What’s So Challenging About Retirement?

When Donna offered me the opportunity to participate in her Sunday Blogging Series, I jumped at the chance. I have been following Retirement Reflections for quite a while and I always find her posts smart, thoughtful, and wonderfully engaging. Having the chance to mingle with others who follow her – some who I may not have met yet – sounded like a lovely way to spend a Sunday.

Donna’s goal for her series is to create a forum for Retirement/Lifestyle bloggers to introduce themselves to others who are – or will be soon – enjoying the retired life. Since I had my three-year retireversary just a few weeks ago, I thought it would be interesting to re-introduce myself to my earlier posts and discover what has changed for me over the three years… and what hasn’t.

I started my blog in the fall of 2013, several months before my retirement date. Back then, I was excited but also apprehensive about my upcoming radical change in lifestyle. What will I do all day? Will I be bored? Will my husband and I drive each other crazy? I was leaving a job that paid well and I enjoyed, I didn’t have any great “passion” that I was eager to pursue, and a lot of my friends were still working full-time. Yikes!

I have always enjoyed writing and I knew that I’d need to create my own opportunities once I stopped working. Starting a blog seemed like a good way to continue working on my writing skills, while also engaging with others who may be transitioning into retirement too. When the name Retirementally Challenged popped in my head, it seemed like a good description of my then-conflicted self.

As I started to re-read my pre-retirement posts, with all the angst and “what ifs” I was experiencing, I had an overwhelming desire to reach through my screen and pat my former self on the head with assurances that: “there, there, you’ll be just fine.” I also wanted to smack that same self upside the head and say: “stop overthinking it. You get to NOT WORK. That’s a good thing.”

Then, as I continued to read, I started to notice my post-retirement writing began to take a turn in tone. The posts filled with questions and uncertainties began to fade away, and were replaced by ones extolling the joys of retirement, sharing tales of our travels, and making general life observations. Last year, I started my (almost weekly) GratiTuesday posts to help me focus on maintaining an attitude of gratitude.
I still don’t have what I’d call a great passion but I’m OK with that. As I wrote in an earlier post, I have several “passion-ettes” and they keep me pretty busy. I enjoy photography, my husband and I are having fun traveling, and blogging has not only kept me writing, but has helped forge precious connections – most of them virtual, but some face-to-face – with bloggers around the world. Lately, I’ve started to get the urge to volunteer, find new clubs to join, and maybe even paint again. Who knows, I may add some of those pursuits to my list of “ettes.”

So, does the name of my blog still apply? The challenges I felt leading up to, and in the early part of my retirement, probably are typical for anyone making a big life change. Now, I’m happy to say, the challenges in my life are mostly positive and self-directed. My husband and I are at a sweet-spot in our lives where we have decent health, energy, and enthusiasm. We know we won’t feel like this forever, but we are taking advantage of it for as long as we can.

So, at this point in my journey, I’m still Retirementally Challenged… but in a very good way.
Retirementally Challenged


From Retirement Reflections – I have been a long time fan of RetirementallyChallenged. In fact, it is the first blog that I followed full-time when I retired. Janis possesses incredible insight and a wonderfully positive outlook. If you are not already a follower, I highly recommend that you check out her site. I know that you’ll find her affirming nature to be contagious, I definitely do!
Remaining in the same geographical region, up next week is Terri Webster Schrandt. Terri, not yet fully retired, shares with us “Some Days in the Life of an Almost Retired Person.” Again, you’ll find a fresh, energetic take on life that is guaranteed to renew your spirit. See you there!

100 Replies to “What’s So Challenging About Retirement?”

    1. Hi, Janis – Thank you so much for participating, and for linking this post to your blog. We haven’t even hit supper-hour here yet, and the stats for this post are already at the top of the charts! I am greatly enjoying hearing from our mutual blogging buddies, meeting new-to-me bloggers from your site, and introducing new-to-you bloggers from mine! 🙂

  1. Great post! Yes, there is a transition and remaking of identity when we leave our work selves behind. It’s an opportunity to be self-directed in life and take up new challenges that we choose.

