Will you need a schedule after you retire?

Daily PlannerI recently received a comment from a reader who wrote, “Most people look forward to not having a schedule when they retire. I like structure, I take comfort in schedules. That is my concern about retiring.”

The issue of how tightly I want (or need) to schedule my time has been something I’ve been wrestling with since I’ve been retired. It’s also a topic that Jeff and I have different opinions on.

There is not a “one size fits all” answer to this question. It all has to do with what kinds of activities you wish to fill your day with, and what goals you have for how you want your retirement to play out. A lot also depends upon your personality type.

The short answer is: If you will enjoy your life more with a schedule, have one!

I will admit that left to my own devices, I can easily and guiltlessly be a bit lazy. I like to read, surf the internet, listen to music, enjoy the pool, and just have time to do what I please. I don’t feel the urge to be productive all the time. A great thing about retirement is that you can allow yourself to do that.

Since I retired, I’ve been very active in Toastmasters (although that is scaling back now), and I’ve also found several instrumental ensembles in which to play. Add in some concerts and workshops we attend and various social events that come along, and I have found that I certainly need to maintain a calendar!

Yes, I realize that a schedule and a calendar, while closely related, are not the same thing. A calendar is a tool you use to keep track of appointments and events that occur on particular days and times. A schedule is more focused on how you are going to spend the hours of each day.

In addition to my calendar events mentioned above, I have two enterprises that I have been trying to grow since retiring. (Actually, I started laying the groundwork about six months before I retired.) One is “Retire Fabulously!,” the other is a presentation skills training and coaching business called “Presenting for Excellence.” In order to keep making forward progress on these businesses, I am going to have to impose a stricter schedule upon myself.

One activity that I, and many retirees, want to devote more time to in retirement is writing. This can take many forms: writing a fiction or non-fiction book, blogging, writing your memoir, documenting your family history, etc. Regardless of the genre, every serious writer I have encountered claims that the only way you’ll make good progress on your writing endeavors is to devote time to it every day. It can be 15 minutes or three hours, but it needs to be consistently scheduled every day. Otherwise, it’s too easy for everything else to step in and pre-empt your writing time.

The same applies to many other pursuits: art, music, going to the gym, volunteering – you name it. You need to schedule time for these activities every day, or at perhaps on certain days of the week. If you don’t, you'll quickly find that you are not doing them as often as you would like.

The beauty of maintaining a schedule during your retirement is that it’s totally driven by you (and perhaps your spouse). During your working years, your schedule is not always under your control, but after you retire, it is. Your schedule can be as loose or tight as you want. And there’s really no penalty if you don’t adhere to it every single day. If it’s a beautiful day and you feel like getting out of the house and going for a hike or a nice meal out, you can! No boss is going to hold you accountable.

As I’ve written previously, your retirement lifestyle should contain elements that provide you with physical activity, mental stimulation, socialization, and fulfillment. You may find that you need a schedule to keep all these activities balanced and organized!

You will have the most success sticking to a schedule, and you will enjoy your retirement more, if your schedule is filled with the things you want to do, not the things that you feel that you have to do.

The most important message here is that you shouldn't feel that your retirement has to align with any commonly-held or pre-conceived expectations of what retirement is supposed to be like.

If you will enjoy your life in retirement more with a schedule, have one! Your retirement (or renaissance) should be exactly how you want it to be.

© 2014 Dave Hughes

Photo credit:  Justin See.  Some rights reserved.


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