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The whirlwind last week of work is done. The office is cleaned out and ready for the new case manager to take her place, pick up the web strings, and take over. The clients all know her and are almost all happy with having a transition to a new person. The goodbyes are all said, the parties are done, I’m five pounds fatter, and the flowers have faded. Time to transition to retirement for real.
Planning the transition to retirement
I’ve talked about my plans for things to do in previous posts, but not so much about the process I went through to get where I am today.
So way back, the first thing I did was to list what I need in a nonworking lifestyle. I am a loner and shy, but I also have depression and need some socialization. Next, I need a variety of experiences so I don’t get bored. And I need to do stuff I enjoy as well as stuff I “owe” like housework.
Next, I looked around at available socialization opportunities. A friend mentioned the Daughters of the American Revolution, which you join by proving lineal descent from someone who helped the American colonists in their quest for independence from England.
With my friend’s help I got in touch with the right person and got enrolled with my mother’s paperwork as proof. The chapter I joined is very active and assigns new people roles right away. I have a shot at learning lots of things, genealogy among them.
The local fiber arts group recruited me years ago, and through that I joined a regional handspinners’ association. They have conventions every two years with classes and all, so I went to those and learned a lot. Met some people too.
Fiber arts has so many different crafts it’s scary. There’s always something to learn. Many people think of felting when I say fiber arts, but I’ve never done that. Have to try it sometime!
Combining social and mental stimulation
The DAR and the handspinning groups have not only been social outlets, they have also offered lots to learn. Which satisfies my second requirement so I can avoid boredom. And though there are things I enjoy that don’t happen in these groups, there aren’t many.
The nice thing about my interests is that I can pursue them individually and then share them with the group. The head of our chapter decided to get up a group to make a quilt to give to a veteran in appreciation of his service. I joined up and did some of the sewing on the quilt top. It was enjoyable work and rewarding, seeing the picture of the elderly gentleman with his new quilt.
Re-balancing work at home
Years ago I had a series of health challenges that limited my physical activities. So over time my participation in household chores declined and my husband took them on. He also kept his own chores. However, over the same period his back has become very delicate, so it’s time to reassign some work back my way.
This wasn’t exactly in the plan. It just happened. But now that I’ll be home more I can do more at home. It’s only fair. So I assessed the workload with my husband and we have figured out where I can be the most help.
Adding exercise: another transition
My former job consisted of sitting, walking to and from the car, and driving. Well, more than that, but physically…yeah, that’s about it. Weekends are similarly not very active. My exercise then is mostly up and down the cellar stairs doing laundry and maybe a waltz around a Wal-Mart.
Here again, combining things is key to plotting one’s transition to retirement. In taking on more household tasks, I found that stuff that hurts my husband’s back will be giving me exercise. He had been doing floor care inside and mowing outside. He can keep the lawn tractor and I can run the push mower.
That said, I expect to start slowly and work up to full-blown mowing. We have a lot of push mower territory and I’m out of shape.
At our benefits fair I picked up a pool schedule. In it are exercise classes I can go to. Pools are fine. I have bathing suits, and this pool is clean and cheap to access. I’ve always liked to swim.
My friend who lives nearby has also said she needs to walk more, but I’m thinking that might be next year since she’s planning a hip replacement soon. But I’ve walked the loop alone and done fine.
This mishmash of activities is more in line with an article I recently read, that says to be fit for your life, do the things you need to do and work it into your life. Since I don’t do “exercise” well, a mix of obligate chores and social or pleasurable activities fits me better. I’m not going to commit to marathons so I don’t have to run.
Relearning how to relax and play
In the “second childhood” domain, I figure it would be good to be a bit more spontaneous and flexible in life. I’ve become such a routine-bound creature! Structure is all fine and good until it’s confining, and that’s where I find myself at the beginning of my transition to retirement.
A lot of mental work lies ahead. I need to restructure my thoughts so I can loosen up. Being so structured is no longer needed for survival. The alarm clock is on furlough. I need to think more along the lines of “the laundry will get done tomorrow” if an opportunity to go exploring comes today.
Unlearning worry is another pitfall. I am used to running on worry. It was my biggest motivator. I will have to dust off my anti-worry tools. When a worry nags, I will tell it I’ve heard all that before, because I have–my worries aren’t very original.
And then I tell the worry not to come back till it has something new for me to think about. This does two things. First, it will eventually get through to the worry that it needs to innovate before I will give it attention and time. And if it does innovate, then I will consider the new data and see if it’s something to really worry about.
Relearning that it’s OK to relax and do things I want to do will take some effort. I’m a guilty sort, who has to wait and do the necessary things before settling or going off and doing my own projects. Perhaps a sort of block schedule alternating duties and fun things would help me get used to the idea. Of course, I get permission to blow it all up if a special opportunity comes along.
My planning isn’t very formal, but I do have goals and ways to get there, even as I transition to retirement. I expect planning in this way to keep going because I intend to make like a fingernail and keep growing for the rest of my life. Comments?