For months I have been looking forward to my retirement date. For me, retirement equated to inheriting a lot of time that I didn’t own before. That time belonged to my employer. I still work part time, but the schedule is less than half the hours I worked pre-retirement, and even more if you count the commute time that has been taken out of the equation (I work primarily at home). AND the time is flexible – I don’t have to be working within specific time frames dictated by my employer.

And therein lies both the pleasure and the challenge.

First and foremost, I LOVE not getting up between 2:30 and 3:30 in the morning! I’m a morning person, so I still get up early (around 5:30 most mornings), but it is when my body wakes up naturally, not when an alarm jars me rudely from sleep or a wonderful dream.

I’m not tied to a desk for a defined number of hours per day. I work when there is work to be done. Doing my job is, relatively speaking, easy. Coordinating when I work with all of the other priorities I set for myself in retirement is the challenge I need to meet.

My priorities for retirement, as I may have mentioned at least once (or a thousand times) before, are (in addition to the part time work):

  1. Write – current novel in progress and all writing-related activities (including more frequent blog entries and updates to my website).
  2. Exercise – return my aging body to the well-oiled (and strong) machine it was as little as a year or so ago, using activities that are not as hard on the body as running (or at least mix and match).
  3. Collaborate with my husband on some projects in our house.
  4. Enjoy time and activities with my husband and the other people important to me.

I’m now nearly a week into my new lifestyle, and I’ve already learned one thing: a casual and unplanned approach may feel good but won’t leave me feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

I’m going easy on myself this month. After all, it’s my first month of relative freedom. And lots of activities have been jammed into the month in the way of celebrations and catch-up socializing that won’t happen as frequently after the initial surge. But I’ve already figured out that if I want October and all months going forward to fulfill my vision of semi-retirement, I need to add a bit more structure to my days.

I know, that’s the antithesis of what a lot of people see as the joy of retirement. But what will bring me the most joy in retirement is being able to look at each day and say I made progress on my goals. It doesn’t have to be milestones every day, just some progress.

I’m just not sure yet what that structure needs to look like.

So for now, I’m going to bask in the luxury of greater freedom, not stress too much about how much I accomplish this month, but take careful notes about what keeps me from doing what I need to do.

Then, in time for October, I will create my profile of personal discipline that will help me navigate the new freedom and gift of time I have productively and enjoyably.

About Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse

I, like so many others, am a novelist struggling for recognition. My last three novels, THE EYES HAVE IT, IN HER MOTHER'S SHOES and STAR CATCHING, are available in e-book format through Amazon and other formats by request here or on my website. AUTUMN COLORS was my first novel and is still available through Amazon and B&N in multiple formats. My early writings are women's fiction, one also suitable for YA. My work-in-progress is a historical fiction about the Armenians who settled in Troy, NY in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Come visit me at my website:
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  1. Shelley says:

    Congratulations on entering a new phase in your life. I’ve been “retired” since Dwcember 1, 2011. You are wise to ease into it.
    Some people function best with structure. The wonderful thing about retirement is you can decide how much structure suits you, and design your life accordingly.
    Good luck, and much joy to you as you design your new life.


  2. Enjoy your new freedom, Dawn. We retired last week but with our dog breeding we are busier than ever. Once all puppies go to their new homes we’ll see if we fall in a heap. Hope you find plenty of roses and time to smell them!


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