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Free Time In Retirement

I thought retirement would mean more free time, more leisure, and having fewer things to do. In fact, I was warned about boredom in retirement. Though I enjoy a lot more freedom during retirement, I don’t feel that I’m any less busy. The difference is that I really enjoy this business which I didn’t anticipate.

I have been fortunate to have a few pastimes that keep me busy such as writing, reading, pool, bouldering, biking, and cooking which is why I was less worried about boredom in retirement.

But man, free time is not a luxury of retirement. It’s so easy to full up your days that you go from one Sunday to the next and wonder how the days went by so quickly.

So what happened with all the free time in retirement that I was promised?

I’m just being a sensationalist, of course. It’s a wonderful problem to have. In this post I want to share with you why I’m such a busy bee. So busy in fact that I am using the Calendly platform to schedule my days.

Retiring Young

I suspect that when you retire young, you are interconnected enough within your society that it’s easy to get involved in lots of different projects. Perhaps the same is true when you retire at an older age but I’ll discuss that more in the next section.

Even though I am busy, I don’t feel rushed. I can take the time to engage someone in a conversation and meet with people I would normally not have time to meet with during my working days.

By volunteering and doing some income-generating work I am able to meet new people who share similar work interests. It’s wonderful to hear about their side projects and sometime such things lead to collaborations which I’ve really enjoyed.

Retiring At An Older Age

Retiring in our 50’s or 60’s can make it a little tougher, though not impossible, to make connections with new people. I say this because I am witnessing how much harder it is to make new friends as I’m getting older.

The young people are the ones running around with a ton of energy, lots of ideas, and enthusiasm. I’m mostly drawn to such individuals at this stage in my life and I suspect that if I was 60 I might not be able to match energies quite as well.

I don’t mean to offend anyone in that older age group, but I am witness to how ageism kills the spirit of such individuals in our society.

Nothing Works Out As Planned

Back in the day if things weren’t working out according to plan it was stressful. If I didn’t get the house in the location I wanted then that meant a longer commute.

And if the home renovations didn’t go to plan then that meant having to deal with another stressful situation; not to mention, the car breaking down, the leaking sink, or any drama with an insurance company or bank.

Now, it doesn’t matter much if something goes according to plan because my time and patience is so more plastic.

When things don’t go according to plan it means that new exciting and unexpected things happen. I might plan to go the HOA board meeting but instead get pulled into a conversation with my neighbor who wants to start a YouTube channel and collaborate with me on it.

Expose Yourself

I don’t want to bore you guys with all the different things I’m pursuing, you’d think I’m schizo. But the most fabulous thing about being retired is that I finally have the free time to get exposed to different things.

I first had to get over myself. I had to let my guard down, I had to stop looking at people as a hindrance and start seeing them as individuals with their unique battles before being able to connect with them.

During my working days I had gotten too caught up with my own struggles. It wasn’t intentional but that made it much harder for me to connect with others and made me miss out on all the wonderful exposures I could have enjoyed.

The thought of leisure was an obstacle and not something pleasant to look forward to.

One connection leads to another and to another and finally to something really interesting. That’s probably why I have 6 different projects running all at once.

To start that cycle it’s helpful to reach out to someone. Help them with something. Then repeat for another person. It becomes a cycle and when it’s your turn, you’ll have 7 people lined up ready to help you just as readily and genuinely as you did.

Free Time In Retirement

So, there is no such thing as free time in Retirement for me but freedom of time – I absolutely love it. All the boredom I was warned about, it hasn’t happened. The loneliness and lack of stimulation, I haven’t experienced it yet.

The best way to explain the paradox of lack of free time and enjoyment is that your time is taken up by more meaningful things. Enjoying leisure no longer makes you feel guilty or lazy.

Kudos to you if you love your job and love going into work, interacting with your colleagues, etc. But if the day comes that you are ready to hang up your stethoscope and put away that speculum, don’t fear retirement.

The first year when I retired I wasn’t quite sure what to do and it was hard to find a direction. When I finally gave up my mission of controlling things, the path ahead opened up and it became so much more fun and interesting.

Trying Different Things

I used to be a very patient and kind person before starting my path to becoming a doctor. Medicine didn’t make a bad person though perhaps more calloused. Maybe that’s what happens when your leisure disappears or you fell guilty enjoying leisure.

I focused my time in retirement on enjoying the things I used to enjoy as a kid such as baking, playing, reading, and having fun with friends.

