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.