    1. Hi, Kathy – Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out Janis post here. I agree that retirement offers fantastic opportunities to be self-directed and to take on new challenges. The old adage is certainly true, “There is so much to explore in retirement, I don’t know how I ever had the time to work”! (:

  2. Janis, You’ve made me wonder if I too will find a tone change if I look back at my earlier posts. Of course, my blogging started a full year after the retirement date, but I too recall many questions, angsts and uncertainties. Oh dear, I think I’m still often in that space… I’ve always been a slow starter! But I’m stealing your phase “maintain an attitude of gratitude” … and will continue to follow you in your more positive, enthusiastic, self-directed lifestyle. You’re always inspiring me! Pat
    Pat recently posted…Year 3 – Top 10My Profile

    1. Hi, Kate – I agree that you are entitled to have a few “ettes’ in your life. I’m going to rethink my list of upcoming possibilities with the ‘ettes’ option fully in mind!

  3. Passion-ettes: I love that! (Or passion-eyes as autocorrect would have it – they are probably nice too.) I can’t remember now who sent me in Janis’s direction, but I know it was because she had written something about libraries – probably a Gratituesday. Thank you to whoever that was.
    Anabel Marsh recently posted…Along the Icefields ParkwayMy Profile

    1. Don’t you just love autocorrect? It makes up its own new language! I remember Janis’s GratiTuesday post about Public Libraries (February 2016?). I had just begun following her. Janis’s positive and thoughtful nature in that post had me hooked!

    2. That’s what is so great about our blogging community! People with like interests or similar approaches to life just somehow gravitate towards each other. I think I found your blog, Anabel, because Lisa Dorenfest told me that you were a retired librarian. How great is that – one blogger who is sailing around the world points me to another blog written by someone across the Atlantic.
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  4. Janis, after twelve years of retirement, we feel that we are still in the “sweet spot” that you have discovered. Waking up with gratitude and always having something to look forward to keep us satisfied. We have run the gamut of hobbies and volunteer work and have narrowed our focus to include only those things (and people) that create genuine contentment in our lives. Sure, there days that are less than stellar, but that’s life. You may never discover your one true passion, but you will have lived. I enjoyed your very thoughtful post.

    Thank you Donna for hosting Janis. I look forward to reading your Blog.

    1. Hi, Suzanne – I found your comment to be very inspiring. Twelve years of retirement and still in the ‘sweet spot’. That is so encouraging to hear! I am off to check off your blog now.

    2. Hi Suzanne. I am glad to know the sweet spot has lasting power! The lovely aspect of retirement is feeling that you have the time and freedom to try out a few interests. If it clicks, great. If it doesn’t, just move on. Creating and sustaining genuine contentment is the key. It’s nice to always have something to look forward to… even if it’s a quiet day reading. I’m glad you found Donna’s blog. I know you will love it as much as I do.
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  5. Lovely post. I too don’t have any particular passion that I am pursuing. I just feel lucky that I am able to retire and enjoy life. I’m with you on the photography and travel ‘passionettes’

    1. Hi, Helen – Thank you so much for visiting Janis’s post here. I’m with you on being grateful to have the privilige to retire and enjoy life. I plan to make the most of every day.

    1. My pleasure, Jill! Both you and Janis have a very common (and very grateful) spirit in common. I believe that you will find each other’s posts truly inspiring.

  6. Hi Janis and Donna! I, too, love the idea of “passion-ettes” because there is a LOT of pressure on all of us to “follow our passion” and that in itself makes it seem like something challenging to do. By terming them passion-ettes it feels more fluid and fun. And may we all find LOTS to be grateful for as much as possible. Looking forward to reading where your passion-ettes lead you in the future. ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com recently posted…Four Life Lessons From Four Decades Of A Happy MarriageMy Profile

    1. Hi, Kathy – I fully agree with your simple wish that we all find much to be grateful for. I so look forward to our ‘blogging chat’ soon!!

