Retirement schedules and boundaries

Inevitably, during the first months of retirement, retirees relish their lack of schedule. No set time to get up. No reason not to stay up and watch a late movie (if you can stay awake). No fixed time to exercise. No deadlines to meet.

But this overconsumption of unstructured time has consequences like any other type of binging. It can leave us feeling uninspired, rudderless, and depressed. Most humans function better with structure. According to the article “Here’s the schedule very successful people follow every day” by Eric Barker in The Week, ( there is a system of effectiveness. It consists of five elements:

  1. Your morning ritual
  2. Important work first thing — with no distractions
  3. Regroup when you slow down
  4. Meetings, calls, and little things in the afternoon
  5. A relaxing evening

Barker states that people who follow this system in business are far more likely to be successful than those who don’t. But wait – this is for people who are working and you’re either planning for retirement or have already retired. By using the five step process above, you can be assured you’re using your time wisely whether you’re working or not working.

The truth is, to get the most “juice” out of your retirement experience, it pays to incorporate the lessons we’ve learned in our working experience. Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean that you don’t have goals you want to accomplish. Your time is more valuable, not less, in this phase of life. Why? There is an ever-shortening amount of it left.

Perhaps the most difficult things to have in retirement are boundaries. After all, you’re retired. You have plenty of time to watch the grandkids, chair this fundraiser, or head up that project. Let’s be clear. I am not dissing spending time with your grandkids or on important causes. But is that what you want to do with your time? It is easy to let other people’s priorities become your priorities.

That’s why it’s important to have a plan for the non-financial aspects of your retirement. Everyone wants a sense of passion and purpose in retirement. We are hard-wired for contribution and when we don’t have ways to use our skills and abilities, we often become disillusioned and depressed.

But without goals, nothing happens. I used to resist setting goals because I was afraid I would not accomplish them. What I learned over the years was by not setting goals I was giving myself a free pass, an excuse to not hold myself accountable. Now I realize when I set a goal, it drives my priorities and choices. It forces me to look at the mindset I need to have and the steps I need to take to get to where I want to be.

A sense of purpose and passion is what most retirees say they want out of their retirement experience. Yet few have that. Those that do have identified what gives them that sense of purpose and passion. They actively go after it with goals and a plan.

If you’ve never been good at setting and accomplishing goals, now is the time to find out why. Your Countdown to Retirement is all about figuring out what is important to you as you transition from the working phase to the non-working phase of life. This process focuses on creating a compelling future by asking important, thought-provoking, questions that only you can answer. Make a decision to create a retirement that is uplifting, empowering, and inspiring. The time to start setting goals and creating your plan for that life is NOW.

Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.