Now in our 3rd year of retirement, it's a good time to talk about retirement realities and a few retirement problems. Sort of lessons learned that I can share with you.
One of the things I've realized, probably not really that surprising, is that if you hated to exercise when you didn't have much time for it, you won't like it any better when you do have plenty of time.
When I was working I thought that once I retired and had more time for it, I would be able to get in better shape and lose weight by going to the gym.
Well, I tried and tried, but I just don't like forced exercise.
I can only do the treadmill if I can watch a TV show or movie at the same time.
And even then, after about a mile of good treading, it's still very hard to stick it out even if the show is really good.
I just want to stop the belt and stand there until the show is over.
It's just that annoying to me.
So anyway, solving the exercise problem boils down to finding activities that you really enjoy to get the activity you need.
My favorites are mountain biking, hiking, and walking outside, like on greenway trails, where I can enjoy nature, sunshine, and see other people.
For people planning a sabbatical or semi-retirement, here's one of the important retirement realities. It's hard to go back!
I've found that once I left the stressful work life behind, it is really difficult to sign up for anything resembling an 8 to 5 job, or an 8 to whenever job, in my field.
Just thinking about it causes me flutters of anxiety.
The only thing that could get me back into it would be a need to survive, I think.
I still get job offers and see interesting gigs, and sometimes I think about taking one just to get out with people in my field.
But that thought only lasts a few minutes. There are just too many things I don't want to put up with anymore. And I have a keen aversion to any possibility of stress. That probably means I was really burned out in my job when I quit, so it might not feel that way to everyone.
I still love the work I did and I've found that there are easy ways to play with it, so I'm lucky in that way. Some things I do in my spare time could be considered work, but for me they are mostly hobbies.
I do them when the notion strikes and strictly for my own pleasure, passion, learning, profit, or fun.
Writing and websites, for example, in addition to making pottery and genealogy. And selling on eBay, which I started as a way to clean out my closets. Now I'm a Power Seller, and I love hearing that "Cha-Ching" sound when something sells.
Developing a website is a ton of work if you want it to be visible or a financial success. But there are so many things to learn, and for me it has been fun.
And on the technical side, it has led to dabbling in Cloud Services, where I can keep in touch with my old job skills and even update them. A lot like my old job, but without all the unpleasant stuff usually related to having a boss.
If you need ideas, see the page on things to do.
Third on my list of retirement realities is not traveling as much as I had hoped.
If you happen to live near your children, deciding between travel adventures and family time can be tough.
So far we only have one grandchild, who is 6 now.
Rather than seeing exotic places around the world, we have chosen to see the world through the eyes of our little one.
It is such a priceless thing to have the time to nurture a young child.
We couldn't do it to the same degree when our kids were small, not many parents can, because we had to provide for them.
And we know his parents are naturally a little bit jealous of the time we have with him. It works out for everyone, though. They have time alone as a couple when they need it and we have sleepovers with our little guy.
Since we can spend hours with him, we don't want to travel because we will never get this chance again. Maybe when he prefers his pals over his grandparents we will feel freer to be away from home, but for now we don't want to miss a minute of his precious childhood.
Fourth of the retirement realities: you still have to compromise now and then.
When I first started planning to retire, my husband was not interested in it. He said he didn't want to slow down, ever. But it turned out that we did retire at the same time, in our mid 50s.
The only problem with this is that I have a lot of interests, and sometimes I need to put my own interests aside in favor of shared ones. So the feeling of not having enough time that I used to feel because of work, I still feel sometimes.
I think this is a good problem to have, but it does require thought and good communication to find a balance and keep both of us happy. We're lucky to have such full lives, too.
Every now and then I feel the need to ask for alone time. I must be an introvert because so many of my hobbies are solitary ones, and if I don't get alone time I feel stressed and unhappy. I think my husband must be an extrovert because he really loves to talk and enjoys company more often than I do.
The point is that all relationships require give and take, and in retirement it can be even more important.
Be prepared to negotiate and find the right balance.