What will I do with myself every day, if I don’t have a job to go to?

That is often the question most people have when they’re considering retirement.  There are those projects you’ve been putting off, like the deep cleaning of the entire house, or sorting all those old photos into albums, or sorting all those new photos and putting them into the cloud or some other storage format in case your hard drive fails.  Unless you’ve always been on top of everything in your life these projects could last you for a while. A t least two months, or if you’re like me, probably a whole year!  You could drag them out even longer if you became truly committed to being the best procrastinator you can be.

However, you may be having an argument going on in your head, it may go something like this…

Me the Goal Oriented, “Wow, I’ll finally have all the time I need to get all of these projects finished!”

Me the Procrastinator, “Yes, but if you get them all finished, then what?”

Me the Goal Oriented, “Then I can do more of the projects I’ve always had in my head and knew I would never have time to finish with work and all the other unfinished projects I had.”

Me the Procrastinator, “Really?  Are you sure you want to even think about new projects?  You’ll be retired.  Who knows what might happen.  You could get injured, or sick, or run out of money.  Are you sure you want to have unfinished projects hanging over your head in any of those situations?”

Me the Goal Oriented, “What are you talking about?  I’m healthy, I have years ahead of me.  In fact, I plan to live a healthy, happy, life right up until the age of 102.”

Me the Procrastinator, “Wow, 102?!  You’re only in your 60’s.  Do you really think that you can fill your time for the next 35+ years with projects?  If I had 100% control over me, I would make the projects I have last as long as possible, just in case I do happen to live to be 102.”

Does this sound familiar?  From experience I will tell you that there are days when Me the Goal Oriented wins, and then there are days when Me the Procrastinator wins. I have noticed there is definitely a trigger to determine who is in control on any particular day. It’s my morning routine.

On the days that I wake up late and roll out of bed and head for the kitchen and a cup of tea, Me the Procrastinator is in charge.  I’ll take that cup of tea and sit in the recliner.  I’ll eventually get up for a 2nd cup of tea.  I may pick up a book, or just look out the window, and before I know it an hour and a half has gone by.  This does not bode well for a productive day.

On the other hand, on the days I get up and head straight to the shower to begin my normal daily prep routine, I am focused and deliberate in the planning and the doings of my day.

While I have nothing against a slow waking routine, in fact I rather enjoy them, but it just doesn’t work for me if I have any intentions of accomplishing anything.  I need to get up and face the day on my feet, not from a recliner.

I’ve also discovered that planning to attend an event first thing in the morning helps me to stay in the Goal Oriented Me state. You may be surprised what might be out there for you to attend at 8:00 AM.  There are book clubs, and Toastmaster Meetings, Volunteer Organization Meetings, and more.

If you can’t find any thing you’re interested in attending in your area, then you can create your own Breakfast Club.  Men have done this, in a non-structured way, for years.  They get up and get out and are at their favorite breakfast spot when it opens.  I’ve seen them regularly at Bob Evans, McDonalds, and Panera.

They don’t always sit at the same table with each other.  Instead, they sit at tables close enough together that they can discuss what ever the topic of the day is.  They usually have the newspaper spread out among them.  I’m not sure if they use this as a jump off point for discussion or a prop against feeling uncomfortable if no one else shows up.  It really doesn’t matter, what does matter is that they know that they need a morning routine and a reason to get up and get out.

The real benefit of recreating your morning routine in retirement is that you can create the perfect routine for yourself.  You don’t have to worry about being late for anything, if you don’t want to.  You can get up at 4 AM or 9 AM, what ever works for you.  If you’re a night owl you can finally indulge yourself in the schedule that works for your body clock, not someone else’s time clock.  If you’re an early bird you can finally be productive in the way that suits you best rather than loosing your precious energy momentum sitting in traffic or in a meeting.

In retirement you actually get the opportunity to design your day.  Work when you want to work, rest when you feel like resting, play when the mood strikes you.

If you looked at your day as something you could design to fit you perfectly, you wouldn’t have to argue with yourself.  You could now have a new conversation that might sound something like this…

Me the Goal Oriented, “Ok, I’m going to get up at 7:00 AM and then I’m going to be at the Library for my Book Club meeting at 9:00. When I get home, I’m going to…”

Me the Procrastinator, “Hold on, hold on.  Have you noticed what a gorgeous day it’s supposed to be tomorrow?  Instead of coming straight home after Book Club, let’s go to the park and walk the trails.  Well, stroll really, you know how I don’t like to sweat.”

Me the Goal Oriented, “Hmm, maybe you’re right.  How about I ask some of the other members is they would like to come along?  In fact, I think I’ll text them now, so they can bring a pair of walking shoes, if they decide they want to come along.”

Me the Procrastinator, “Good idea.  Maybe you could walk down to the end where the cute little diner is and have lunch on the patio. You know how nice that is on a beautiful day.”

Me the Goal Oriented, “I like your thinking.  That will also give us a chance to talk about…”

I hope this gives you some ideas about how your day in retirement can be.  It doesn’t have to be an either or kind of day.  When your days are yours to create you can be productive and relaxed all at the same time.  The best part is that you are the designer and can create the magnificent day you’ve always wanted.

If you’re already retired, what are your thoughts on designing your day?

If you’re not retired, what do you think your perfect day in retirement will look like?  It’s never too early to plan ahead.  Both your Goal Oriented You and your Procrastinator You will thank you.