Love in the Afternoon

Recently I’ve been thinking about addressing the “challenge” of retiring again. Reviewing my finances and my pensions – and, mostly, my health – I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s going to be daft to work full time beyond fifty five, largely because I believe that the ten years between fifty five and sixty five are going to be a lot, lot different, physically and mentally, from the ten years following on from that. And I don’t even want to think about the ten years following on from seventy five. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, and all that, so quit the job in eighteen months, that’s my current thinking.

Okay, sounds like a plan. Mind you, I had the plan to retire at fifty, did it, had a year out and then went back to work! It will need to be different this time around. My plan needs to be improved and the devil will be in the detail. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

I failed to prepare the last time I retired in that I’d absolutely no plan or structure to my days and repeatedly failed to apply myself to the task of creating such. I just took the days as they came and made it up as I went along. This wasn’t a good approach, something that I’m currently changing with regards to my health and fitness and wondering if I can apply a similar system to filling my retirement days.

In the year since I’ve returned to work I’ve put on almost a stone in weight. I’m sitting at a desk for most of the day and I’m massively less active (in lots of small ways) than I was when I was retired. It shows. A couple of weeks ago I decided to “grab hold of the wheel” and change my direction with regards to my diet which, I’d read, can be five times more effective in losing you weight than any exercise programme. This is, to an extent, the story of my life. If only I could avoid the beer, the biscuits, the butter and the bread then surely my pot belly would retreat under pressure? Probably, but how many times have I resolved to do that, and lasted all of two and a half weeks? What would be different this time?

It’s early days, but what I decided to do differently this time was to create an eating plan for each week and follow it.  I kind of know the “lean” meals I need to eat, so I sat down and wrote up a menu list for breakfast, lunch and dinner that I intended to follow. So far, I’m finding this approach to be surprisingly effective in a variety of ways. I know what I need to do, it’s written down, and I’m thereby finding it relatively easy to stick to. It’s the first time I’ve ever done this and, so far. it’s working.

This has made me think. Can I apply this approach to other areas of my life? I’d admit I’m a bit resistant to this, thinking that this is an overtly “anal” thing to do that really doesn’t suit my personality type. Maybe it would suit an accountant, but not a free wheeling lion tamer like myself. I don’t want to sit down and write a schedule for my evening that chunks my time into half hourly tasks and has me thinking “Oh, eight o’clock, time to put down this book I’m enjoying and go and listen to a podcast for half an hour as I have committed to do.”

When I was retired, I had a fairly well established morning routine, and I found it really enjoyable and easy to stick to. My evenings weren’t difficult to fill either. But the afternoons were often a yawning void that saw me at a complete loose end and frittering the time away, achieving nothing. My worst retirement hours were always between midday and five in the evening and the challenge of filling those hours was something I never really got to grips with. I did think about planning an afternoon schedule, but this felt like defeat. Surely the point of retirement was to have all the time in the world at your beck and call and not some slavish devotion to a timed list? If I was going to do some scheduled work, why not get paid for it?

Why not indeed? I blogged recently that my next goal at work was a four day week. That’d be good, but an even better solution would be to work in the afternoons only. I doubt my employer, or many other employers, would be up for that. So I’ll maybe need to construct a plan for myself, and find something that I’m happy to do in the afternoons that generates some pin money too. That’s something to work on.

 

17 thoughts on “Love in the Afternoon

  1. In the 4 months since I gave up work I’ve been a bit bored, but that’s mainly due to winter, as I like being outside, gardening, walking or visiting so always struggle with short dark days. The conservation volunteering has given both structure and limbering to my week, but I’m still looking for a computer based task to occupy me, as thinks I’ve tried like WIkipedia editing have been defeated by the annoying people there. I suspect if I wanted to work it would be a winter/summer split, but I’ve not felt that restless yet

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    • Winter is a struggle. The lack of daylight hours bothers me a lot more than the cold or the rain, and I hate to feel I’m being closed in. Some days I’m really grateful to be going into the office, much more so than in the summer. Mr Moustache doesn’t talk much about his computer, although that’s his knowledge base. He goes on much more about carpentry which, I feel, is a siren occupation for many blokes. It’s a dream though. Talk to any joiner about making a living that way, and I doubt you’ll be given a paean about the pleasure of working with your hands!

