Retirement life can seem rudderless after the routines of work. Getting up and getting dressed is one of the ways I have found to get motivated in retirement.
When I find myself feeling blah I know it is because I have let go of the routines that serve me well.
Adapting to retirement
Adapting to retirement can mean that we need to find new ways to maintain motivation and a sense of meaning and structure (even as we wish to maintain flexibility). When we are employed, we have a routine set for us. Even with flexible working hours we need to meet our commitments which are usually time bound. Consequently, we typically organise our personal lives around our work.
So what happens when you retire? Maybe you fill your life with lots of activities and it doesn’t feel that different. But maybe you find a hole in your life that needs to be filled. Either way, you need to find a routine that works for you to ensure you are living a satisfying retirement. You will need to create your own time management system (and yes that can include time to do nothing)
Now I admit, I am naturally lazy and if you give me the chance to lie in bed all day and read a book, I will take it. Maybe retirement could be spent that way, think of all those fabulous books. But there is a very fine line here, and for me, lying around reading can move (quite quickly and surprisingly) from being relaxing to creating anxiety. You see, I still know there are other things I need to do and indeed want to do. There are blog posts to be written, food to be prepared, washing up to be done, bills to be paid, investments to manage, friends to catch up with….. the list goes on.
Motivation in retirement
The difference is that I now need to provide my own structure, my own set of priorities and to hone my time management. I also need to find the balance between doing and being. After all isn’t more time for being one of our retirement dreams? The challenge is to know the difference between being (positive relaxation and time out) and inertia (feeling stuck). That isn’t always easy, but for me that feeling of anxiety is a clear signal that inertia has struck. And if I don’t watch it anxiety can turn to depression.
The only way I have found to move from inertia is to have a baseline that I adhere to in the morning (note I didn’t say every morning, that would suggest I always get this right – and I don’t). I have also continued to need some external motivation. So my external motivation is one that might be judged as very self-indulgent and narcissistic; in fact some in my family have named me Jan Kardashian (but no, I have a belly not a booty).
Self care is an important tool for my motivation
So what is this narcissistic habit of mine? I call it “Get up, Get Dressed, Stand up Straight, and Suck it all in”. So that’s what I do; I get up, put on my good clothes, put on some jewellery and a touch of makeup (BB cream and lipstick), stand up straight, suck in my belly and have Rowan take my photo and I share it on Instagram and Facebook. I feel some crazy sort of responsibility to show up in my Instagram community and that means I get nicely dressed and I feel better about myself. The interaction with my social media friends is one of the things I look forward to every day and I have now met several of those friends in the flesh. I also like to show that being a grandmother does not have to mean being a frump. By the way, taking a photo will show you more about what suits you than any mirror will ever tell you.
Let me assure you we are not talking about furs, diamonds and high heels here; we are talking about jeans, shorts, dresses, skirts, neat tops and a string of beads or some sassy earrings. A great place to find easy to wear items is Adrift Clothing. I cannot explain to you how much of a difference this has made to my life. Suffice to say, that recently I didn’t do this for about a week – I got up, put on some gardening suitable clothing, did my gardening then slugged around all day – and I felt awful by the end of the day. Frankly I found it depressing.
Let me also add that once I do get up and get dressed, the rest of my baseline routine is not so glamorous – make the bed, tidy the lounge-room, do the dishes. Again, having all those things done just helps me feel better about life and ready to get on with what else needs to be done. I feel ready to turn up for ‘work’ and certainly to face the world. I feel much happier and the tendency to depression is greatly muted.
What routine works for you? How do you find the balance between being and doing? What tips can you share with us? Is getting up and getting dressed part of your routine or does it all sound too hard?