Today, 24th June, is the 1,000th day since I retired from working life. I know this because I have an App that counted down the months and weeks towards my retirement date and then forgot to stop.
1,000 days. That’s about 33 months. 143 weeks. 24,000 hours. You can slice and dice it as finely as you like, but whichever way you choose, it certainly sounds like a long time. Among other things, it’s:
- As long as Anne Boleyn lasted as Queen before losing her head
- 4.3% of my entire life. So far.
- Longer than I spent at University. Or in my first job.
In other words, I’ve now spent more time as a retiree than as a student. Or a librarian.
So what have I learnt? Quite a few things, I think, including:
- That I don’t miss work at all (Happily, this was the very first thing I discovered)
- How to drive a lawnmower
- How to keep a woodburning stove going for a week or more
- That I can make a pretty good prawn and asparagus risotto
- A few useful, if slightly vulgar, French expressions
- That I’m a mine of useless information (My thanks to ‘Pointless’ and the monthly pub quiz for highlighting that)
- How to play Belote
- That I’m not very good at Belote
- Oh yes, and lists are among the most popular blog formats. Apparently.
As the more mathematically-minded elements of my adoring public will have spotted immediately, that’s only nine bullet points. Never let it be said that I would short-change you. So here’s the tenth thing I’ve learnt:
- Retirees aren’t ‘busy’, even though we say we are
Controversial perhaps, but bear with me. One of the most common – almost clichéd – comments that you hear about the transition from work to retirement runs along the lines of: “I’m so busy now, I don’t know how I ever had the time to work”. Yeah, yeah, yeah. ROFL. And I admit I’ve said it myself on occasion.
However – and, don’t forget, I’ve had plenty of time to think about this – I’d argue that while you can be ‘busy’ at work, in the sense that what is required from you is more than can easily be achieved in the time available, there’s no such thing as a ‘busy’ retirement.
Let me explain. Whether working or retired, there are still twenty four hours in a day. Assume also that one third of that time is spent either asleep or doing essential maintenance, like brushing your teeth. Ergo, the fact that ‘the man’ is no longer laying claim to eight hours of your day means that, as a retiree, you effectively have twice as much ‘free’ time as you used to.
Looked at like that, it’s hardly surprising that some people struggle to fill it, but what’s rather more counter-intuitive is that cliché I mentioned earlier. Now, I’m quite sure that it’s far more fulfilling to live a fully occupied life in retirement than it would be just to sit around waiting for the Grim Reaper to come calling, but that doesn’t mean we’re ‘busy’. How can we be ‘busy’ when we’ve twice as much time for ourselves as we had before?
The answer’s simple. We can’t. And here’s why:
Because we’re not actually ‘busy’. What manifests as being ‘busy’ is really a failure to prioritise between all the things we want to do. By and large, no-one’s forcing us to do anything, so ‘busy’ in this sense is more of a lifestyle choice than a tyranny imposed by the pitiless forces of capitalism. We just need to make our minds up and stop complaining.
Anyway, must press on. Things to do, dontcha’ know?
It’s probably time to delete that App though….