Planning Retirement …. How Do I Spend My Time?

by John E. Turner, LMFT and Sally R. Connolly, LMFT

 

 Question for the therapist:

I am a 64 year-old man … looking toward retirement. I am looking forward to it … playing lots of golf, seeing more of the grandchildren, working in the yard. My wife will also be retiring about the same time. We do not have much in common any more and I worry that we may end up fighting a lot as she seems to want me to be with her a lot more than I want to be with her.

I am also used to being very busy with my job and I am not sure that I can find enough things to keep me interested. Do you have ideas for me? 


Reply:
Very smart of you to be thinking ahead about how to spend your time in retirement. Many people do not seriously think about it and then, while excited about not having to punch that time clock, they also find themselves bored at the prospects of a lot of unfilled time. Often people have many of their social needs met in the work environment as well as their identity … who they “are”, what they think of themselves and how they explain to people what they do in life is based on their work. This drastic change affects all of that.
  We will offer some beginning ideas to think about … and would love to have comments from others who are reading this about what they have found that works.
  • Do plan to take some time to just relax. Play some golf, see old friends, travel a little … or a lot.
  • Look for ways to provide some structure to your week. Set up regular golf games, lunch with friends, pick one day of the week just to spend with one of your grandchildren … or all of them and keep to that schedule as much as you can. Have coffee and read the paper with your wife every morning and then take a walk together. Make some plans that you can count on without scheduling too much of your life.
  • Nurture your friendship with your spouse. You once enjoyed time together and had things in common … look for that opportunity again. Consider taking classes together … bridge, dancing, cooking, something in the adult education department with your local schools. Many of the universities have senior-focused classes and Elderhostel trips that can be very interesting, enjoyable and provide more social outlets.
  • Stay active. Have a regular exercise plan … walking, golfing, swimming, whatever interests you. Find ways to incorporate your wife and friends when you can.
  • Learn something new to keep your brain active. While classes like bridge, a new language or dancing help … so do crossword puzzles, sudoku and other word games. Read, keep abreast of the current events.
  • Volunteer your time for others. Look for opportunities … on a regular basis … to share your time and talent with others. Give back. There is research that shows that people who give to others have happier lives as they focus more on others and less on themselves.