Six years ago today I woke up officially retired from the workplace, a new identity waiting to be formed.  Yes, six years!!!  And what a six years it has been.  

Prior to retiring I received lots of advice, most of it very useful wisdom, from people already enjoying a life filled with options of personal choice.  Whether you are now retired or looking forward to it in the future, these nuggets of insight are worth repeating.

The first piece of wisdom came from a couple I volunteered alongside at a local farmers market.  I still remember his face when he told me, “Guard your time jealously.”  In the moment I didn’t realize how many people would be looking at me as a person who needed for them to fill my time.  I found myself thinking of him and his advice again and again as well-meaning acquaintances, friends, even strangers, tugged at me to volunteer or join their organization of choice.  This is your time to use as you choose – guard it jealously!

That said, another piece of advice was to give some of your time to a cause you care about deeply.  I was already giving my time to volunteering at the agricultural extension’s information booth at the farmers market.  So, that one was easy for me.  That was my organization of choice.  I educated.  I taught people how to grow food, to create spaces for butterflies, bees and birds.  I helped people make their gardens and the Earth a better place.  It was fun.  Find a cause where you willingly, happily and whole-heartedly give your time and your being.

That brings me to doing something you love.  Whatever your lifelong hobby, now’s your time to enjoy it even more than ever.  I know people who golf or play tennis several times a week, spend more hours acting at the community theater, make their garden into a show place around their home or turned their art into a source of income.  Whatever it is up the ante.  Keep doing it at a quantum leap.

Then, try something you always wanted to do, but didn’t have the time.  Retirement affords the opportunity to start something new, fresh, fulfilling a dream.  For me, that was taking up watercolor painting.  I wasn’t good at it and didn’t enjoy it, but it led to other art mediums I do enjoy.  With retirement you can start anew as many times as you wish.  This is your moment for adventure!  Failure is o.k.  As a bonus of my adventures, I’ve met many other retirees in daytime art classes.  Some became new friends.

Speaking of friends, realize that many of your friendships will be altered.  The people who are still employed may drift away as your identity evolves.  Or you may drift away from them as you find new acquaintances with a shared interest and time frame.  Your social life will revolve around a daytime persona that is different from the work you.  Be open to meeting new people.

Along with the advice of guarding your time jealously, the second piece of wisdom the couple mentioned above dispensed, “Give yourself two years to adjust.”  It took all of two years and then some for me to settle in.  Others may take no time at all.  It depends on a lot of variables, such as your personality, your attachment to the type of work you did, how you left work – forced out, disability or planned exit, your retirement activities, your mental view and emotional feelings about retiring.  Two years.

Lastly, retirement is an opportunity.  It is not the dictionary definition of ceasing to work; it’s serendipity – the chance to do the kind of work you want to do.  It’s the possibility of tapping into your reserved longings, the savoring of freedom to use your time as you choose.  It’s the prospect of a fresh start in life.  And, I hope this shared wisdom helps you to do just that.

20 comments on “Wisdom

  1. Thank you for your wisdom, Kathy.. I’ve been reading your blog since preretirement and have always enjoyed your thoughts and your writing style. I continue to enjoy the freedom to create my own life in this new chapter as well as to accept the unexpected.


  2. Great suggestions–although maybe more applicable to those in “early to mid” retirement who are still physically healthy and have energy to spare. At 82 that’s not quite so true for me anymore. I worked until I was 78 and still miss it in some ways but realize that I couldn’t keep up now. Although I still volunteer, doing things just isn’t as easy as it was in my 60s and 70s.


  3. Your blog was the first I subscribed to when I retired. Your comments have helped so much. I’m still working it out two years later. Never imagined it would be so difficult, especially with a few medical issues…. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


  4. I’m retiring in December and definitely wonder what I’ll do with my time and how to create a paycheck! Love hearing about others experience and knowing it can take couple years to find my groove was reassuring. I don’t have to have it all figured out the day after retirement!


  5. Hi Kathy,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now, but now am (recently) retired myself. I am trying to give time to things I didn’t have a lot of time for while working – right now that is reading and writing. I am working on starting a blog myself to organize my thoughts around this new phase and hopefully will share them with others who find them interesting. Your words of advice struck home with me this morning as I read them. I’ll try to be more patient with myself – 2 years to adjust is starting to seem realistic!
    Thanks for being an inspiration for me,


  6. Thanks for this! These are great reminders. I’ve been retired from teaching for a little over 3 years now and feel “settled in”, but also ready for new challenges and changes. Hope all is well with you!


  7. Thank you so much for your advice and for writing this blog. I totally agree with the, “Guard your time jealously!” And keep a growth mindset! Thank you! Thank you!
    C…I hope to retire in 2019!


  8. Kathy I am recently retired and although I feel dislocated after just 4 months I am relaxing into the extra time I have to do things I love without feeling guilty because I should be doing housework or busily finding something “worthwhile” to do. I find your observation around change in friendships interesting as many of the common threads have melted away. I also feel a loneliness which is related to not being constantly among people and with that comes a fear of becoming a tad stuck in my opinions and thinking as the “challenge” to grow/ reconsider/ review my responses isn’t as actively present.


  9. Hi Kathy, I loved what you said “I didn’t realize how many people would be looking at me as a person who needed for them to fill my time.” So true… also the number of people who (incorrectly) assume that I am lonely!
    Although I am only semi-retired I am so busy and happy I can’t find enough hours in the day.
    However, I did take the plunge and move away from the town I had grown to hate over the past 20 years, and I am now in a wonderful, vibrant city, a new house, and loving life – for the first time in a long time!
    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark


  10. Hi Kathy, I retired three years ago. I’ve been fine; have enjoyed every day – but suddenly I am finding myself frustrated, “aimless”, lacking in confidence, and in need of something more. Hoping to find my niche again somewhere.


    • Welcome to my blog Rosemary. Retirement, as with any other time in our lives, will take on many reinventions of ourselves. We feel aimless or stuck or stagnant at other times and we change something to renew our energy for living. Take a look at my reply to Gail. If you could do anything at all with your time, what would that be? Life begins just outside our comfort zone. Act confident even if you don’t feel confident. And don’t be afraid to fail. Sometimes our greatest failures lead to our greatest success. At this time of our lives, we have nothing to lose by exploring and everything to gain. Let me know how looking for your niche goes. K


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.