How I found my retirement groove 3

The Tough Stuff


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When I retired, I was ready for the fun to start straight away. This was going to be my time to shine! I had waited nearly 50 years for this moment and I was ready to go at it full steam ahead.

My finances were in order and I had already set in motion a plan for a three-month holiday caravaning around Australia with my husband once he retired seven months later.

I spent the first few weeks of newfound freedom lounging around the house, reading, watching old movies, working on the garden and catching up with friends. How delightful! ‘If this is what retirement is, count me in’, I thought.

How naive am I?

The boredom set in pretty quickly. I think it was three weeks later when I began (figuratively) banging my head against the wall.

Everyone told me that I should put my time to good use. I needed to volunteer or something to find my sense of purpose. So I signed up with one of the big charities in my area and started helping out in their store two days a week.

While I knew it was meant to make me feel like I was contributing to society and put my time to good use, something was missing. Maybe I’m a terrible person for not getting satisfaction out of all charity work, but I quickly found myself coming to dread it.

Just because everyone said I should volunteer, clearly didn’t mean I was going to enjoy it.

I stuck it out for three months and then politely quit.

Maybe I needed a hobby? ‘Do people still embroider? I’ll try that’, was one of my first ideas, quickly followed by quilting, painting and going to the gym – all of which I failed at spectacularly.

It wasn’t like I was completely lost, I was just struggling to find my rhythm. Some days I loved nothing more than hanging around the house and doing not much at all. Other days I was going out of my mind with boredom.

While I’m more than happy to live a life of leisure (after 50 years, I feel like I’ve bloody earned it), I didn’t want to carry on like something was missing forever so it was time to do something about it.

I thought about all the things I loved and how I could use them even for just a few days a week.

Animals, cooking and travel were the big ones for me.

Once I thought about it, the answers seemed clear. I signed up with the RSPCA as a volunteer and committed myself to going in one day per week as a dog walker. It’s wonderful and a real highlight of my week now.

The dogs are so beautiful and happy to be out stretching their legs and I get to spend time with them and get some fresh air and exercise.

When it came to cooking, I enquired about contributing to the local high school’s tuck shop. I arranged to cook something different for them every week to be sold on a Tuesday in the tuck shop.

I go in and work the lunch shift with the mums and dads volunteering on the day and the school covers my baking costs so I’m not out of pocket.

The kids seem to love it and I get a real kick out of seeing them every week and watching my cakes or slices or whatever I’ve made fly off the shelves.

Travel is an ongoing thing. Now that my husband and I have finished our caravan trip, I’m thinking about where we should go next. We take weekend trips up or down the coast every now and again and are planning on taking a cruise next year.

Now that I’ve settled into a mini routine, life is much more satisfying. I treat my week days like work days, doing my volunteer work and cleaning up around the house and working on the garden – as well as putting my feet up whenever I feel like it!

Weekends are for spending time with the kids and catching up with old friends, both of which keep me busy.

Right now, I’m loving life and am glad I’ve finally found that elusive retirement rhythm.

Did you struggle to settle into retirement? What do you do with your time?

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  2. It took me 9 months to wind down. Some of my clients wouldnt accept I didnt want to work for them any more. I discovered the phrase “no, f#$@% off,” offended, but made me feel sooo much better. Now after 11 months for the first time in 40 years i can watch a whole film any time I feel like it, play computer games for hours, walk with the dog for hours and not feel guilty when I sit down for 10 minutes. Pffft, keep your work, I dont want it.

  3. not yet retired but impending – as a trial I volunteered at local childcare – I read that 3 hours a week was associated with happiness – more than that was associated with ‘too much’ and burnout – so I keep it at that and love it every time.

    Of course people who define themselves by their work – and have no other interests – are at higher risk of boredom and ‘climbing the walls’ in retirement – but like the suicidal farmer who was advised ‘find someone worse off than yourself’ – now he has a whole meaningful purpose in life – spending time helping others – the longest lasting source of happiness – helping others – so do that – and bring joy to your life !

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