A couple of years ago, a friend of mine retired from her full-time position as a VP for a large corporation. Now free from her demanding position, she is exploring all kinds of latent interests—music, cooking classes, working out, volunteering, and spending more time reading among other activities. The list goes on. Even though she keeps very busy, she shared that her sense of time felt out of whack because days still go quickly, and sometimes they merge together in a big blur.
Deeply Engrained Rhythms from the Past
Unlike my friend, I did have some fairly decent breaks throughout the year because I was teaching. Toward the end of my career, I even started taking summers off—at least for the most part. I didn’t expect that time would feel any different after I left my full-time position, but it does. Like my friend, I keep very busy with a small business and other interests, but part of me is still on automatic—anticipating a set rhythm to my life that no longer exists.
What Happened to TGIF?
The first month or two, I kept waiting for something special to happen on Fridays – you know the feeling, “Thank God It’s Friday” – TGIF. But Friday was just another day after I retired. While working, I often spent Sunday afternoons preparing for the next week. After I ended my teaching career, I started feeling anxious on Sundays; it was like something needed to be done that I was ignoring. I used to work insanely hard for 11 weeks at a stretch and then I’d get a break. In just about two weeks, my former colleagues will be on spring break. I feel like I’m also anticipating that spring break even though I no longer have one.
Looking Forward to TGIS!
I’m learning that it takes time to reset those automatic rhythms in my life that I had come to expect. Instead of TGIF, I now look forward to Saturday BBQ nights. (Even our dog anticipates these BBQs and insists on supervising me when I start up the grill each week.) My work schedule generally runs from Monday through Thursday each week; I do most of my writing, video recordings, accounting, and marketing during that time. Fridays I often do some type of home project like tiling a window sill or cleaning out a closet.
Even though I do enjoy feeling productive, I still have the flexibility and freedom to do many of the things I couldn’t do when I was teaching. I work enough to complete what I want and need to accomplish. I take breaks whenever I wish. Even though sometimes I have felt like retirement has been similar to an awkward dance, I’m starting to create my own rhythms. And truthfully, I like them a whole lot better than the ones I had simply learned to accept in the past.