10 Surprising Things I Learned About Retirement

A good title for entering retirement!

On the one year anniversary of my retirement, I’m struck by all that I didn’t know or plan for. No, not the financial stuff…we each need to figure out our own strategy. But I’ve learned a few things– both to my joy and chagrin–that may help others heading down the road to retirement.

Before you retire:

1. Build a social network outside work.  If most of your relationships are work-based, you need to cultivate friends in your community and neighborhood. I wish I had put more time into joining charitable organizations and political activity so I’d start off with a strong base of connections to launch my new life. Of course, you’ll still have your work friends, but over time, you won’t know or care so much about the goings on there.

2.Don’t just leave…lean out! If you can plot your departure to include a period of part-time work or contract/consulting, go for it.  It’s a great way to keep up your skills and network. It’s also nice to have some extra cash coming in. I was fortunate to be able to change my role over a period of 2 1/2 years from CMO to special projects only to keep working at a place I loved but on a schedule that met my changing needs. And, from reduced hours, it wasn’t such a leap off a cliff to go from 20 hours of work to 0!

3. Spousal planning. Suddenly two people are at home and in each other’s way and interrupting each other’s schedule.  Talk about it beforehand. Yes, you will love having more time together….but none of us signed up for 24/7 togetherness!  Personal space and independence of movement should be discussed. And no doubt you’ll be renegotiating these agreements over time.

4. Take a class in anything to develop a learning habit. And keep taking classes as it’s not only good for discovering new interests and people but it also makes your brain work.  During my transition period, I tried a couple of paper-making classes. Not for me. Too much prep work for this ADD person!  Now I’m eying Spanish lessons as I’m closer to the border (more on this later)!

Reading everywhere, including Naoshima Art Island, Japan.

When you retire

5. Slow mornings are a gift.  After decades of rush hour commuting, my favorite time is the slow morning. I watch the news on tv and on iPad in bed. Then, after morning stretches, I head down to make coffee and breakfast and get on my computer. The mate and I don’t talk much to each other in the morning as this is part of our personal/private space.  But we’re sitting right next to each other so that’s still cozy!

6.You might lose weight. Without dieting, I lost 5-7 pounds (depending on how honest I feel) and hubby lost 10-15. Why?  We do a lot less “stress” or boredom eating. We just get up and do something else.  And we’re cooking home more which tends to be more healthy which leads me to….

7. You’ll cook more. Since my spouse retired before me, he started cooking more meals for his still working wife. Always goal oriented, he decided to master eggplant parmesan for both of us and grilling meats (for him!).  We both like cooking and now we have more time for it. Plus, since we long ago solved the  issue of “whose turn is it to do the dishes,” we don’t argue about cleanup!

8. You’ll read more but not sitting in a rocking chair! We signed up for FREE ebooks and audiobooks at the library and have a constant stream (pun intended) of good literature and non-fiction. We travel a lot so a good read is great company in the car going far, or on a walk in the rain or riding fast in a bullet train, or sitting restless on a plane. Reading, reading everywhere!

9. Podcasts are a great companion. When walking solo, I love listening to my favorite podcasters: On Being with Krista Tippet (soulful stuff); Design Matters with Debbie Millman (creative inspiration); Late Night with Seth Myers; Ted Talks on Arts & Culture; and 99% Invisible (things we don’t think about).

10. You can’t predict how your retired life will turn out. One year ago, it never entered my mind that we would leave our friends and beloved Bay Area. And yet, we just did! When our second grandson was born in San Diego, we decided we wanted to live closer to family and not be fly by grandparents.  You can always meet up with your friends for social events and travel.  But you can’t replace being an active part of your kids’ and their kids’ lives.  So, we sold our house at the end of February and moved south to a new home  on March 1.  I’m writing this post from a room full of packing cartons…but we just got the internet connected!

Yes, retirement is full of surprises… and I’d love to hear about yours!









  1. Mimi, loved your 10 points and I see it as a book. Think about that for your next project and I have just the coach! When you’re ready. Can’t wait to visit your new digs and share a bite of LA with you again too. Send pics in the meantime. Mazel tov…. Below is my requested response…xoxo

    WHY NOT RETIRE: 1. Your life is often your work. My work can take me into another decade or two as long as I’m coherent and my memory doesn’t fail me.

    2. I plan to lean out a lot. It’s difficult to make new friends at this age…but through my art, bridge and my knitting and just being open to life, my energy & joy expands.

    3. Well, spousal planning is a hard one on this campus. We both have our pulls outside the relationship; hubby loves his music and I love my bridge. Although now knitting, my music appreciation increases and I can sit with him and happy to acquire more knowledge.

    4. My newest learning habit has been bridge. It’s opened up new pathways and it’s been like learning a new language.

    5. I too enjoy my slow mornings, especially since moving my psychotherapy practice home. A walk if my neighbor is available and if not often my dogs get me. I book clients after 10am and thus, I can enjoy a leisure breakfast and read the paper.

    6. Weight gain is the name of my game! So difficult to lose it. I’m not stressed enough I guess and packing and moving boxes and unpacking hasn’t played any role in my life. We’re in the same home since 1976 and most likely will die here too, which, isn’t such a bad thing but….the stairs might eventually be.

    7. I love to cook. My spouse doesn’t cook, dinner that is. He would cook eggs or simple foods, a sandwich too but I like to be in control in the kitchen and that goes for washing the dishes too. He finally caught on how to set the table!

    8. Read more? My ADD prevents me from reading in ways that I would like to see myself…as a reader. It’s bedtime reading at best. I even have audible but can’t seem to make it work in the car unless I have my earbuds in and then technology and I part and the stories remain on my phone without a listener!

    9. Podcasts are recent additions to my iPhone and will try to remember they’re there so when I’m driving or walking they have my ear.

    10. The way I can predict how my retired life will turn out IS that I’m just not going to retire and that’s all there is to it. I enjoy my life, my activities, my husband, my family and for the most part our lifestyle and don’t ever want it to change. Now that’s being Pollyanna however, while the shoe fits, I’m going to continue wearing it.

    > “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin

    Lynda Levy MFT http://www.lyndaAlevy-MFT.com 310-486-7795 > >


    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! I just love your detailed “responsa”. You’ve always been a role model for me of wise and engaged living with dollops of fun & family an integral part. Thanks for sharing with all of my readers, too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved hearing your insights. Mine were a little different and I gained weight…being close to the fridge more if the time was a problem. But your balance of “you should plan ahead “ and “ you just can’t predict” is perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

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