Retired, What To Do

Or, the joy of being self-directed and intentional . . .

The question 90% of new retirees ask, (when the first month of sleeping until noon becomes boring) is “What shall I do?”   After the life-long routine of going to the office, store, plant, job, that question is both a surprise and scary.

Thousands of times you’ve wished for the luxury of staying at home, all day, every day, but now that very schedule is upon you, and don’t lie, you’re soon bored and bewildered.

It finally dawns on us that our entire life has been spent doing what someone else has told us to do. And again, don’t lie. But stay with me, you’ll find it an eye opener, but it’s better to considered it today, and not wait for some tomorrow.

As infants and children it didn’t matter one bit what we wanted, because if we didn’t do as our Mom and Dad said, a swift swat on our butts taught us.

When 5 or 6, we went to school and everyone told us how great it was going to be. I was excited. And in many ways it was, but have you forgotten that once again we found that if we wanted to stay alive, there was another Boss, the Teacher with new rules to obey. And at recess, yes, there were other kids to play with, however, most of them were bigger, and if we wanted to remain healthy, it was best if we followed their lead.

No one asked us what we wanted to do. Yeah, we had a lot of fun along the way, but just the same, our days were spent doing what we were told to do. Remember???

And on Sundays? Well, there were Teachers with all kinds of names from Bishops to Priests, Sister This and Brother That, but no matter what their names, they had rules that even told our parents what to or not to do. We eventually found that no matter where we went, swimming pool, bowling alley, hiking, or just going for a nice drive up the canyon, dang it, there were rules to obey, or cops wasted no time reminding us of them.

In our teen years the group just older than us set the rules on what to wear, do, hair styles, clothes, and suddenly there were boys and there were girls, and it didn’t take long to find out how to please our opposites, and we tried our very best to do just that. And if we found jobs, they always came with different bosses telling us what to do. Like most teens, at times I floundered, (who didn’t?) and was lucky and survived those years, but yet, no one ever asked me what I wanted, but was always what they wanted. You, too?

The Bosses changed but they all told us what to do. More Teachers, and finally husbands, wives, even our children. And we all tried to do as ‘they’ wanted from what to serve at meals, to what furniture to buy. And on and on. The church, magazines, radio, TV and neighbors told us what and how to keep our homes, yards and gardens. And how to spend our spare time, as well.

We had jobs that filled our days, and if they paid enough, we stayed, but I don’t remember ever sitting down, trying to figure out if it was what Ethel wanted to do. No, we blundered along and were might lucky if life didn’t scar us too badly.

Was I that unimportant to myself? It took a long time before I finally asked myself why, from childhood on, didn’t someone, some book, some class, some counselor ever offer a hint to help us find out what WE wanted to do, or be.

Yes, I found that much of what I was told was good, but much of it I accepted without thinking, and most of us became clones of other’s instructions. It’s worth a thought and just maybe there is time to gently find out what you want to be. And not to be a clone in a bunch of other clones, sitting, watching tv, bored and wondering if this is all Life has for you.

Those of us who found jobs we loved and which continued to fit into our retirement years, were and are blessed and lucky.

But before another day goes by, find out what you would love to do. What hobby you always wanted to try, as a new language. Play the piano, guitar. Something you almost feel that you ‘need’ to do, and then start making plans, or doing it. Right now. For once, if never before, you can now be your own boss. That’s what retirement can be.  Make it so for you.

6 thoughts on “Retired, What To Do

  1. Funny you wrote about retirement today. Dean’s son is retiring this Friday. He and Dean have been discussing for months about the future. He will do fine. He has all kinds of activities. Many people do no. Nice blog

    • Thanks Marie

      It’s good to hear from you. If Dean and his son are discussing the subject, all will be well. Dean knows what it’s really like, and his son is smart enough to see ahead and think and wonder. And council with another. So nice to know you two are just a cross the street, monitoring what I say, and so keeping me on the right path. etc. Love from your nabor.

  2. I grew up thinking of my Grandfather as a farmer, and loved to poke around with him as he weeded, cultivated and watered his plants.
    He and my grandmother ate from what he grew, and he also shared much with his extended family and neighbors. I was a grown man before I fully realized he had originally been a business man, and a farmer only after his retirement at age 60, which was then the Law.
    At that time, 60 year old people were considered unemployable and, so he changed a couple of vacant lots into a farm, ’employed himself’ , and I was fairly grown before I knew farming was his ‘second career’. One he never retired from, and no Law could make him do so, either.
    Thanks for your column, I always like what you say, (well, I could argue with you at times.) but this one spoke right out of the screen to my youth. Thanks. . Lawrence R.

    • Thanks. You wrote good words, which could have come from many others, too. Like to have met your grandfather. Smart man. Ethel

      • Ethel, Hope this isn’t a private blog, but I can’t resist trying. My Grandmother was a ‘tough; lady and told me when Grandad retired, he began telling her how to do the house work and such, and how she told him that “She married him for life, but not for 24 hours a day” and to go find something to do. And, she said, he did. I still think it’s funny, but great and still wise words. Armeda O.

        • i like your words as well as your name. It was my sister’s also. Only two times I’ve ever heard of it. ethel

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