Joy in an Empty Calendar?

Learning the joy of an empty calendar is not easy.   Busy is a sign of worthiness, a sign of being needed and wanted, a sign of achievement and success.   I found that a completely empty calendar just made me feel worthless, adrift, and unhappy.   On a recent trip to our beach cottage, this was highlighted this for me.   Our normal warm weather activities were curtailed by cooler, windier than expected weather. I had days on end of empty calendar – absolutely nothing planned.  And I felt adrift again, like my early days of retirement transition.


I learned:

– I need to find the right balance between structured-scheduled activities and go-with-the-flow freedom. Will I ever find joy in a completely empty calendar? No. But a couple days of freedom a week feels quite nice.


– I need to learn to slow down – find the positive in stillness, engage fully in the present, allow time for introspection, and surrender to serendipity.  Look at an empty calendar as an opportunity to savor the slowness.


– I need to watch out on freedom days – not allow passive timewasters to take over that free time. Don’t let free time turn into mindless TV watching, blog surfing, and the FB black hole.


– I need to challenge myself on what the activities are that make the schedule. Scheduling activities and being busy is easy. Are the things I am busy doing making me happy? Stimulating my mind? Activating my vision?


This year’s resolution is “Find joy in each day”. Details of this now means:

  • Savoring the slowness. Being OK with just sitting and watching the waves on the beach. Taking a walk and enjoying the scenery. Stopping for a coffee or a drink and just sitting. Talking with a neighbor.
  • Having a less rigid schedule. Being OK to move a task to tomorrow, or the next day if something else comes up.  Enjoy the free days.
  • Only checking email and FB once (OK, twice) a day. Not every hour.
  • Doing things for the experience of doing them.   Take pleasure in the doing and not the outcome.
  • Every day do one small thing that moves me forward on my life vision – even if it’s not scheduled (write, go outdoors, shop for healthy food, etc.).


How do you feel with an empty day on your schedule?


Picture credit: Pixabay

8 thoughts on “Joy in an Empty Calendar?

  1. I enjoy reading about your thoughts and experiences as you transition through retirement. In some ways you are ahead of me since I am not yet empty nested. Also I guess I’m actually only semi-retired since I’m contracting part-time at my former employer. So working through an empty calendar is in my future.


    1. Maureen, I found out recently the government definition of retirement is just 2 things. Working less than full time (40 hours/week is full time) and getting income from some pension or pension-like source (Social Security, Pension, IRA, etc). It seems that more than 50% of people in “retirement” are working part time! And lots of retirees have children, grandchildren and/or aging parents as part of their households. The vision of a no-work, empty nest is just not the reality of retirement for the majority of people! A new perception of retirement is needed.


  2. An empty calendar is a sign you are available. Available to others without making time, available for the whims of life that occur during your day, available for emergencies, real or perceived that may pop up during the day. Being available for fun or disaster.


  3. Today, an empty calendar day is a bit of a dream. Doesn’t happen very often. We do have what we call “no demands days” now and then, but when I get to early retirement in a few weeks – we’ll see!


    1. On my FB post, someone commented that in retirement your calendar is now 100% your own…. no one is “scheduling you” into meetings. You think you make choices at MegaCorp, but you really just meet expectations with all the meetings you “need to be at”. Now, you get to choose what goes on every week. So an empty or full calendar is now by choice. An interesting perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

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