Filling the Void

A number of times, I’ve had friends who are not yet retired wonder what they will do with their days when they are not working. They really cannot imagine a future without work.   For many of them this is filling 55-60 hours/week or more (yes, they are workaholics like I was)…. that is over 3300 minutes every week. That’s a big void to fill and a lot more than a round of golf, a game of tennis, or cooking healthier dinners.

This blog post captures things I added to my life since retiring and a little bit on things I tried that didn’t work out (exploration and experimentation is good).   It’s a good time for me to review this because I am feeling a void in my life again and this review will be helpful to energize me in filling that void! Quite a few of the things I’ve added in creating my retirement lifestyle, things I love to do, are now not possible with Covid-19 social distancing.  There has been a loss of rituals and rhythms. And I’ve also noticed a resurgence in my “Someday Syndrome” – the “I’ll do it someday” thinking.  Once again, like when I retired, I need to figure out what’s next for my life.

For me, when I retired I needed to replace work conversations, I needed to boost (OK, start a program for) my physical health, I needed to figure out where to get a sense of achievement, and I definitely needed structure. I had to learn also what were my real desires versus the societal expectations (still a work in progress) and I needed to learn to slow down and just be.

This new void is not the 55+ hours void, but a big enough one that I need to encourage myself to explore new things. I need to find focus, stop mindless social media scrolling, and cease endless YouTube watching. And it’s helpful to remember that I tried quite a few things that didn’t work out – I really need to have that try-it mindset again.

  • Things I added to my life (that stuck!)
    • Daily movement – Yoga, Zumba, Walk & Talks with friends, biking in Florida
    • Activities devoted to my Love of Words – journaling, blogging, crossword puzzles, scrabble game play, creative writing classes, book publication, reading
    • Activities linked to my interest in the Arts: Playhouse philanthropy with Leading Ladies; additional live theater subscription (10+ shows a year – half were date nights with dinner); art classes; regularly going to craft shows, art walks and art galleries
    • Activities that build on my Epicurean Interests: created a Dining Out Foodie Club, explored meal delivery services, took cooking boot camp plus a string of other cooking classes, regular food boutique shopping
    • New Things Tracking to encourage me to “say yes” to opportunities, as well as explore different classes, new restaurants, and fun things to do (lots of new experiences).
  • Things I tried that didn’t work out long term:
    • Consulting project work
    • Life Coaching
    • Antique Dealer
    • Tennis (took lessons)
    • Scooter-ing (I did get the motorcycle license)
    • Grant writing (took courses)

So, what is next, given the limitations of social distancing? Take a deep breath and set some plans in place:  I will explore some new things from my Possibilities List).  I will take a hard look at the “someday I will” things and plan out initial steps. I will replace date nights, plan some (safe) day trips, and decide what to learn about (on-line) next.

Do you feel like there is a void in your life with Covid-19 social distancing requirements?

21 thoughts on “Filling the Void

  1. Hi, Pat – This is a very wise and thought-provoking post. When working long hours, it’s hard to imagine what retirement life will look like long term. Indeed, retirement and retirement transition are different for each of us. I love your lists of what stuck for you and what didn’t. This is such candid and honest data for your newly retired friends to see. Before I retired, I was sure that I would spend much time researching my family tree. Nah, that didn’t stick at all. When I worked, I would have bet against me blogging in retirement. So, it really is hard to know. But the adventure and endless possibilities are very invigorating! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, I laughed at the family tree thing. I finally dropped a few of the “when I retire projects” on my lists. For me it was super helpful to realize that I can try things on (again) and see what sticks (now). And it’s OK if some things don”t!


  2. I am feeling a bit of a void, Pat. One of the comments I read on this post included the word “ennui.” That’s a perfect description of how I’ve been feeling. I will say my husband and I went on a beautiful walk this morning, and I felt grateful and energized in that moment. That’s probably a clue to what I need–more physical activity and more nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christie, isn’t that a great word!

      We just came down to our Florida house and I do spend much more time outdoors here. The key now is to boost my own physical activity as well, because you are so right – it’s what I need as well. I thought the other day… start as you mean to go on…. eating, hydrating, sleeping, and spending time outdoors…but now I need to add in physical activity!


  3. I’ve been feeling a void lately too. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve been retired for 6+ years, of if it’s this pandemic we are all dealing with. Since we can’t make plans – travel or otherwise – there is less to look forward to. I do know that I need to get out of the house (including our yard) more. Now that the kids are back in school now (whatever that looks like), things should be less crowded during the week.

