How Will You Practice Your “ART” in Retirement?

A hammock on the beach. Your favourite chair in the living room. Waking up when you feel like it. A blank calendar. Doing what you want when you want. Doing nothing if that’s how you feel that day.

After a lifetime of working 40 hours every week, this scenario might sound appealing to many soon-to-be retirees. But the surprising reality is that a life of unstructured leisure can create stress, strain spousal relationships, and lead to feelings of uselessness or depression.

When today’s successful retirees stop working, they learn the “ART” of retirement. It’s about Activity, Relationships, and Time. They experiment. They try new things. They make new connections. And eventually, they create a new daily routine focused on the people and passions that make their lives fulfilling.

Here’s an example of what we mean:

Activity

Jack has just retired. He has no idea how to spend his time anymore. So he potters around the house, fixing things that aren’t broken, rearranging things that don’t need to be rearranged, watching a lot of TV … and driving his wife, Jill, crazy.

We chuckle when we see a scenario like this play out in a movie or TV show. But many older couples have spent eight hours or more apart from each other every day for decades. Then suddenly, they’re together all the time.

More often than not, this is the moment when spouses realise they each have very different ideas about what retirement is going to be like. One spouse might have visions of a hammock in the garden. The other might have plans to see the world. Somewhere in between those expectations are the activities that are going to make retirement worthwhile for both people.

The things you do in retirement should be meaningful, stimulating and energising. Your passions should be your guide to a new routine – both when you’re with your spouse and when you’re apart. Take professional lessons to turn a hobby like golf or painting into a real skill. Volunteer at a charity or non-profit that’s close to your heart. You and your spouse could even indulge your inner foodies with weekly nights out to try a new restaurant together.

Relationships

Your spouse isn’t the only person you’ll be seeing more often in retirement. Your relationships with the rest of your friends and family are also going to change now that you’re no longer working. This too can be difficult, as many of the people you spent your workdays with recede from your day-to-day routine.

But this can also be a wonderful opportunity to connect with the people who matter the most to you. Once you and your spouse make it through the initial adjustment period, you’ll be able to spend time doing the things that brought you together in the first place. Planning trips and extended holidays around your children and grandchildren will create meaningful experiences that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

Your social calendar also gets a whole lot bigger. Take the time to fill it up! Organise your friends for a weekly round of golf. Plan activities and dinners with other retired couples. If there are people you lost touch with due to the hustle and bustle of working and raising a family, take this chance to reconnect.

Time

Time without the structure that work provides can be challenging for some retirees. The very notion of time can take on new meaning. Without meetings and deadlines to worry about, time can seem so limitless that it’s overwhelming. It’s like an artist staring at a blank canvas — where do you begin?

So how will you fill your day? Will you start taking an hour to do the things that used to take 10 minutes when you were working? Will you sleep later? What new routines will you start?

The good news is that many of today’s retirees are more active, more connected to their communities and more adventurous than they’ve ever been before! And they organise their time in retirement around the activities and relationships that make them feel happy and fulfilled.

Perfecting your ART

Retirement is an ART you have to work to perfect. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn from them and adjust. You might load your schedule with activities only to find that having a bit less structure allows you to explore your options. You might find the initial lack of structure frustrating and work on a new routine. You might try a part-time job. You might like it. You might not.

There’s no one way to have a successful retirement. But the sooner you start working with us to refine your ART, the better your retirement picture will be.