirement is having to get used to receiving monthly cash flows, after getting these on a weekly basis for fifty years.

August 18 2014 at 10:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
grstewartcpa

What I look forward to most is not driving in rush hour traffic

August 18 2014 at 9:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
weilunion

pictures of white people 'creating their retirement'. Right! You will be lucky if you have Social Security and a job at Wal Mart

August 17 2014 at 10:04 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to weilunion's comment
Dale76537

What retirement? If you are not happy or content on your job/career right now, what makes you think that it is going to be better later? IF ONLY this happens, THEN I will do this. This line of thinking is bull hockey. I tried to set aside money for the future but life happens that I have no control over. The mortgage companies and the banksters didn't exactly help out the situation either. Financial advisors weren't dealing with reality while this was happening. These people feel that you need to have a certain amount of money in order to retire. Well, guess what? Many Americans don't have more than $25,000 in their retirement account. If we had work with a living wage to begin with, this wouldn't be an issue. I learn to live with less and I feel that I'm better for it. If you want to feel down, go ahead and compare yourself with others. But I refuse to let other people influence how I live my life. I have health issues now and relationships are important to me on a daily basis. It has been my experience that when I help other people out, I help myself. It is not about materialism as to what some people may think. So again, I say, what retirement?

August 17 2014 at 9:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
anthony.fama@aol

The only down side to retirement is you're in you're 60s and getting older.

August 17 2014 at 7:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to anthony.fama@aol's comment
weilunion

When you buy the box in America is when you retire

August 17 2014 at 10:05 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to weilunion's comment
gee.effwye

You buy yours yet?

August 17 2014 at 11:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Iselin007

That box just might be imported!

August 18 2014 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
eteeuwe

Everyday's a Saturday.

August 17 2014 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply