Most people realize that they will have more limited financial resources when they retire. They plan for years to make sure those resources will be sufficient to meet their needs after they stop working.
There are other limited resources in retirement. It is a good idea to think about how we will manage them, as well.
Lots of people say that, after retirement, they are busier than they were during their working lives. They remark that they really don’t know how they ever found the time to work. I am certainly not busier than I was when I was working for a living, but it does seem like I am busier than I ever thought I would be in retirement. I absolutely understand the feeling that I don’t know how I ever found the time to work. If I had to fit a regular job into my current life, I’m not sure how I would be able to do it. My dance card is full.
When I felt the first pangs of overscheduling during retirement, I put it down to the fact that I was taking care of my mother. While I did not spend 40 plus hours a week with her or doing things for her, I did invest a considerable amount of time. I had, in effect, traded in my full-time career for a part time caregiver job. It made sense that I didn’t have as much free time as I would have thought. It didn’t bother me. In fact, I blessed my lucky stars and thanked my good God every day that I was able to retire from my full-time job so I could devote my energy to my mom. A lot of people are not so fortunate. They do the best they can trying to combine caregiving with their full-time job responsibilities.
After my mother passed away, I think I desperately tried to figure out what I should be doing with myself. I jumped into a lot of new activities. Some of that mania was about filling time to avoid melancholia, but most of it was truly about trying things I wanted to do but had postponed while my mom needed me. I’m very happy with my experimenting. I have settled quite nicely into a routine of satisfying activities. I’m living my life… and maybe overliving it sometimes, based on the overcrowding of my calendar.
I think we forget a little bit about how to schedule when we retire. I remember when I was working that I used to yearn for retirement as a time when I did not have to do everything in the most efficient way humanly possible. That time has come and I don’t do everything in the most efficient way humanly possible. I sometimes forget that time is a finite commodity and I can’t continuously fit in “one more thing.” When I do try to fit in one too many “one more things,” I feel the tension in my gut and remember why I wanted to retire. Even when you aren’t working for a living, time is a limited resource. It takes some practice to find the pleasant sweet spot between unpleasant idleness and unpleasant overextension.
Health can also be a limited resource as we age. We all hope to live a long, healthy, happy life and enjoy our retirement. It is likely that we will enjoy reasonably good health for at least part of our post-employment lives. Realistically, though, it is probable we will experience some period of declining health. In order to fully live our retirement years and to avoid becoming a burden on others to the extent we can, it makes sense to try to take care of our health. Eating properly, avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking, getting regular exercise, seeing medical professionals for early detection screenings, cultivating fulfilling relationships, and laughing a lot can all help us live more of our lives in a satisfying way. It can also be a good idea to buy long term care insurance. Nobody wants to be in a situation where they can’t take care of themselves, but it happens. Sometimes, even loving and willing family members can’t perform the care that people end up needing. By providing for a financial plan to pay for professional care, you can increase your peace of mind about the future, which may also help improve your health in the present.
It also makes sense not to postpone things we want to do for too long. If you want to fulfill your bucket list, it makes sense to start before the bucket starts leaking. If you really want to take a trip to Alaska, do it. By all means, plan for it and do whatever preparations you need to do to maximize your enjoyment of it. Do not put it on the back burner, however. Chances are, you are healthier and more physically able today than you will be next year or the year after.
There is another limited resource that I never considered when crafting my retirement life. I spent most of my adult life living in less than 700 square feet. I’ve stayed in hotel rooms bigger than my condo in Southern California. When I retired, I more than doubled my living space. I never thought I’d have to manage space again. I obviously deluded myself. Many of the activities in which I’ve become involved have encroached beyond the garage into the trunk of my car and into the vast expanses of square footage that used to be my bedroom floor. For many people who downsize in retirement, limited space can be more of a problem. I guess the key to avoiding this problem is to be realistic about the fact that you can’t fit a ten-pound bag of sugar into a five-pound canister. You either need to get another canister or get rid of half the sugar.
Currently, I have three different volunteer efforts competing for room in my car. My back seat is filled with bags of books to take to a local elementary school, courtesy of a literacy support organization to which I belong. Before the appointed time to drop off the books at school, I am also scheduled to deliver meals for Operation Homebound, an organization that provides nutritious meals for people who are unable to shop or cook for themselves. My plan is to put the ice chests that contain the meals in the trunk of my car, since the back seat is filled with the books. Unfortunately, my trunk is currently housing food for a funeral reception at my church that one of my church ladies’ groups is hosting. If everything goes perfectly, I’ll be able to juggle my deliveries so that I won’t double encumber my vehicular real estate.
Pray for me.
What limitations on resources have you experienced in retirement? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a limitless day!