Well, summer is now officially over, although the heat defies the calendar. This week was spent trying to settle into a new schedule. I really imagined that retirement would look differently, so I’m still trying to figure out how I’m doing it wrong since I’m still pretty busy. In fact, I don’t see a huge difference between what I’m doing now and what I did immediately before I retired. I guess I have more freedom to focus on what I want to do and fewer commitments imposed on me but I’m obviously doing it wrong since I don’t have time to read, take long walks, have lunch with friends, and other traditional stuff people long for when they retire.
In his book on happiness with Oprah Winfrey, yes that Oprah, Harvard professor Arthur Brooks (who teaches courses in happiness) says this about happiness and scheduling:
“It’s important to actually have a routine for what you’re trying to do, to set your day up in the right way,” he said. “Structuring your day is critically important [for happiness].” [source]
My new schedule
Maybe that’s why I find myself falling back into the schedule I had when I was working full-time. I enjoyed my job (I was a marketing professor for 30+ years). I didn’t enjoy all the meetings and I certainly had issues with the administration but I loved working with students (for the most part–that 1% can really make your life miserable, however). I’m retired, but still teaching a couple of university classes since I’m cheap and the university finds it hard to fill some of the gen ed classes with full-time faculty as they cost too much money between salary and benefits. That removes most of the frustrating elements of teaching (meetings and administration) while keeping the best parts. Score one for happiness.
I only have to be on campus one day a week with this new schedule, so I get to spend more time with Pearl, my 55lb Pit Bull baby (she’s 6 but you’d never know it to look at her). I was taking her to classes since we returned to in-person after COVID-19, and she loved the students but she’s terrified of other dogs and more folks were bringing their dogs on campus, so I had to leave her at home this year. Plus, she won’t ride the elevator and I’m teaching on a higher floor this semester. So, spending more time at home makes me happy. Score another point for happiness.
WOW, I really needed to get my color done in this picture!
I quit working out regularly a few years ago when I suffered an injury and then filled that time with other things, like walking my dog, Pearl. Last week, I went back to working out by joining a gym (my new Medicare plan pays for my gym membership, which is must better than trying to work out with your students judging you in the gym on campus). While that’s not me below, it’s how I feel. I either needed prayers to alcohol to get through that first workout. I chose alcohol! — appletini anyone? (There’ll be enough praying next week with many Rosh Hashanah services).
Even though I took it easy last time, I still feel a little sore today. But, I’m committed to adding the gym to my new schedule at least 3 days a week. Just get the drink ready for when I return this afternoon. What’s your fav?
Working out is another tip from the happiness book. So, score another win for happiness.
I realized years ago that I’m happier if I’m working. So, now that I’m retired, I am busy with the things like love to do, like running this website. It was my daughter’s idea since I taught digital marketing over the years and she thought it might work to write about growing older without growing up. I thought it was a great idea and I hope you do, too. I’m also helping to organize activities for the group of 55+ women in and around the area. Mostly it’s social events and we have a lot of fun.
Besides running this website, I continue running my small digital marketing business. I don’t earn a huge amount of money, never enough to quit my teaching gig, but it’s a nice supplement to my income and I enjoy keeping my hand in. I always loved to learn and this forces me to continue reading what’s going on in the field. I’ve also taken up writing again now that I don’t have to worry about publishing journal articles (which was my initial reason for starting my digital marketing website. Writing without worrying about what reviewers would say but only working to help small business owners be more successful). I write pretty dark mystery/thriller novels about terrorist threats and the FBI folks keeping them in line. It’s called the Dark Web series and it’s so ripped from the headlines that a friend from the CIA worries that I’m giving bad guys ideas (they already have bad ideas and access to the same public resources I use in constructing my books.
I am able to do more volunteer work, which also brings me happiness. I’m making scarves from the vast collection of yarn I accumulated over the years. I currently have 10 finished winter scarves that I’ll donate to local charities. I am excited by the prospect of seeing my scarves worn by the homeless in our small community. I also worked with Gifts Giving Back for the last several years. Mostly, this involved donating books to the local students in 4th grade. However, the organizers decided that wasn’t enough so now they’re doing book events at the schools and using events as a means to give books to school-age kids as a way to get them into reading. We have an event next month and I’ll be manning the booth for a shift or two.
Score more points for happiness.
My new schedule isn’t all fun and games
I’m still struggling with the minutia of retirement. I haven’t seen the first annuity payment from my retirement account, so we’re still fighting over that. I’m on the phone with the company on a daily basis.
Ditto for Social Security, as I get a new letter from them nearly every day with a different amount to expect in my first check, which won’t come until late October. Remember that as you approach retirement. You need another source of funds to tide you over until these retirement funds kick in. I feel bad for folks without savings. I don’t know how they’ll pay their bills for the first few months.
Everything else also seems to take multiple visits and phone calls despite the fact that I started filling out forms and answering questions three months prior to my retirement date. Oh well, take a few points from my happiness bank.
Overall, I think I did pretty well with my new schedule in terms of adding to my happiness. What about you?
I’d love to connect
You get the most out of this content when you engage with me on Facebook or Instagram. So, head on over to follow. But, you need to share your ideas, provide feedback on what I say (even if you think it totally missed the boat), and tell me how you’re getting the most from living while gray.