The day will be here soon, or perhaps it has already arrived. You wake up in the morning, just as you’ve been doing for years, but today you have no place to go and nothing to do.
Were your friends correct when they said you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself once you retired? When they said you’d get bored and be back in six months? It doesn’t have to be that way. You had a very successful career and you can have a very successful retirement if you approach both in the same way.
Before I retired my friends would remind me of what a workaholic I was because of the long hours I worked. They told me that my job was my life and without it I’d be lost. To some extent they were right; I did give my job everything I had, but one reason was so that I could retire early. I did just that at the age of 55.
As I approached retirement I thought about what my friends and coworkers had said, and I knew they were right. By putting my life into my job, I had postponed a lot of the things I’d wanted to do. Some of the goals were simple, such as traveling more, but some of my plans were much more difficult to achieve, like recording a CD and writing a book. And of course I wanted to spend more time with the family and get into better shape. I had a long list.
I’m sure you had a to-do list at work, including daily things you had to do like attend meetings and send and read email. Maybe there were the things you did on a monthly basis like reports and budgets, and of course there were the annual tasks such as performance reviews. When I sat down to make my retirement to-do list, I approached it the same way I’d done at work. I had daily activities like email, social media updates, and finances. I had weekly items such as Italian and piano lessons. And I had longer-term projects like recording a music CD and writing a book.
We’ve all postponed some of the things we’ve wanted to do in our life as work and raising a family took priority. Now is the time to bring those things back to the forefront. What have you always wanted to learn? How to speak a foreign language or play a musical instrument? You have the time now. Where have you always wanted to go? Start making plans.
Don’t hold back. This is your time. Make that list and don’t leave anything off, no matter how ridiculous the idea might seem. My list included singing. As a kid I always thought I would be a professional singer someday, but the fact is a lot of people can sing and it’s a very hard way to make a living. Now that I’m retired, I don’t have to make a living at it. I can just do it for fun. Four years into retirement, I’ve released three CDs and written six songs. It has been a blast.
So whether you’re approaching retirement—or even if you’re already retired—sit down and make that list. What are all the things you’ve put off? Where do you want to go? What do you want to learn? Who do you want to help? How do you want to give back? Who do you want to reconnect with? Whatever it is, you now have the time. So get started, but most of all have a good time. You’ve earned it.
George A. Santino helps people who want to break down barriers, including self-imposed barriers, to success. Check out his new book Get Back Up: From the Streets to Microsoft Suites which was an Amazon bestseller. For more information go to georgeasantino.com.