The most important thing I have learned in my first month as a retiree


Well, it has been almost one month since I retired from 40 years in the workforce.  I thought it might be a good time to share some of what I have learned, including the most important thing.  Even those of you not near retirement might benefit from my perspectives.

First of all, I have learned more than one thing.  Here are a few from my list:

  • I am slowly learning to sleep beyond 4am – the coffee tastes just as good at 6am
  • I still get a bit giddy when I go to bed knowing I don’t have to get up and fight the commute to work
  • I do have to admit that I smiled (just a bit) that first morning with icy roads that I sat on my couch watching the traffic reports on the news
  • My wife and I still do and always will enjoy each other’s company
  • As expected, I miss my friends and colleagues at work – I often wonder how things are going and whether any new challenges have arisen
  • It is easy to find productive and fun things to do… even in January

So, what is the most important thing that I have learned?  I think it has to do with time. Depending upon circumstances, time can be a friend or it can be an enemy.  It can make you smile and relax, or it can cause intense stress.  It can stimulate dreams or invoke regret.  It can move agonizingly slowly or with the speed of an eye wink.

Now that I have almost unlimited free time to do essentially what I want, I am faced with the knowledge that my own days are more limited with each sunset.  On the other hand, each new sunrise brings a wealth of opportunities.  (Notice the photo above… sunrise of opportunity from my beach vacation taken just this week in Mexico… beautiful!)  We all have the same number of hours in a day, but it is how we choose to use them that determines our success, happiness, or impact.

My biggest learning in a nutshell… Enjoy the time we have, make choices that make meaningful use of it, and realize that it is fleeting.  I choose to make time my friend.  So, I plan to use my time wisely.  Sometimes, that means doing truly productive work.  Other days, it might just mean building with Legos with my grandson.  Either way, I plan to enjoy life, but still seek opportunities to make a difference to others.  You don’t have to be a retiree to heed this advice.  Bottom line… seize the day you have been given.  We are not promised tomorrow, so we need to make each day count.  

And, know that I’ll be safely on my couch rooting for you and your commute the next snow storm that comes our way.

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