September 6th, 2014

"But, what are you going to do when you're retired?"

~Saturday~ I'm close enough to retiring now, that I'm tracking the days—37 calendars days, 26 business days. It'll all culminate on my 57th birthday, on October 13, 2014.

It's kind of mind-boggling to be self-aware of so few actual working days left in a career that has spanned 34.5 years. Well, that actually included a year off (attempting to write a novel), so technically it's 33.5 years, I suppose.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When someone tells you they're going to retire, "What are you going to do?" is not what they want to hear. For your convenience, here are some suggested alternatives:

  • Congratulations!

  • That is so great! You must be so excited!

  • Won't it be great to just be?

In addition to "What are you going to do?" here are a few other things that you might want to reconsider saying:

  • Aren't you going to get bored? (This is unoriginal and uninformed, and in many cases, probably projection.)

  • You can't just do nothing! (Actually, I can just do nothing, if I want to.)

  • I don't think I'll ever get to retire. (Makes it about you.)

  • I won't be able to retire until I'm 65 or 70. (Makes it more, specifically, about you.)

  • You can retire early, because you don't have kids. (Makes it about you, and the trade-off resulting from the choices you've made.)

The thing is, no one really knows how they're going to react to the things they are—or are not—going to do in retirement.

I've spoken to several different people now who are in various stages of retirement (i.e., recently, a year out, several years out), and everyone is handling it differently. And everyone has found that some things are how they thought they'd be, and some things are different than they thought they'd be. Imagine that. Just like real life.

There is a lot of pressure from our (American) society to feel "productive," or to do something "meaningful"—even in retirement it seems. I'm going to do my best to not be driven by those expectations, but I'm also open to the possibility that they'll come back to bite me.

I have a long list of things I want to do, at a slow pace (and that part is key) when I'm retired and just have the luxury of time. Once an item is done, I'm not sure if I will have felt "productive" in retrospect doing it, or if it will have provided "meaning" to my life, but that's for me to sort out.

Here is a list of the things to do that I've captured so far:

  • Emotional/intellectual activity

    • Continue to meet monthly with my Mostly Social Book Club

    • Continue to meet monthly with my Salon group

    • Continue my volunteer work as a member of the board of directors of Manbites Dog Theater

    • Continue my volunteer work as a member of the board of directors of my townhouse's homeowners' association

    • Continue my weekly line-dancing and two-stepping night (for as long as my knees will permit)

    • Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is the month of November)

    • Write for at least two hours a day

    • Create greetings cards

    • Write an entry for McSweeney's and submit it

    • Create a personal YouTube video pun channel and create more video puns, like this one

    • Create a DIY: calendar journal on 3x5 index cards

    • Socialize on Facebook

    • Do crossword puzzles

    • Participate in Lumosity's Human Cognition Project for at least 15 minutes a day

    • Read lots of books (lying in my hammock on my deck, whenever the weather is agreeable)

    • Spend more time with Bob and Frances and Vincent

    • Actually get 8 hours of sleep regularly

  • Physical activity

    • Go to the gym (or do some other equivalent exercise) 1-1.5 hours 5-6 days a week (Quit laughing. I can dream!)

    • Maybe, slowly, start riding my bike again—in the fall, assuming it finally cools down

  • Computer/online

    • Get one of my printers working

    • Restore original OS to old workstation or wipe it clean, and take it to the electronics recycle center

    • Dispose of my old Think Pad

    • Unpack the "My Documents" folder on my new workstation

    • Sync my iTunes account to the cloud

    • Configure my iPod to sync for only certain music

    • Scan in all my found writing

    • Go through online (and printed) pictures and organize them

    • Move all MDT agendas and minutes to Google drive

    • Update my identity inventory

    • Move my "professional portfolio" to my WordPress site

    • Complete the conversion of my personal website to WordPress

    • Pick an app as a feed reader and set up some feeds

  • Around the house

    • Cook more at home

    • Go through 2 cassette tapes to see if there's anything to save from them

    • Go through 5 VHS tapes to see what I want to keep

    • Hang up my master's degree diploma

    • Organize all of my MBTI materials into one 3-ring binder

    • Paint my guest bedroom, and maybe my master bedroom

    • Replace quarter-rounds in my downstairs bathroom

    • Clean out and organize kitchen cabinets

    • Clean out and organize guest room closet

    • Clean out and organize master bedroom closet

    • Clean out and organize linen closet

    • Clean out and organize entrance hall closet

    • Clean out and organize filing cabinet

    • Clean out and organize storage shed

  • Travel

    • Considering a month-long RV trip around the U.S., visiting various people that Bob and I know

So, those are the things that are currently on my radar. I'm also not opposed to eventually doing a little freelance editing work, which is a distinct possibility from the great employer I'm working for until October 13. I'm thinking a little extra bourbon money can always come in handy.