    2. Hi Kathy! I hadn’t thought about the “fluid and fun” aspect, but you are right. I know people who have retired to a life of playing golf (their “Passion”) and they appear more stressed out than when they were working. My passion-ettes are keeping me just busy enough and, if they become stressful or are not fun anymore, I’ll just move on.
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  7. I love the photo of you Jan, and, of course, I love following your blog. I also love the term “passion-ettes”. No matter what we do when we “retire”, as long as we enjoy it and still push our boundaries out just a little bit or more for some of us! Keep learning and have fun, which you are doing!

    1. Hi, Suz – I agree that ‘passion-ettes’ is a fabulous term! I believe that some of us our a bit leery to go out there and commit to something big, especially after just retiring from something huge. ‘Passion-ettes’ is perfect, and far less daunting or constrictive. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. A really nice summation of both your blog and also your three year experience, Janice. I like the idea of your wanting to reassure the pre-retirement blogger you about all those fears that were percolating. I wish I had thought to start a blog prior to retiring; that was really a great idea. – Marty

    1. Hi, Marty – I don’t know what it is about my Spam Folder and you! Is it just my site, or have you done something to annoy the WP gods? 🙂
      Like you, I wish that I had started my blog the year before I began my retirement (which I honestly planned to, but work got in the way). Then I thought about starting my blog as soon as I actually retired….but that thought continued to get stuck in the ‘Too Hard Basket’ for the next six months. I would love to be able to read back on pre-retirement posts to review what I was actually thinking at the time. I agree that Janice had a great, insightful idea there!

    2. Hi Marty. You were Donna’s first contributor, right? Isn’t it great how many voices she has added to the chorus of retirees and nearly-retired. I started my blog to reassure myself… I hope my more positive posts now that I’m well into retirement reassures others contemplating making the plunge.
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  9. Janis, as someone just making the transition to retirement, your words really resonate: “stop overthinking it. You get to NOT WORK. That’s a good thing.” Before retiring, I felt so sad at the prospect of leaving my work identity behind. And now, only a few months later, I hardly even have a single thought about my past work life. There is such a wonderful feeling of openness and possibility.

    Dr Sock recently posted…Why the Angst About Retirement, Dr Sock?My Profile

    1. Hi, Jude – Being open to new possibilities in retirement is an attitude that makes an incredible difference. Thanks so much for stopping by to read Janis’ post here. And thank you so much for visiting last night. It is great to now have you as a neighbour!

    2. I loved reading about your transition (before, during, and after retirement), and am thrilled that everything is working out so well for you. The fact that you not only retired but pulled up roots and moved in a very short period of time is amazing. One or the other is a lot to adjust to – to do both is head-spinning.
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  10. 5 years now from the retirement of my ‘real’ job (or at least one I got paid for!), a 3000 mile move across the country, an environmental change from decidedly urban to just about as rural as you can get and not be a hermit, permanent sun in Southern California to all 4 distinct seasons in upstate New York, and an ultra high tech inner city hospital to shoveling pig poop. Changes. Yes, I’ve had a few. Regrets? None whatsoever. I also eased my transition to a place where I knew no one by becoming active at a local church and food pantry. I also entered the stomach churning world of politics and became the local Town Clerk. (I was unanimously elected, but ran unopposed.) After 4 years of that position, where I know almost literally everyone in town, I’m stepping down in December for my second retirement.
    Again having the same angst riddled questions of ‘what’s next.’ Loving life on our little ‘farm-ette’ even travel doesn’t hold the allure that it once did. So it’s a mystery. But that’s OK. I think I’m up for it. Thanks for all the insight from you bloggers. Love reading Janis’s blog, but then I’ve been a big fan of Janis far longer than any of you!

    1. Hi, Beth – Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing some of your story. From your short summary, you have experienced incredible changes. I LOVE your positive attitude and your openness to your next adventure. Do you have a blog? I’d love to read it!

    2. Hi Beth! As much as I miss having you around, your move to upstate New York was exactly the right one for you. Although I’m not envious of your winters (snow is pretty, but oh-so cold), I love the idea of living in a smaller town. Just as your stint in politics surprised me, I’m sure you’ll find something equally surprising – and satisfying – to do in your second retirement.
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  11. We have been so fortunate to have met Janis and Retirementally Challenged. It is always a pleasure to read her uplifting articles. We relied on her advice when we were traveling in her neck of the woods, and greatly appreciate the feedback she gives us on our blog posts.

    1. Hi, Joe – Thanks so much for stopping by. I too have been fortunate to meet Janis in person. I agree that both she and her blog are incredibly uplifting. Reading a RetirementallyChallenged post first thing in the morning is a great start to any day!

    2. Hi Joe! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      For anyone who hasn’t “met” Joe, you really need to pop over to his blog, monthatatimetravel.com, where he chronicles his travels with his wife. Because they stay at least a full month at each destination, they are able to really delve into the area they are visiting. They are currently in Mexico City and experienced the recent horrific earthquake. Well worth a read!
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  12. Janis, I love the concept of “passion-ettes!” I’ve been missing from the scene for the past few months, but reading your post makes me yearn for my blogging connections. Time to get to work. Thanks for the nudge!

    1. Welcome Back, Lynn – You have been GREATLY missed! Here is another nudge from me. I know that so many of us would love to hear from you at your blog again!

  13. Janis, Loved your post, as you know I’m already following you.
    I have been retired for 3 years and there is not much challenge to it anymore, it is the Best! I too, am taking advantage of my current decent health and trying to make the most of everyday! Life is great!

    1. Hi, Karen – I fully agree with your idea to take advantage of decent health (at any age) and to make the most of every single day. I love the title of your blog and am now very intrigued to check it out!

    1. Hi, Judy -Your comment makes an excellent prompt for discussion on which aspects of our retirement (or any stage in life) we have control over, which aspects we have strong influence on and which aspects are simply fate. You have me thinking!

  14. Hi Janis. I’m still working and looking down the road at the sign that says ‘stop here’, knowing I can move it, feeling excited about which turn-off I’ll take from it and worrying about when is too soon (financially). You and the commenter, above, all look too young to retire. Or is eternal youth the promise of the after-work.

    1. Hi Karen! I remember when making the decision to retire was difficult. I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave work and all the social networks it provided. And, of course, money is always the big unknown. Then my husband retired, and after watching him relax and have fun for two years without me, I decided to join him. We were fortunate to be able to retire a little before the “official” retirement age, but we saw too many people wait and then not be in good health enough to enjoy it.
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  15. Hi, Karen – I LOVED the stage of life that you are describing. I remember the excitement so vividly. The fact that my husband and I actually COULD discuss retirement. We could read the signs and CHOOSE from different turn-offs. It was equal parts exciting….and equal parts terrifying (especially the worry of outlasting our money)! Two years in, I remember that stage fondly…but love this current stage even more! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing here!

  16. Geez, I have to scroll for a mile to log my comment 😉 Janis and Donna! This post really resonated with so many folks and it should. Wise use of our leisure time (free time) is critical to our entire lifespan and retirement is no exception. Once retired, those passion-ettes are the stepping stones to a whole new world of ideas worth exploring! What an inspiring read!

    1. Hi Terri! When leisure time (evenings, weekends, and vacations) becomes full time, it’s so important to have interests and activities to be excited about. I think what you do to educate students about embracing – and encouraging others to embrace – time spent away from classrooms and offices is so important. I’m looking forward to your contribution to Donna’s Sunday Series next week!
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  17. Hi, Terri – I agree that Janis has a wonderful way of stirring up great conversation, as do you. I am looking forward to having your posts run back to back (great timing)! See you there!

  18. Hi Janis it is so lovely to meet you through Donna’s Sunday Series. I retired early to spend more time with my husband but it did take quite a while for me to get used to retirement life. You sound like you have found your sweet spot which is great and I enjoyed reading about you GratiTuesday and the way your blog has evolved. Lovely to connect and thanks again to Donna for introducing you to us.

    1. Hi, Sue – Thank you for stopping by to read Janis’s post. You and Janis share a positive outlook and a deep appreciation for life. I highly recommend her site to you. (BTW – You must be getting excited about your upcoming trip!)

    2. Hi Sue. I really appreciated the nudge to look back at my older posts that Donna’s Sunday Series gave me. Have you ever had the feeling (while looking at your own writings) that you were reading someone else’s words? Then I remembered how I was feeling back then. I much prefer what I’m experiencing now.

