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Deborah Voll | April 25, 2022

You’ve set a date. And the date is getting closer. We have wedding dates, baby due dates, vacation dates, closing dates, and moving dates. We prepare for all those things – we make lists, we shop, we prepare, we do paperwork. We do our homework.

Setting a date for retirement is no different. Just stopping work on a certain date… is not a plan. You’ve worked your whole life to arrive at this moment. These are precious years, yours now to enjoy.

I’m not trying to add to your to-do list, but rather, draw your attention to things you might think about to make the transition more seamless and to get the most of this extraordinary moment in your life.

In addition to being a certified life and career coach, I’m also a woman, just like you, nearing retirement. I want to share with you some of the things I’ve explored with clients who are retirement-planning and also what I’m doing to prepare for my own new chapter.

In my first article, “Nearing Retirement? 3 reasons to work with a life coach” I talked about being intentional with your time, making sure you are living an authentic life for the you who you are now. And posed the question: What is fun for you? I shared one action point, which was to start cutting back your expenses little by little before you retire so that it’s not a shock when the time comes to curb your spending.

Most people think that retirement planning is about money, and yes, that’s important. But the other issue is time. Time is tricky. Time is priceless (you can’t buy it) and time is finite. If you take some time to think about how best to use your time, you’ll have a more seamless transition to a happy retirement.

A New Schedule Can Be Your Best Friend

Sure, when you officially retire, take some time and just relax, no schedule, no commitments, just enjoy this new crazy freedom. You’ve lived on a schedule all of your life, as dictated to you by the external demands of your life: work schedule, family demands and whatever other commitments you made to community. Your free time was whatever was leftover.

One of the ways to get more out of retirement is to set up your own schedule. I imagine you don’t think this is a good idea. You think hey, I lived with a schedule all my life, now I just want to go with the flow. Give it a try and you’ll find that living with no schedule can be as oppressive – in a totally different way. Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you don’t need a schedule. You need a different kind of schedule.

I’m not talking about a down-to-the-minute schedule. I’m talking about planning your days, prioritizing what’s important for you and how to schedule it into your life. You don’t want to feel aimless, without purpose, drowning in time.

If you tell me you love to read, but “I never find the time,” schedule yourself for some good reading time every day. Will it be one hour? Two? You’re the boss of your time. If walking is important, choose the best time of day for you. Rituals like once a week movie night, or a knit club add a comforting quality to your retired lifestyle.

What Is the Rhythm of Your Days?

What will be the rhythm of your days? What will your mornings look like now? During your career, maybe mornings were frantic as you took care of family responsibilities and dashed out of the house with barely a cup of coffee.

Now, you can design your mornings to your pleasure. A before breakfast meditation on the yoga mat? A few magical hours at the easel? Do a leisurely dog walk with birdwatching instead of a frantic one?

Scheduling your life in retirement is more about organizing your time in a way that’s most pleasant and fruitful to you. You don’t want to be wandering aimlessly through every day and suddenly it’s five o’clock and you wonder “where did the time go, what did I do?” Suddenly a week, month, year, and years go by.

And of course, one of the pleasures of being retired is that you can break your schedule with no consequences. Routines are great, and changing things up is great.

Your Retirement Is Yours to Design

And the active word is design. I guess what I want to convey is that retirement is something that you craft. It is not something passive that “happens” to you. It is one of the most creative, fulfilling moments of your life if you give it a good think before the day arrives.

The one commodity you have in retirement that’s “free” is time. And I said before, time is also priceless: you can’t buy time. You worked hard all your life to save money for this moment. How will you use this precious time? Don’t let it drift away. Define what’s important to you, and what brings you joy, and be sure to schedule that into your life.

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