After all the relocations we do as healthcare professionals, it’s easy to lose our physical friends. I joined gyms and chatted up anyone who had similar interests as myself in order to make new physical friends.

I have since picked up new hobbies and tried to say yes to as many experiences as possible. I may have no burning desire to write for a local newspaper but it’s the connections you make during that process and the things you learn which help answer those burning questions in your skull.

I also urge anyone who is in my situation to ignore those burning questions. Let them linger in the back of you mind and remain active. Write them down if it helps you but realize that the more you do, the more you expose yourself, the more questions get answered. After a while you’ll forget the questions.

But Avoid Commitments

The surest way to not have the time you need in retirement is to stretch yourself too thin with commitments. Saying no is important and no really does mean no.

I’ve been pressed quite a few times and even told that because I’m retired I should be more flexible and do xyz. But let your loved ones know that you value your free time which is why you worked so hard to obtain it.

Most individuals are understanding when you explain that you will help them or collaborate on a project but that you won’t be able to commit.

Some may be put off by this and it’s helpful to explain that you are involved in multiple projects and would like things to take a natural course and commit your time to the things in which you are most effective.

Leisure

When I was in high school I remember how great it was to get home and play video games. But I was even more excited to get out with my friends Jeff and Reza and play tennis, basketball, and go mountain biking.

The ultimate summer for me was having as much time to play outside as possible. That was and still is my definition of leisure – having free time to do what I want.

Leisure can also be lounging. Some individuals have such busy minds that they have little extra energy to be involved in projects. My mom is a lounger – super chill. Her perfect pastime is watching her movies and listening to music on her laptop; good for her!

5 replies on “Free Time In Retirement”

Seems you’ve settled into a happy routine in your early retirement, Dr. Mo. Glad to hear things are working out so well for you. Learning to say “No” is a skill I’ve slowly been learning prior to retirement. No need to fill up the days with what everyone else would like you to do.

Cheers!
-PoF

My dad joined boards and committees when he retired early. He stepped away from some recently, and is focusing on opportunities literally closer to home. He may be retired but that doesn’t mean he really wants to spend an hour in the car each way to go to a monthly meeting. He’s said he’s still up for attending events to support the groups / organizations, he just doesn’t feel the need to be on the planning committee for it. He has a weekly or bi weekly lunch with some former coworkers too. Getting some social time in, not just volunteering. In my opinion the best part of him not having full time work is being able to meet up with my siblings on their week day off for lunch. I’m looking forward to FIRE some day to be able to do lunches with friends and family too. 🙂
Keep kicking butt Dr. Mo!

I am very nervous I will be bored in retirement. I have no friends, no family.
Work has been my whole life. I’ve never had the desire to volunteer. I am still
working just to occupy my time. I am a doctor also. Advise appreciated. Age 62.

Retirement isn’t mandatory and many physicians retire in their 90’s. BUt if you feel the urge to want to cut back on work eventually then you’ll have that free to issue to wrangle. I don’t know how your life runs now but when you aren’t in a rush to get to work then everything takes so much longer to do – in a nice way. You get up later, you make & have breakfast for 2 hours. You got for a 1 hour walk. Come home, take a nap or read something or watch or listen to something. Then you make lunch and clean up the house, maybe do some exercising. Before you know it it’s time for dinner and you’ll got to sleep much sooner than you normally would if you don’t have anything pressing going on.
Even if you don’t have any hobbies now there is probably something you were interested in as a child which you might pick up again at this age or you might just enjoy learning more medicine and spending you time on a website like figure1.com or reddit.com/r/askdocs.

I don’t know if I’d retire from medicine if I enjoyed it – not sure if that’s your situation or you just have gotten accustomed to working. Nothing wrong with still working in retirement. But also nothing wrong with changing things up in retirement. Maybe doing some virtual medicine or working just 2 days a week.

Making friends, never too late for that. I’m sure there is another person your age near you who doesn’t quite know yet how to spend their days. Play backgammon together at the park.

Maybe you’ve had a business idea all your life or a book you wanted to write. If you have the free time in retirement it would be fun to dedicate your time to something like that. The hardest part is learning to structure your free time to get things done in retirement.

If it’s still hard to fathom retirement and tackling free time then I’d say spend 5-6 sessions with someone who can get to know you slowly and help you come up with some more ways which are unique to you. And help you identify your own personal obstacles and hurdles.

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