I recently heard it called The Honeymoon Phase. If you’ve chosen to work less or have left your work life behind altogether, you might recognize it.
‘It’ is that first stage of retirement that can last a few months or a few years.
It’s that early period when we revel in all of the newly found free time. We purge our way through the long-neglected closets, spare rooms, and drawers. We schedule lunches, tea times and babysitting dates for our beloved grandchildren.
Life is good!
Or so I’d been told. Two days after leaving my full-time career behind, I jumped into a huge creative endeavor. My husband and I oversaw construction of our dream house and development of the surrounding property.
This was all consuming for about a year and a half. During that period, when people asked me how I liked being retired, I’d stare blankly and tell them about roof trusses or patio pavers. I really had no idea what it meant to ‘retire’.
Our life was a veritable beehive as I spent the early part of my ‘honeymoon’ with crews of worker bees.
All of that dust literally settled almost a year ago. Now I’m noticing that living a happy retired life requires a different kind of digging. And I found that staying aware of these four things during the Honeymoon Phase of retirement has helped me unearth a new way of moving through the world.
The days of pressuring ourselves to figure everything out now are over. Whether we’re ready or not, the retired season of life gives us more breathing room.
All transitions require that we spend time being still, allowing things to happen in their own time. So, giving our retirement transition time to unfold isn’t just helpful, it’s necessary.
Most of us are happier when we have some idea of what’s going to happen. We want to have a plan.
But we’re also wise enough to know that life is what happens when we’re making those plans. Our retired life is no different. It doesn’t always come with a roadmap.
So, if the long view is a little murky – or even really cloudy – we must accept that for what it is. And take a deep breath.
Having routine as we start retirement – or even just cutting back on work – can be challenging. This is especially true if we’re used to a work regimen dictating our every move or to a schedule built around work activities.
When that’s gone, we can feel like we’re mismanaging our time. Even wasting it!
But the smallest rituals add structure to our lives: Beginning each day with a quiet walk or a 10-minute meditation. Making the bed every morning. Visiting the neighborhood cafe for a favorite afternoon beverage.
There are countless small ways to put parameters around our time as we move into retired life. Then we can develop a more rigid structure. If we choose.
Life after full-time work can be freeing. We get to make up our own rules. We can enjoy the ride!
During the honeymoon phase, most of us are drawn to things we’ve always loved doing or things we’ve been curious about.
Signing up for a class. Visiting a new city. Joining a local group or club. The list of what we can explore is truly endless.
Best of all, we can try out different interests without worrying about doing it wrong! Because there is no ‘wrong’ when it comes to possibilities.
I know all honeymoons come to an end. But I’m hopeful that the honeymoon phase of retirement fades gracefully into the next meaningful, joyous stage of life.
Once all the dust settles.
What is your idea of the honeymoon phase? What do you plan on doing in that stage of your life? If you’re already there, what ways have you found to bring joy and structure to your free days? Please join the conversation below.