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What Constitutes a Full Day at this Stage of the Game?

By Leslie Moon April 03, 2024 Lifestyle

It’s been a year now since I’ve been fully retired. Every morning when I was working (even on my days off), I would wake up and walk through the list in my head of what I needed to get accomplished that day. I loved my career, yet I still began each day chock full of anxiety. How was I ever going to get it all done?

Although the anxiety will never disappear, I start my days now in a much calmer place. There aren’t umpteen tasks to be accomplished across multiple roles. There is time to focus on my health and exercise without having to wake up at 5 am to get it done.

There is time in the day to journal. Time to read.

But… Are My Days Full?

I found myself wondering this one morning as I was taking my mother to a doctor’s appointment. One of the things that happened around the time I began fading out of work was that my mother got sick. Although she’s doing better overall than she was, helping her out is something that is on my schedule multiple times per week and it will continue to be that way.

Ours is a complicated relationship, so although being a caretaker for her is the right thing for me to do, it is not necessarily a joyful activity in my day. There is a myriad of other things that I’d rather be doing.

And, that’s where my thoughts went on that particular morning.

The Answer Is Yes

My days are most definitely full – on the days where I include activities and people who are aligned with my values and priorities. My husband, my kids and grandchildren, close friends, creating content for the women in my community, learning something new, and being outdoors and moving my body.

If my day has included any one of those things, it has been a full day.

This is not a big change from when I was a young mom! Back then, I also considered my day to have been full when it included activities that were in line with my priorities and values.

What’s Changed Since Retirement?

I’m Learning the Difference Between “Busy” and “Full”

Throughout my life, I’ve been busy in varying degrees and have prided myself on my ability to multitask and juggle various demands simultaneously. When my children were young and at home, my days were both busy and full from the moment I got up until the moment I went to bed.

My days were full of activities that were completely in line with my priorities (my children and family and school).

Upon retirement, I’ve had more down time in my daily schedule than I’ve ever had in my life. I’m not working, and my children are grown and gone. I’ve got projects going on with my husband, am helping my mom, and I see my grandchildren often but these are not daily activities. They happen in bits and spurts.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I don’t have to have something planned for every minute of my day to be able to consider it “full.” There are days where I am very “busy” but would not call my day “full.”

There are days where I pick up a grandchild from school and hang out seemingly not doing a ton, when, in reality, I’m there listening to and playing with them and ready to help out when needed. That is a full day for me.

There are days when I get a 2-mile walk in, exercise, and finish a great book. That is a full day for me.

On the other hand, I can be non-stop busy for an entire day doing a myriad of activities that are not in line with my priorities or values and end the day tired but not feeling that my day has been “full.”

I’ve Learned How to Say “No”

Learning to say “no” has likely been the hugest and healthiest change I’ve made in my life in the past 5 years.  

Realizing that when I say “yes” to something or someone that is not in line with my values and priorities, I am saying “no” to something or someone that is.

At 62 years old, I’m done NOT spending time with people or doing activities that are not a priority for me.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What constitutes a full day for you? Does full equal productive? What are your priorities and values at this stage of the game?

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I love your commends on saying no and spending time that aligns with value and priorities. I too have a number of things that are my priorities and preferences at age 68 and say not to other things that do not align.

The last two years were a challenge as my 93-year-old mother became more disabled physically, in and out of hospitals, and ultimately in home hospice. She died blessedly and peacefully there.

Time with her and family during her illness to after her death has been a time to get know my mother, my family, and myself better. A time to look at what is important and how I can serve others and my needs. It has been both a challenge and a blessing. Now, as my time availability and perspective have shifted again, I begin to reflect on what is important, what is next, and what is worthy of my time and attention. I temper what I do with the understanding that ‘full” is good enough and that “busy” for the sake of being busy, makes me less available to myself and others.

I feel called to be here. To be present to myself and others. Perhaps that is a living legacy for the younger women of today.


Thank you for this, Pat. I love that thought of just being “busy” makes us less available to ourselves and others.


The words “in line with my values and priorities” resonated with where I am in my life now. Having wrapped up a very rewarding career, I can now spend time on whatever I want to, or not want to. Retirement is so freeing, love it!


Joyce, I love the word “freeing” in describing retirement. It’s so true!


Love this. I’m retiring this December and these are good insights to set up my full days


Thanks, Michelle! Yes, full and busy can be two completely different things.

Peggy D

I love your retirement schedule and am looking forward to full days! I am 67 and still working as a special education teacher. My days are both full and busy! This is my last year employed as a teacher. I’ve tried to retire twice and was called back into service to my school because of desparate need. However, this is really it!

Lee Ann Phinney

I love the way you define “full” as being inline with values and priorities! I am 67, getting ready to celebrate my second wedding anniversary to a wonderful man, after both of us were divorced and then widowed. I worked full time from ages 16-62, stopping because my position of 12 years was dissolved. I worked part-time for awhile, but then needed to be free to travel while planning a wedding and building a new home. I am thrilled to have time to volunteer with a recovery program for women who have been trafficked, and several others at my church. My priorities and values are more closely aligned than ever, because I can spend time with friends, my daughter and her family, exercise regularly and give back to my community ❤️


I’m also going to be 62 soon and have been retired for a year due to caring for my 86 year old mother so my time is still limited and precious. I have also started a new part time career as a Vacation Consultant which has been 40 years in the making since I took Travel & Tourism in college and never got into the field. I will be busy and have full days but at my pace and leisure. I’m looking forward to this next exciting chapter in my life!


I am so excited for this for you, Carolyn!


I love this, Lee Ann! You sound like you’ve got the “full life” down! Keep on enjoying it! You deserve it!

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The Author

Leslie is the founder of Life Balance After 50 where she uses her background in counseling and behavior analysis to help women navigate their goals and dreams after 50. She created a free mini workbook along with a guide and a full-length workbook for women who are looking to redefine and find joy and purpose in their second half of life. Contact Leslie at

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