What do retired people do all day? What exactly is “retired” anyway?
Better yet, what should retired people do all day? Are you retired and living the “life?” Have you retired and are feeling financial pressure and lack of motivation to do things? Or are you newly retired and still playing catch-up with your new identity?
That’s the thing, this new identity. No longer are you associated with your workplace or professional identity. Going from “Manager of 30 People for 35 Years” to “nothing” can be hard on the ego, especially for men.
Women seem to understand this idea of identity a little better. As women, we seem to embrace the variety of roles in our lives: mother, daughter, mentor, employee, homeowner, writer, jogger, etc.
Men seem to have fewer roles, with family breadwinner being the highest and most important role and identity. For many men, although the idea of retirement sounds delightful, in reality, those men absolutely fear this disassociation from work, a place they likely spent 30-40 years of their lives.
In our society, when meeting people for the first time, we intuitively ask the (socially constructed) question, “What do you do?” (read, what do you do for your work?). We answer, “I’m a teacher, or I’m a Forest Ranger,” etc.
How Do You Do?
To change this dynamic, I challenge anyone, not just retired folks, to answer this question regarding your leisure interests or hobbies. When someone asks, “What do you do?” You can answer “I’m a windsurfer, or I’m a blogger, or I’m a world traveler.” Exciting, huh?
I challenge my college students to this exercise when we get into the chapter about Work. It really opens their eyes, and we get into great discussions about the difficulty they felt trying to identify with a leisure pastime.
Wouldn’t you rather be identified by the things for which you have the most passion? If your work is your passion, then wonderful…you are lucky and fortunate. Most of us, however, are passionate about non-work pastimes.
Baby Boomers, both men and women, were raised to accept work culture as a priority and essentially invented workaholism. Those folks retiring now are having a tough time accepting it. As an example, I remember my former boss and his wife delaying their retirement for several years. She had health problems, but she felt indispensable at her job. He worked constantly and I valued his availability when I needed to solve a problem, but they fed into each other’s mantra of the “I’ll retire when YOU retire” merry-go-round.
They finally retired and are living their best lives. He was a recreation and parks practitioner and although he may not have practiced what he preached at work, he put those leisure planning skills to good use one he did retire!
Career Planning 101
That 16th century Puritan Work Ethic loves to rear its slightly-ugly head even now in the 21st century. Work was (is?) how we earn our place in life, home and Heaven.
After all, we spend the first 15 years of our lives getting ready for a career. In grade school, we were often asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” An astronaut, a bus-driver? A school-teacher? Etc.
By middle school, we took classes to prepare for high school success, and once in high school decided on our future curriculum for college or vocational school. Four to six years later? We landed our dream job and went to work for the next 30-40 years.
If we are fortunate, we expect to retire from this career-focused life by age 65-70, which seems to be getting later if social security is any indication.
No wonder our identities are in crisis!
So What DO You Do?
As a person who retired in 2014 from a 35-year career in public parks and recreation (never got as high on the food chain as Leslie Knope), I was ready to leave. But since I also teach as a part-time university lecturer in the parks and recreation major, continuing to teach two to three classes per semester is not really “retired.”
(ARE you ready GIF)
But I sure love my Januarys and summers off!
What does a semi-retired person do all day? I can only share my example. I still can’t help but quantify my day and schedule my activities.
Every day of the week, I exercise, whether it’s self-directed cardio or participating in a class at the gym, walking the dogs, or engaging in a water sport.
During the Fall and Spring semesters, I am on campus for a few hours, two to three days a week. Mostly I work from my home office in my glorious master bedroom addition.
A teacher’s work is never done. I spend time in the summer preparing course and classroom content for the coming Fall semester. My department has asked that I begin teaching a new (to me) class, so I must start the process of preparing the curriculum for that. With three Fall classes looming, I spend three to four hours per week all summer prepping and even answering a few e-mails. This is definitely a passion I can sustain for ten more years!
Writing and Blogging
Writing a blog has opened several writing opportunities. I do some freelance writing for my brother-in-law’s fashion accessories business. I am writing this guest post, among others. I wrote and self-published my first eBook, Better Blogging with Photography last July 2016, and am writing furiously on my next book No Excuses Fitness. I only have a few short weeks before I begin teaching again, so the bulk of the writing has GOT to GET done—no excuses!
Leisure Where Art Thou?
I have to admit, that I enjoy playing a game or two on my tablet, or turning on the TV to check the news and weather. Most of my early mornings are spent in this fashion with my coffee. By 8 am I eat breakfast then head out the door for whatever exercise regimen I have planned. Hubby gets home from work by 3:30 pm, so I try to have the bulk of my “work” done by then. Frequently though, I’m still plugging away on the next day’s blog post or prepping the image for it, when he walks into the bedroom ready to chat.
During summer weekends, I am on my husband’s work schedule. He works Tuesday through Saturday with Sundays and Mondays off until Labor Day weekend. By early Saturday afternoon, I have the ice chest packed and everything else ready for the weekend at the Delta. Link Windsurfing is my hubby’s passion. I enjoy it too, but being good at it helps…I’m OK, but get bruised and beaten up.I always look forward to the non-windy days when I can stand-up paddle!
As Boomers redefined work, so have they redefined retirement.
Apparently semi-retired people ramble. Sorry. I earned it though, right? So did you, if you are retired. What floats your boat? Or what color is your parachute? Or….I know there is another cliché somewhere!
Images used by permission from Unsplash.
From Retirement Reflections – Thank you to Terry for her great questions and very thought-provoking post. I will have the pleasure of meeting up with Terri, and a couple of other bloggers, shortly. I can’t wait! And, boy, do I ever have a pile of questions for them!! Up next week, all the way from her daughter’s wedding in Fiji, is Debbie from Deb’s World. Her direct quote about this guest post running the same weekend as this big event was: “I look forward to responding to all the hundreds of comments from beside the pool.” Please join us next week and help fulfill that wish. See you then!