“But… but… but what will I DO all day?!?”

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“But… but… but what will I DO all day?!?”

The two biggest challenges facing ERs may be inflation and affordable healthcare. However the most frequently-asked question is what you’re going to do with your new life.

Ironically, the question answers itself once you retire. It may be the top question before ER, but after you retire you’ll wonder what the heck you were worrying about!

But let’s try to answer it now, and first we’ll try a metaphor: When you retire, every day is Saturday and every night is Friday night.

Next, imagine having control of your time again. What would your morning be like if you didn’t have to rush through your wakeup routine, wolf down breakfast, and fly out the door to work? You’d probably sleep an hour later, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and have another up of coffee with the morning newspaper. You’d work out, take a shower, and then have a snack while you’re reading a book or answering e-mail. Feeling refreshed and relaxed, you’d wonder what to do with the rest of your day.

As you look around the house, you’d realize that you still have chores– dirty dishes, dusting, vacuuming, yardwork, and maybe a few home repairs or improvements. You need to shop for groceries and plan some meals. Maybe you need to fix up your car. When you were working you might hire a housecleaner, a yard service, a handyman, and a mechanic. Now it’s your choice to continue to pay to have it done for you or to do it yourself.

Otherwise if you’re a surfer or a golfer then the rest of the daily schedule is filled! Maybe you have another sport or hobby that you want to catch up on.

Traditional retirement advice is “Nobody can play golf all day every day!” I’m not sure that’s correct, but let’s say that the weather doesn’t cooperate. What else will you do when you can’t do what you want to do, or when you get tired of the choices that are available?

You have to be responsible for your own entertainment. If you’re not able to jump-start your own creativity then try a tool like Ernie Zelinski’s “Get-A-Life Tree”. (For a sample, see page 82 of Mr. Zelinski’s book: http://www.amazon.com/How-Retire-Happy-Wild-Free/dp/096941949X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1283999202&sr=1-1) Write down a list of the things you enjoy doing and then think of the things you used to enjoy doing– when you had the time. Does that make you think of other things you’ve always wanted to try?

The “What will I DO all day?” question is difficult to answer because it’s hard to imagine that type of life. Once you’re living it, you’ll be able to slow down and enjoy your routine while taking the time to plan your life. You don’t have to figure out every detail of your day before you retire– you only need the confidence that you’ll be able to figure it out just like all the other ERs.



I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers and veterans.

14 Comments
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