It’s fun to contemplate the possibilities in early retirement. Some have organized bucket-like lists of retirement goals: Physician on Fire, My Sons Father, J. Money, and Joe Hearn are a few lists I have come across recently.
Mine is a little different. Rather than list retirement dreams and wishes, I explain what I hope NOT to do in the days after employment. Don’t worry too much about negative vibes; I think you will find the list overflows with optimism.
So without further ado, I present:
30 Things I Will NOT Do in Retirement
A Retirement Anti-list
- Rush. This represents a recurring theme among many items on the list. I hope my retirement is like that lyric from “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys: “Get there fast and then we’ll take it slow.”
If I can’t make it now, I’ll be there later. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or never. Mind you, I will still have the common decency to meet someone at an agreed upon time; I’m not an animal. But the go, go, go attitude will have to go.
- Avoid activities with a big time commitment. Another recurring theme is my commitment to not fear a time commitment. Whether it’s a daunting home improvement project or an interesting volunteer experience, I’ve got the time and I will be there with bells on.
- End the conversation. “Me? Busy? Pshaw. I’ve got all the time in the world. Now what were saying about your rhododendrons?” I have a few retired, elderly neighbors with whom I love engaging in conversation. They are never busy, but I am often walking the dog or have one eye on a child, my attention elsewhere and our conversations brief. I will take it as a good sign when they start telling me “I’ve got to go now.”
- Pay someone to clean my house. I will have the time and the toilet brush. No excuses.
- Stress over a late night. I went down a black hole of suggested YouTube videos, only to look up and notice it’s 1:45am! But I’m not worried: I don’t have to get up tomorrow. If only I could convince the dog and boy to sleep in too.
- Resist the urge to nap. Even if I am awakened at 5:45 a.m. by hot canine breath and stomping little feet, I can look forward to the most glorious luxury of the middle-aged: an afternoon nap.
- Be a lunch teetotaler. It won’t be an everyday habit, but I won’t sweat the occasional noon libation.
But day drinking is a slippery slope. Before I know it, I may be popping that beer before noon, and my psychiatrist friends will start asking me questions from the CAGE questionnaire.
- Skip play time. My son constantly vies for my attention, and I can’t give it to him as much as I would like after a long work day. I look forward to days that we can hit the playground or the museum in the hours after school and before dinner.
- Drive someplace within walking/biking distance. In a move that would make Mr. Money Mustache proud, I plan to dust the cobwebs off my bike, or just plain walk, to anyplace within a reasonable distance from my house.
- Finish all the dishes each night. Perhaps more a result of my mild OCD, I resist leaving a single unclean dish before bedtime. I hope that a less rushed morning will help to exorcise my dirty dish demons.
- Throw dinner together. We are foodies in the Curious household. In truth, the boy eats mostly carbs, and the dog eats some items that are not technically food, so more accurately the adults are foodies. Taking the time to slow roast a pork butt, make home-made pasta, or assemble a zucchini ricotta galette is right up our alley. We will still have grilled cheese for dinner sometimes, but only because we want to.
- Take a 1-week vacation. Car –> airport–> 2 days of jet lag –> 4 days of sightseeing –> airport–> car–> home? We’ve done it, but it’s not ideal. Slow travel will be the rule.
- Travel on a peak day or during bad weather. If I’m visiting relatives over Thanksgiving, you’d better believe I’m not driving back home on the PA Turnpike the following Sunday. I’ll gladly wait until Tuesday morning and share the road with a few long-haul truckers. Same goes for opting out of a drive through a blinding blizzard.
- Take a “quick walk” with my dog. Especially once the weather turns nice, I love a long stroll around the neighborhood almost as much as my dog.
Unfortunately, she often gets the short end of the stick in the form an Olympic speed walk around the block by one parent as the other prepares dinner. I will stop to smell the flowers (and she the dog pee) on our retirement walks.
- Carry too many grocery bags. Many men (and perhaps some women) take pride in the “single-carry technique” when transporting groceries from car to kitchen. I have been known to overload with bags as I kick open doors and nearly rupture my rotator cuff. Enough! I will max out at 3 (maybe 4) bags per hand.
- Buy bread. Oh man, I love bread. I’ve dabbled in bread baking, but the time and effort to do it well was a labor of love, and eventually we automated with a bread machine. I look forward to revisiting the world of gluten development during retirement.
- Wait too long for a haircut. My current MO is waiting until I can no longer stand the hair tickling my ears and the unruly gray outliers sticking out—and then schedule a cut the next week. I’m not sure what my optimum haircut interval will be, but it’s not 6 weeks.
- Get a coffee to go. Ahh, cafe life. Latte sipping. People watching. Book reading. Why not sit on down and savor it with a coffee for here?
- Wear a headlamp while running. No more 5 a.m. runs in the dark. I’ll wait until the animals start to wake up, thank you very much. More generally, I’ll take my good old time with longer exercise routines.
- Squeeze in meditation. It’s pretty frickin’ hard to find inner peace when I am “speed meditating” during the 15 minutes of quiet time I can find each morning. At least 30 minutes would be ideal.
- Waste a beautiful evening. A few times each month, nature tends put her best foot forward—a cobalt blue sky, a perfect warm breeze, a brilliant pink sunset. When these moments arise, I want to be able to stop and take it all in. Other stuff can wait.
- Wait in line at the grocery store. If you live in a sports town, you will know the dread of a grocery run in the hours before game time. Grocery shopping on most any weekend can drive one to “cart rage.” I want to spend 10 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon choosing the perfect cantaloupe.
- Sacrifice quality for convenience. I’m a cheese snob (fromagelitist?). The best cheesemonger in our area is a 20-minute drive away. There’s a great butcher 15 minutes in the other direction. Farmers markets are scattered everywhere outside the city. Why can’t I pick and choose the best? I’ve got nothing but time.
- Suffer bureaucracy. About 6 months after we purchased our home, the tax basis was automatically reassessed and we were facing a HUGE increase in our property taxes. Unless, that is, we were willing to argue. Of course, our meeting with the county board of property assessment was in the middle of a weekday, but my wife was able to go, and I’m incredibly proud to say she argued us back down to the prior assessment! (It is surreal to argue that your own house is sh*tty.) Obviously I don’t look forward to these types of headaches, but at least I will have the time to deal with them.
- Miss a school field trip. I will totally be that dad that all my child’s friends know as the “field trip dad.” Sorry, son.
- Let my DSLR collect dust. My iPhone’s camera does much of the photographing in our house, but I will break out the DSLR for special occasions and vacations. I would love to experiment more with different lenses and techniques for my “real” camera.
- Hire out home improvement projects. I’m no Tim the tool man Taylor. But I have hands, tools and time, so who knows what could happen? I can fix that leaking toilet. Time to install a new front door. (I expect much swearing with this one.)
- Neglect my “garden.” If I taught a gardening class right now, it would be entitled “Mulch: It Doesn’t Need Water and Looks Reasonable.” My wife’s gardening skills out-green mine by a mile, but neither of us have much time to regularly tend our yard. You’d better believe I’ll be hitting the gardening books and spreading some compost during retirement.
- Leave all the laundry for the weekend. We try—we really try—to do some laundry during the week, but clean and dirty clothes inevitably pile up and threaten to take on a life of their own, like the trash heap in Fraggle Rock. Nothing will be more satisfying to my decluttering sensibilities than an empty hamper and put-away clothes on a more regular basis.
- Live on a schedule. In the end, this is what it’s all about for me. Most of my life—school, residency training, job—has operated on someone else’s schedule. It’s time I followed my own or, even better, none at all.
What’s on your retirement anti-list? Let me know below!