After I retired, the most often asked questions from friends, former colleagues and even family usually were concerned with how I was spending my “spare time”. It seemed important to the questioners that I was doing something to occupy this new-found non-working time. So I found myself reciting long lists of things I did to fill my spare time, and my most common answer always included an assurance that I was really busy and didn’t have a lot of free time. The truth of it was, I had plenty of free time on my hands, but somehow I was uncomfortable saying so.
I even got the same question from fellow retirees. And when I asked them the same question, they rushed to assure me that they were very busy and really didn’t have a lot of spare time. It seemed somehow shameful to admit that every minute of their time was not occupied doing something. If you are among the retired, you know better.
Sure there are a few of us who are in fact very busy all the time, but that is a small minority. Most of us may have occasional days, sometimes even occasional weeks, that are full of scheduled activities or commitments, but the vast majority of us have plenty of unscheduled leisure time. So why are we so reluctant to admit it?
Probably because it seems to be in conflict with what was expected of us during our working careers. For most of our adult life we were expected to put in eight to ten hours a day at our jobs, 8 hours of sleep and any free time left after that was expected to be occupied with family time or household chores. Idle time during the working day usually meant unemployment with all the stigma and stress that goes with it. It’s hard to break out of that thinking mode after thirty or forty years.
Lately I have stopped pretending to be busy all the time and now when I am asked what I do with my leisure time, I say “enjoy it”. When asked if I get bored, I answer with a simple “no”. Why should I feel guilty about enjoying my leisure time doing nothing if that’s what I feel like doing? Where is it written that doing nothing is something to be ashamed of? I worked hard for over 35 years, so I think I earned the right to just goof off when I want to without feeling guilty about it.
Since adopting this attitude I have found that I really enjoy my leisure time even more. So my advice to my fellow retirees is to stop worrying about how to occupy your leisure time and just relax. Stop thinking you need to reassure others that you are always busy with something or another. By just admitting to having some unscheduled time that you fill with goofing off, you will find you will enjoy it even more. After all, you earned it, so enjoy it.
About The Author: Burt Widener writes extensively on issues concerning retirement. His website at http://www.allthingsretired.com offers a range of articles and other resources to aid retired persons find answers to common questions regarding retirement. The site includes a blog and is updated frequently to keep the content current. You can contact Burt at: firstname.lastname@example.org.