  19. Hi Janis,
    After reading the lengthy list of comments and responses, I almost forgot what I was going to say!
    It was that Retirementally Challenged is still the perfect name for your blog. I love the way you take on new challenges in your retirement – challenges that are fun for you, sure, but also that nudge both you and your readers into considering new thoughts, new actions, and new places.
    You’re a tremendous role model, Janis (you too, Donna!) for those of us transitioning from the angst-filled challenges of the early days of retirement to the fun-filled, learning-filled challenges of this next chapter.

    1. Hi, Karen – Thank you for your kind words (as always). You are right about ‘Retirementally Challenged’ being the perfect name for Janis’s blog. It was that name that first drew me to her site. I had been scrolling the internet to find blogs on retirement and saw Janis’s (from a long list). The title was clever, catchy and fun. After reading her first post, I was totally hooked!

    2. Thank you for your kind words. Sometimes I wonder if I really am a good role model since this whole retirement thing came so easy for me. I can honestly say that I have hardly looked back (except maybe when I need IT support and there isn’t anyone around). Although I really did like my job, I was never what you’d call a workaholic. Now, a dowhatIwantaholic might be a good description of me in retirement.
      Janis recently posted…What’s so challenging about retirement?My Profile

  20. Hi Janis! I really enjoyed your take on the last (and first) three years of your retirement. Looking back in time and at those earlier blogs must have been pretty interesting, and, like you said some of it affirming and some of it surprising. Having several kinds of little passions instead of a few major passions keeps one busy, entertained, happy and enlightened as well. Plus, it offers a very varied life.

    I’m glad you are feeling so good in your skin right now and, I’ve always loved the title of your blog! While you might become less retirementally challenged in the future, coming up with a better, more meaningful play of words will be difficult. Maybe playing with words, or writing poems or titles could become a new passion? You are so creative. Looking forward to hearing all about how the painting is going…
    Liesbet recently posted…Day Trips around Santa Fe, NM – Sandia Mountains, AlbuquerqueMy Profile

    1. Hi, Liesbet – I also greatly admire Janis’s creativity. And you may be on to something. There could just be a market for creating (or revamping) blog titles! If there is, I highly recommend Janis for the job! 🙂

    2. Hi Liesbet. Thanks for your kind words. I guess I’ve always like playing around with words. One of my passion-ettes is taking songs and changing the lyrics. We’ll see about the painting… it sounds like the perfect indoors winter activity.
      Janis recently posted…GratiTuesday: Funky TownMy Profile

  21. Janis, it’s encouraging to hear that you had some of the same anxieties I have about retirement, and that you are now happy with your decision. I still have about four years until I retire, but I’m already over-thinking what life will look like then. Through my blogging, I have realized that while I need to plan for retirement, I need to live in the present moment. I am heading over now to check out your blog.

    Christie Hawkes recently posted…Friday favorites: special birthday edition!My Profile

    1. Hi, Christie – One of my favourite things about this little corner of the blogosphere is that it is filled with great people who are equally willing to share and to learn from each other. As many of us are currently at different stages in our ‘retirement journey’ that helps us to get new information where we need it and view some of our challenges with fresh eyes. It also helps us to remember previous steps of our journey that we had forgotten over time. Thank you for stopping by to read Janis’s post. I look forward to featuring your post in three weeks time!

    2. Hi Christie! I think anyone who isn’t feeling some anxiety before a huge life change is either fooling themselves or isn’t putting enough thought into the transition. Even though it is possible to over-think things until you are a nervous mess, it can be fun to picture some of the joys and adventures you will experience once you are free to do them. Blogging is a great way to work through your process and share your thoughts with others.

      I’m glad to read that you will take part in Donna’s series in a few weeks.
      Janis recently posted…GratiTuesday: Funky TownMy Profile

    1. Hi, Lisa – You are lucky to have known about Janis’s blog from the start. I only discovered in in early 2016….but I quickly did tons of back-reading and was totally hooked. I agree that it is amazing that it took me so long to find your blog. Scrolling through the lists of commenters on your blog we have many, many mutual friends! Going forward, I plan to be a solid follower.