    I did write a short story which I am now publishing on my blog. Hopefully there will be more creative writing inspirations in the future. My (Zoom) writers workshop is starting up again soon so I’m looking forward to that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, I started getting out and doing some walk & talks with girlfriends (parks with wide paths) and it really did help. We just came down to Florida and am wondering how things will shape up here. Locally folks are much less careful about social distancing, so will see how things progress. I will be signing up for another on line class for sure as well.


  4. I wrote a just-retired friend recently and remarked to him how the first year of my retirement was the absolute best. Just like brand new car smell, you relish each day for all the opportunities. After sending it to him, though, I had to wonder how much of that he’ll be able to personally grasp given all the Covid restrictions.

    Your post hits home for me, Pat, because I’m fighting quite a bit of ennui at the moment. I do hope it’s temporary. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that word… ennui. A recently retired friend (1 year) is feeling like her retirement was completely blown up as everything she put into place can no longer be done. I think having had a bit longer at figuring things out, and more ups and downs, it’s not quite as jarring. But yeah, I think everyone is dealing with a bit of ennui!!


  5. Honestly, I’ve been lazy as hell for 5 weeks now and I’m just starting to get the thought that I’m ready to do something-not sure what at the moment. That said, I’ve done a TON of reading, I weed my garden, I’ve done some garden harvest/food preservation and I cook 2 meals a day (hubster working from home and kindly does dishes).

    I have no idea what is next…………and I’m at peace with that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Elle, Thanks for joining the conversation. I think it’s lovely that you are at peace with not knowing. The planner in me would never allow that sense of peace! ( I spent hours today doing weeding, too!)


  6. Hi Pat, your posts always resonate! While I’m not yet completely back in the void I felt shortly after retiring, I certainly miss the regular personal activities that were part of my retirement life and really enjoyed — exploring new food markets, shops, even using the gym, but most of all those visits with friends and family that were a big priority in my retirement and that I’ve had to put on hold as others have — the ladies night cocktails with my friends, sister lunches, family gatherings, etc. I’m grateful that I’ve adjusted my life inward more since retiring to still feel purposeful and not yet feel that feeling of the void, although missing the personal connections and fun that come with them. I do remind myself it’s temporary — although it will not go away quickly. Thanks for your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judi, thanks for joining in the conversation and I’m so glad my words often resonate with you. I find it’s helpful to know I’m not alone in my feelings. And another person who loves exploring food markets! We’re at our Florida residence and I’m definitely going to miss going to those markets … Florida is not great with mask wearing and the markets are small and tight. I miss farmers markets too. I know it is temporary…and won’t we appreciate so many things more going forward?


  7. Definitely there is a void in my life. Newly retired too, so there’s that. Still getting used to my new life, which I have to say I just love. I have signed up for some online courses starting this fall, and am currently doing a MOOC on Indigenous Canada. That is satisfying my yearly end of summer back-to-school itch. I would have preferred courses in an actual classroom, but am also really glad that they are being offered through Zoom.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, I am definitely signing up for another course. We just had a couple of crazy weeks – moving my SIL, shifting location for a couple of months (spending time in our future home!)… but I’ve picked a new series of classes to take. And I’m trying to stay open to other (on-line) opportunities too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I most definitely feel a void. It really hit me this month with the loss of two planned girl’s weekends (two different groups of friends) and a vacation trip to Ohio for tennis, meeting husband’s relatives, baseball, and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. We’ve had one concert postponed and one canceled. We’re no longer planning to visit Tim’s mom in Arizona for Thanksgiving. It stinks. It’s also made managing a complicated situation with my parents even more complicated, requiring more time. While I haven’t lacked for things to do, they aren’t the things that give me pleasure. My creative side is suffering. But I am focused now on getting myself healthier, at least until the next crisis!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thinking my void will increase when the fall “seasons” of activities don’t start – no theater, no classes, no trips (very much miss seeing my mom!!). Early on I left activities on the calendar with “cancelled” … I stopped doing that as it kept making me more unsettled. I like your comment about not enough things on the calendar that give me pleasure…I’m thinking I need to add more of them… but not food related. I’ve avoided the “Covid-10” weight gain so far.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Pat – definitely!! I thought I was managing this unexpected retirement gig really well, but the last few months seem to have unsettled me (hence last week’s post) and I’m not sure what to do to redirect myself. I’ve had lots of “helpful” suggestions, but I think I need to just sit back and wait until the right inspiration presents itself – patience was never my strong suit – but I’m working on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I saw a post today that talked about “living with the questions” – Basically allowing the answers to come when they are meant to come. For me, I keep thinking (hoping) volunteer work will come when it’s the right thing for me. Sometimes I think it’s not “waiting” as much as watching for the right signs…being aware of what you want and watching for it to manifest.


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