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      • Or you could be like me and take up astronomy! For me winter is a time to look forward to; long cold nights for maximum appreciation of the Heavens. Then I switch to other pursuits in the summer when it barely gets dark at my latitudes. Now if I could only fix the tendency for skies on the west coast of Britain to be cloudy most of the time…

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  2. “I believe that the ten years between fifty five and sixty five are going to be a lot, lot different, physically and mentally, from the ten years following on from that. And I don’t even want to think about the ten years following on from seventy five. ”

    Well, I am just a few years ahead of you and I couldn’t agree more.

    A person can never be quite certain how much time they have on earth, nor can they be sure when the body will start to “break down”, or if it will be sudden or gradual.

    But, statistically, you can put bets down that a decrease in activity is just as you describe, worsening over time.

    Depending on how you plan to occupy your twilight years–gardening? travel? rock climbing?–you may need to decide sooner rather than later about the rosebud gathering.

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    • Exercise and diet, to me, are a bit like shaving. I can’t be bothered with them most of the time, but I always feel better afterward. When I’ve cooked a good meal with healthy ingredients that’s tasted great, okay, it’s not quite as goddam tasty as a Dominoes Pepperoni Feast Pizza, but the upsides are purer.

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  3. When I finished I was glad to avoid the Holiday sweets and Birthday cake. I knew they were bad but too tempting.
    I keep a diary of things to do, etc. When I plan out my week the first thing in the diary is exercise, either running, cycling or just stretching on an easy day. Then I’ll think about my diet and what I’m going to eat to support my training. I’ll then think about jobs around the house to be done. Works for me but I like to be organized.

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    • I’m coming round to the idea of organising my free time. When working, I liked my free time to be as unorganised as possible, put the mind in neutral and spin away. These days my current job isn’t as demanding, so a bit of structure to my own time seems to be a good thing.

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  4. The thing that worked for me was working part time for 2 years and getting a dog. Out early before work,out again after work and out again before bed. Also staying in a village with plenty of countryside walks no need for the gymn. This morning out with other villagers tidying community woodland, Do I miss work? No.
    Regards
    Campbell

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    • I can see how a dog could be a good idea. I often thought about walking them for money in my idle moments, but too many other people seemed to have the same notion. I’d choose the countryside over the gym any day of the week, but it was the swimming pool and sauna I used most when I went on a daily basis.

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  5. The ancient Greeks had it taped. Know thyself

    Every place you run to, still yourself you see in the mirror…. It is the point of individuation, of Life. You can run. But you can’t hide 🙂 It is the point of retirement IMO, but each to their own.

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    • I’d be inclined to agree – dogs, todo lists, time planners. they’re all distractions from looking in the mirror

      and if you think dominoes pizzas are tasty then there’s a lot of looking in the mirror to be done 😉

      too much flip-flopping going on at the moment by the sound of it

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  6. I’m well into the 55-65 zone, and have experienced a lot of the issues raised here (“The idle man has no free time” – old Chinese proverb. Supposedly). But one thing I’ve discovered is that for me the only way to not only stop the rot physically, but even reverse it is to get a personal trainer.

    Yes, I know – sounds like the kind of thing only zillionaire celebs do, but my partner and I found a local one who is brilliant and works out at around £20/hr. And he’s somehow succeeded in keeping us at it for almost a year now (I’ve never managed to go to the gym for more than a few months before). The trick is – he keeps it interesting, setting goals, changing the exercises every time. So we just don’t get bored, but are probably now stronger and fitter than kids half our age.

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    • I’ll admit, I have thought about this and would no doubt benefit from it because trainers are probably really good at what they do in order to make a living from it. There also seems to be plenty of advice for younger people getting fit, but when you’re over fifty you’re already carrying a lot of baggage in more ways than one when it comes to exercise. The important thing is to keep going and anything that helps you do that is worth considering.

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