While I’m not totally retired, I no longer work a 9 to 5. This makes me so happy! The number one reason it’s so awesome is that I have more time to do the things that truly add happiness and joy to my life. Our time here is short. I didn’t want to waste any more time in my cubicle than I had to.
Of course, not working full-time is a trade-off between time and money, and nothing is ever perfect. But so far, I’m happy not working full-time. I look forward to every single day and make the most of each one. Here’s how I’m finding happiness in retirement.
1. Enjoying The Simple Things In Life
Since I’ve retired from full-time work, life is better. Now there’s more time! It’s been about 6 months now since I’ve done the 9 to 5, and what I’ve learned most is that life is about the simple things. Full disclosure: I do still work part-time — but usually from home, so I choose my hours. Now I get to stay up late on weeknights and wake up when I want. My time is my own. If I want to spend 5 hours binging Yellowstone, I do it with no guilt! It may sound cliche, but I’m truly so busy I don’t know how I had time to work. (Or maybe I’m just really proficient at wasting time now.)
Another pleasurable aspect of being semi-retired is running errands and going grocery shopping during the day when everyone is (supposed to be) at work. I have to say, now that I’m not working full-time, it feels like no one else is either. Why is Costco always packed at 10 a.m. on a Monday? Doesn’t anyone have to go into the office anymore?
2. Living Within My Means
I don’t have as much money now as when I was working full-time. I knew that going in and I’m (mostly) ok with it. I’d rather have freedom and time! I’ve always been fairly frugal and have learned to be even more so since I retired from my full-time position. I really like not having to work full-time so I have no problem spending my money wisely.
I’d rather be frugal than have to work full-time. I don’t feel deprived. I have enough and basically do what I want. My husband and I don’t have a lavish lifestyle. We live in the Midwest where the cost of living is low. Our paid-for house is on the smaller side. We don’t drive fancy cars. Right now, we are sharing a car. It’s working out surprisingly well, too!
Since neither one of us is working outside of the home (he’s fully retired), we have been able to arrange our schedules to get by with one car. We’ve both been flexible and it works. But this isn’t a permanent thing, and we will purchase a second car at some point. When we do, we will pick something very affordable!
3. Finding Meaningful Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering has always been something I’ve wanted to do more of. It’s really tough to volunteer regularly when you’re working full-time. When you’re retired — or semi-retired like me — it’s still tough to find the time to volunteer, but it’s easier than it used to be. My goal is to find a couple of organizations that I’m super passionate about and volunteer a couple of times a month at each.
There’s something so satisfying in giving back. While I don’t miss working full-time at all, I do miss the social aspect of working. When you’re going into the office each day, you have somewhat of a built-in social group. I hope to find a new social group via volunteering.
4. Connecting With Family And Friends
Before I left my job, I made a list of how I wanted to spend my time in retirement. At the top of the list was spending more time with people that are important to me. When both spouses work full-time, it can be hard to connect. Now that my husband is retired and I’m semi-retired, we spend a lot more time together doing fun things. While we don’t hang out a lot during the day, we sometimes sneak out to a yoga class — and now we can go out on weeknights!
I also love that I get to hang out with my mom more often. My mom is 86 years old, and while she’s in awesome shape, she’s obviously not getting any younger. It makes me happy to have more time to spend with her during the week. Whether I stop over and visit during the day, go to lunch, or even go with her to a doctor’s appointment, it’s nice to be available to do these things.
The other “person” I’m happy to have more time for is my adorable dog! He’s my baby. Now we go on daily walks after which he lounges at my feet for the remainder of the day.
5. Traveling More Often
I love to explore new places. My goal is to hit all 50 states sooner than later. Right now, I still have about 16 to go. My problem is I can’t stop going back to places I love in states I’ve already been to. (Sedona and NYC, I’m looking at you!) Once I hit all 50 states, I want to visit all the national parks. I’ve seen quite a few in these past couple of years, and that’s only strengthened my desire to see more. I love being in nature. I love the stillness and quiet and the feeling of knowing that this great big world was created by higher powers. Being outdoors soothes my spirit. I purchased this book in Yellowstone this year, and I can’t wait to fill it with stamps.
6. Pursuing Hobbies
I like to be busy and have quite a few hobbies I enjoy. Now that I have more time, I’m getting into writing more for my blog and other publications. Writing about my travels is great fun because I get to relive the experience all over again. Reading is another hobby I enjoy, and now I don’t feel guilty when I grab a book in the middle of the day. When I was working full-time, I always felt guilty because there was usually a household chore I should’ve been doing. I’ll read almost any genre as long as it’s a good book. Right now I’m reading Dave Grohl’s book, The Storyteller. It’s an interesting read!
Pro Tip: I always request my books from the library via the Libby app, then I have them delivered digitally to my Kindle and read from there. It’s all free!
7. Staying Active
One of the things that drove me nuts about working in an office all day was all the sitting. They say sitting is the new smoking, and I believe it. It’s hard on a body to sit for 8 hours a day. I try to get in as much activity as possible now. I aim for 10,000 steps a day, but I definitely don’t always reach that goal. I see some people who post online about walking 15,000–20,000 steps a day and I have no idea how they do it.
I also love yoga. I found an awesome yoga studio in town where the people are all normal — not super yogis — and quite welcoming. My goal is to get to yoga 3 times a week, but again, I don’t always hit that goal. I’m getting back into hot yoga, which is a tough but really satisfying practice. Other ways I stay active are by hitting a combination aerobics-weight lifting class at the gym and biking on the trails by my house. I love to go to the gym or get outside whenever I want!
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