One Week In – First Thoughts On Retirement
I’ve just completed my first full week of retirement and my first impression was that not much had changed. I’ve been winding down for years and the last few months while recovering from a bad flare involved very little work. My first impression then was that this first week had been just more of the same, that was until I looked back on that first week in more detail. It was then that I started to notice some significant differences.
The biggest of these was that I had been moving much more, in fact I’d been in fairly continuous motion throughout the whole week, sure I sat and read for a few hours spread through the day and spent a couple of hours watching TV, but add it all up and I’d been in motion for at least 10 hours and often more, each day. That motion had been a mix of walking, cycling, gardening, housework and a couple of small home improvement projects with a few stretches and body weight exercises scattered throughout for good measure.
All this movement was enabled by more energy. When I’d been working I would typically move around during the morning but then stay at home, exhausted and mostly sitting from lunch-time onwards. This last week the fatigue seems to have dissipated, I’ve taken a 45 minute nap every afternoon but I’ve kept going all day, often going for a cycle ride in the afternoon and an evening walk too, it’s really a radical change.
The increased energy might have been fuelled by movement, as part of a virtuous cycle, but I think it’s more likely to be down to the higher levels of will-power that I have available to me now that it’s not being consumed by work. That extra will-power means that I’m eating exceptionally well and mostly sleeping well too and have less stress.
The increased movement, improved diet, better sleep and lower stress all mean that I’ve been able to significantly reduce my meds, gradually weaning off them over the last 10 days and that must be helping too, although lower levels of meds have their challenges, I’m feeling better able to cope without them than I have for many years. Most of my meds provide a prop to help me get through the days and nights, help with sleep, help with pain … but they just suppress symptoms. I’m hoping to direct more energy at working on the root causes now and to challenge the symptoms on my own. As a result I won’t have to put up with the side-effects.
I’d worried that I would start to stagnate in retirement, spend more time reading and watching TV, spend less time with people, but that’s not how it’s played out so far. I’ve actually spent less time in those solitary pursuits than I did when I was working and spent more time with friends and family, quite a surprise.
So up to this point all my reflections have been positive, but there are some hints of issues to come. I’ve felt a bit disconnected from the world, a little adrift, with nothing to drive my days, I need to drive them myself. I’ve taken some first steps to address this ‘drift’ already:
- I’ve bought a watch that tells me the day and date and chimes on the hours. The watch helps me stay connected to the flow of time, the chime keeps me conscious of the need to do something constructive every hour.
- I’ve setup a whole host of repeating tasks in the todoist app, these provide a background rhythm to my days and weeks, wash the car, vacuum throughout, clean the windows …
- I’ve started working on 30 day challenges, the first being to visit 30 different cafes in 30 days
- I’ve scheduled six short breaks away from home over the next 4 months and started to plan for each of them, to increase the level of anticipation. I’m turning each of them into a mini project, which is quite a change for me as I usually don’t plan at all
- I’ve started to take a different approach to learning, rather than just reading a book I’m going to research more widely, go on visits, watch lectures, and do some practical projects.
- I’m increasing the amount of food that I grow, up to about 50% by volume of what I’m eating right now
- I’ve introduced more variety into my days, to avoid getting into a rut, for example visiting 30 different cafes will help me discover more favourites to add to my list, walking the hundred best walks will introduce me to more of the country, trying a new food every day will help me vary my diet …
One week in then I’m happy, I’ve made a good start and seen some positive results. I’m pretty sure I will have plenty of health challenges and others to face soon, but I’m laying the groundwork for more resilience to these, which I will explore in future posts. Of particular interest to me for example is how I’m going to get through those difficult winter months!
I’m tapping this post out in Caffe Nero Lytham, still my go-to place for starting the day when I’m staying in the local area. I’ve been particularly happy with my first stumbling attempts at doing more photography, this post is illustrated by a shot I took while visiting Brockholes nature reserve with Debbie last week, a visit that resulted in me discovering the Ribble Way long distance river walk and reminding me that I really must cycle the Preston Guild Wheel with Chris.