    2. Hi Lisa! This comment section is turning into a love fest! All my best blogging friends are here and I’m meeting some new best blogging friends. How great is that? I’m glad to introduce you to Donna… you’ll love her too.

      My husband and I have been watching the amazing Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam and, of course, Hanoi plays a large role. How times have changed, huh? I hope you will post more of your glorious pictures and thoughtful insights soon!
      Janis recently posted…GratiTuesday: Funky TownMy Profile

    1. Hi, Debbie – I’m glad to know that you are already a follower of Janis’s blog. It is cool to discover who follows who in the blogging world!
      You are right, Janis is an outstanding model of being grateful for all that retirement offers. Reading her blog always refreshes my spirits.

    2. Hi Debbie! We truly are in the sweet spot and hope to stay here forever (OK, I’m a bit in denial about this whole aging process). I just realized that I am missing your terrific posts because I don’t use the WordPress Reader. Do you offer an email alert option to follow (I may have missed that button… it’s been known to happen 🙂 )?
      Janis recently posted…GratiTuesday: Funky TownMy Profile

    1. Hooray for Janis (again)! I just checked your ‘About Me’ (errr, I mean ‘Who is this Blogger, Anyway’) page, and was super excited about what I saw. I have already added myself to your list of followers. I can’t wait to read more!

  22. I really enjoy reading how other people take to retirement and what their fears may be and what they are looking forward to the most. I’m very glad that we all seem to be different in our approaches to retirement, Janis. And, I often wonder where I would be if I had not started to blog shortly after I retired. I don’t know if you know the movie ‘Sliding Doors’ but, to me, it’s like one of those moments. Do I really want to know given that I’ll never find out anyway? 🤔
    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences of retirement so far.
    Hugh Roberts recently posted…Thursday Doors: – 28th Sept 2017 #photographyMy Profile

    1. Hi, Hugh –
      Great minds think alike. I was reflecting on ‘Sliding Doors’ yesterday!
      I also love reading and hearing about different approaches to retirement (including how people emotionally prepare for their retirement, how they transition, and what their lives look like when fully immersed in retirement).
      Right now I’m living the retirement cliche “How did I ever have time to work?” I’m hoping for a less active, ‘loafing and puttering’ segment soon. And I promise to get that Guest Post to you by the 3rd week of October! 🙂

      1. Exactly, Donna. Where on earth did I find the time to work full-time? 🤔 Whatever happens, we should all keep ourselves busy during our retirement years. I know a few people who seem to have melted away once they retired, but only because they chose to sit in front of the TV all day. Still, if that’s what they want to do, then so be it. But when they say “Retirement is boring”, I have to bite my lip.
        Hugh Roberts recently posted…Thursday Doors: – 28th Sept 2017 #photographyMy Profile

    2. Hi Hugh. What an interesting comment! I am familiar with that movie and it is so true that our current situations could be so much different if we had turned left rather than right, or taken the stairs rather then the elevator, at specific times of our lives. My path towards retirement started many, many years ago and required a myriad of choices along the way. Probably the most impactful outside influence on my decision to retire – and biggest contributor to my happiness in retirement – was my husband. And, of course that leads to a whole other “sliding door” unknown… what if I hadn’t gone to my dance lessons on the day that I met him?
      Janis recently posted…Rightsizing in Place Using S.P.O.T. GoalsMy Profile

    1. Hi, Pam – Thank you so much for stopping by to visit Janis’s post here. I agree that it was a very fun read! Up tomorrow is another blogging friend of yours, Terri Webster-Schrandt. 🙂

  23. I loved this post and have to say that ‘Retirementally Challenged’ is still one of the cleverest blog titles I’ve come across! Reading through all the comments, it’s amazingly clear to me that, just as the baby boomers have defined so many of the social attitudes in the last decades, we are taking this golden stage called retirement and redefining it as well! Kudos to both of you Janis and Donna!

    1. Hi, Anita – Thank you so much for stopping by to visit Janis’ post here. I agree that ‘RetirementallyChallenged’ is a very clever blog title. I love your blog title as well…and am off to visit your site now!

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