After decades of managing a work life balance, how do you manage life without work? Vinita Alvares Fernandes has some answers
Have you ever wondered what retirement would feel like?
The transition from the fast pace, clock watching, multitasking lifestyle with little or no ‘me’ time, to slow paced days balanced with official work to complete, time for an afternoon nap, meals where you actually chew your food instead of gobbling down three bites before your next meeting.
Retirement does make for a healthier lifestyle, but can also leave you missing your work, and your work family.
Retirement planning guru Christine Fahlund recommends a “trial run” before actual retirement. What exactly is a trial run?
When you hit the mid fifties, spend a few years of your annual vacation in ‘pretend retirement mode.’
The first year could be you scouting around for smaller towns where you would prefer to retire, away from the hustle and bustle; you could actually rent a home for a few weeks to get the vibe of the place, encountering the people and the lifestyle.
The second year could be a repeat in another place, with a total disconnect from work, to know how much your pace would actually drop.
The third would be the grand mix of the previous two years, with decisions, not necessarily in cement.
If you are a couple, maybe by now you are empty nesters and already adjusting to a lifestyle change of time together, the five minutes a day of connecting on important matters, hoping it would not turn into an argument is now a lengthy conversation, weighing the pros and cons of every matter with patience and respect for each other’s views. There is now time for that after your workday.
Retirement extends this quality time manifold. Day after day of close proximity to your spouse, hours of being in the same room, eating all meals together and TV time together too.
So what we really want post retirement, or rather what we really do not want our lives to be post retirement, is what you can narrow down on if you begin your research a couple of years in advance. It will hold you in good stead for the long run. More so, validate all that you want your retirement life to be.
Dos and Don’ts
Some key takeaways after dabbling in a ‘faux-tirement’:
Get rid of all extra crockery, cutlery, linen, artifacts, sorting out years of photographs lying in a box, getting clarity on your parents estate, during these ‘faux-tirement’ periods, so when you actually need to down-size you wont have so much stuff to deal with. Shorten that daunting to-do list.
During these periods of ‘faux-tirement’ you can have the experience of what it feels like not to multitask and focus on single tasks, complete one and then move to the next. Nothing is the end of the world anymore. You are able to do a better job of things, enjoy doing them and notice the peace of mind that’s added on each hour of every day.
The balancing act of each day becomes more doable, some part of your day knocking off bothersome stuff, the ‘got to do’ stuff, followed by leisurely walks, staring at the sky or a catch-up call with friends.
Know that you will miss the give-and-take of your work life and your work family, prepare yourself for this inevitable loss in your life, your colleagues, your celebrated birthdays at work, your shared tears for the loss of a colleague or loved ones and many small things that were a huge part of your life. Even though you know you will keep in touch with your few, you will miss work and your work family.
Suddenly your TV is on all day with the same news blaring on all channels, you are more active in posting stories on social media and liking others posts and tweets. You will get sucked into this vortex. On the other hand, reading online on a plethora of subjects, watching episodes of soaps from so many earlier unheard-of portals, you are now current, repeat watching is also a possibility. No time for boredom.
Meals are no longer out of a can or frozen TV boxes. Each meal is planned around health, fresh produce and even décor. What an amazing change. Cooking and sipping wine are all a pleasure, stove to plate is possible, the carcinogenic microwave can now be junked and you can finally get rid of the guilt of owning one. Walking sixteen thousand steps while listening to podcasts is no longer a distant dream. Health is wealth and I’m now up for grabs. After all people who retire in good health are a lucky lot.
What about the change in wardrobe, its now ‘dress for comfort’ move away ‘dress to impress’ oh so liberating to wear flat shoes, open sandals or flip-flops all day, hair in a top knot or under a pee-cap. Make-up free skin for the ladies, finally your skin can breathe, shoulders can slouch a bit and there is a new smell of freedom in the air.
Shopping no longer needs to be a stress-buster, its now a shift of priorities, time to browse and pick just one thing after spending three hours pondering over stuff. You no longer need that much and you definitely do not want to add stuff that needs looking after. Shop wisely, shop for essentials, ‘do not shop till you drop’ is the new mantra. It balances off the no income tug-of-war.
Spending time at home a lot more requires peace and quiet, privacy from the technicians, service agents, cable operators, the gardener or the painter. Tackle all big foreseeable home repair jobs during your pre retirement years, its one of my most frustrating chores. You can then relish your privacy.
Finally you will have the time to be a dreamer, jog your memory to days of growing up, smile at memories of your parents, know what’s left in your travel bucket and make concrete plans, open your heart to the world of equality and plan your contribution to help fix it. Lots can be thought of, lots can be planned, lots can be done, let every day of your life be a revelation.
So get prepared for retirement long before it is at your doorstep, sabbaticals will give you a chance to noodle on what retirement would feel like and lessen the load of the crucial differences relative to actual retirement.
Observe, get a sense of lifestyle of a ‘not working’ person and enjoy the balance.