You’ve retired. You made it. Now you have a new life. Congratulations. What are you going to do now?
You have always had choices and made decisions so this should be easy. You have dreams and maybe plans too. No more restrictions of the times and places where you work. As many, and as long, holidays as you like - or can afford.
New routines. 24 hours a day together. Who does what, and when, in the house and garden.
Time for each of you to indulge in your own, or joint, or even new hobbies. What could go wrong?
On the face of it, nothing really. Yet I have watched and learned form many retirees (which includes me). After the basking in the glow of what seems a life of total freedom other issues can begin to creep into your life. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, so it can be easy to not be bothered.
On a short stay in Spain, sheltering from the heat under the shade of Mulberry trees between games of Petanque, I was chatting to one of my friends. Somehow or other it got round to whether he and his wife stayed in Spain now or moved back to the UK. He said the decision was part of his 10-year plan. He is 80. That stopped me short as it raised the issue of whether I am thinking ahead, or just pottering along.
From what many of my old friends have said over the years, and from what I can see, the longer you are retired the more and more you drift away from actively and decisively running your life. Now that’s fine if you are enjoying your time then why change anything?
The biggest test, and sometimes shock, of where you are, and where you are going, is when you meet and mix with people who are still working, for example your children, your grandchildren and younger non-retired people. They are planning. They are making, or adjusting, to changes. New technologies have to be embraced, new ways of doing things, learning to adapt to new opportunities.
These are the things you have done all your life. This is why you have succeeded in your own way, why you have made it to retirement. Just think back to how much your life, and your world, has changed since you were a child?
So now maybe we think we are out of the picture. In a rosy glow of leisure and contentment, immune from the pressures of the world. But of course we are not, however hard we try to stay in that glow of cosy protected retirement.
We still have to think, to plan, to make decisions. Some of those decisions are going to be hard and tough. We may still be mentally alert but possibly not so robust physically. Old age is not a disease. It is an opportunity to be bold. You have served you apprenticeship in life, now apply all that knowledge and skill to be even better. Set an example to the younger generation. Surprise them. Surprise yourself.
Beware. The geriatric couch potato society is always looking for new members. Trivial decisions become treated as big decisions. My dad spent 40 years managing huge construction sites all over the country with hundreds of workers yet he would often say, when asked what he was doing this week would typically reply that one day was to collect the pension, another day was taken up shopping. Is that it? Am I doing that? His main role was as the chauffer who took my mother down to the sea in Plymouth harbour where she swam, every day of the year winter and summer, with her octogenarian fellow bathing belles.
Don’t lose your sharpness, hone it, use it. Stay in the game. Be challenged with new ideas, hobbies. Think and plan ahead.
Your know the saying “ people don’t plan to fail: they just fail to plan” Don’t die with the music still in you. Never ever accept that you are ‘to old for that’. My mother used to go to Age Concern to cook and serve meals to the ‘old ones’. She was 84. She still did dressmaking - she was a trained and qualified professional seamstress. She loved new ideas and new fashions.