There is a rhythm that runs through your days. Your personal rhythm is almost second nature in how you manage your daily life. After 30+ years of working, it can be a bit choppy and chaotic, but there is still a daily rhythm. You don’t need to think about waking, eating, working, commuting, and maybe, like me, working some more. You know how to handle the regular chaos of working, the blips of commuting, and the managing of not enough sleep. When life dramatically changes in retirement, everything is different – you need to create a new daily rhythm.
Life is lived one day at a time. And most days are ordinary life days. It was creating the ordinary, from scratch, that was one of the most challenging things in my retirement transition. An ordinary that had to replace more than 55 hours each week.
Luckily I had the financial security element well in-hand for retirement… although external economic factors tend to create worry about that on a regular basis. The challenge was in dealing with the psychological factors (identity, competence, structure, stability, social connectivity, purpose) that goes into a having a daily life rhythm.
For 50+ years others had dictated my life. Parents, school, bosses, and societal expectations controlled me and established my daily rhythm. I was expected to learn, achieve, and advance. And since I was the good girl, I met those expectations.
In retirement, I needed to move beyond societal expectations. Societal expectations at this point include being a doting grandma, happy to be doing volunteer work, traveling as your heart desires, and maybe working part-time or actively engaged in your passion area. I’m not a grandma (or a ma), am struggling with volunteering being meaningful, have had to acknowledge hubby is a homebody, and have yet to define a passion area. I want to, I need to, establish my own expectations.
Retirement is an opportunity to unapologetically try new things, expand my horizons, or even just bask in the glow of what I have accomplished. It’s the time to reinvent myself, find the true me, and possibly try things I felt I’ve missed out on. So even though my transition has had a couple of major derailments (a solidly made plan dissolving at the last minute; breast cancer diagnosis), I have focused on creating a new daily, almost ordinary, life pattern, one that allows me to live the me I want to be.
How am I doing this? I spent time:
- Clarifying my values separate from societal expectations; understand when things are really just “shoulds” from others and not really my own desires, and then deciding to not do them. This has required me to come to terms with working – To work or not to work? What is right for me? And volunteering – Is it just a societal should or true personal value?
- Broadening my range of interests to find passion areas. Trying-on some things, some of which are sticking (yoga! Zumba! blogging!) and some have just been fun to try (pottery, cooking classes, spirit guides). And learning to be OK with “downtime”…days of relaxing and reading.
- Investing in relationships with intentional action steps to become a better friend.
- Building healthy living habits.
- Being physically active every day (or most days).
- Creating healthier eating habits.
- Practicing positivity via journaling, emotional awareness, and use of affirmations.
- Appreciating what I have. Living with an attitude of gratitude.
Life is not a highlight reel. Life is everyday living – the mundane, the errands, the moments of joy, the moments of quiet. Retirement transition is finding a new ordinary, daily rhythm that becomes second nature. Mine is not fully there yet; some days it feels second nature and some days I wonder if it ever will.
Have you found a new daily rhythm in retirement?
Picture Credit: Elephant Stroll – Tim Doyle, Africa Safari, 2017