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One Year Later, The Road Ahead: I Just Retired

By Cindy Boatman December 17, 2022 Lifestyle

My first post-retirement article, “The Road Ahead: I Just Retired,” captured my mindset once the dust settled. It’s a good starting point to reflect on my first year of retirement. Looking at reality vs. expectations, the unexpected, and where my thoughts on retirement land now.

I’m immediately struck by the sense of enthusiasm I portrayed throughout “The Road Ahead.” My emotional state was genuinely eager and confident, but it was not without a slight sense of uneasiness. A normal range of feelings one might encounter when starting something new.

Mostly, the year lived up to my expectations since I was ready to move on to something new. It wasn’t without challenge, but I didn’t expect it to be. It was like a “continuing education” course in the art of cultivating life balance. A journey of rediscovering myself within a new framework.

Permission to Rest

I also suffered from burnout, being physically and mentally exhausted after 35+ years in the workforce. It was a beautiful gift to myself to spend all of January and February resting. The option to sleep in or linger in bed with a book or podcast was delicious! By spring, I felt revitalized.

Be aware that, as a new retiree, you may experience unexpected feelings like sadness, grief or even depression. You may ask yourself, “Did I make a mistake?” That was not the case for me, but it’s real and happened to someone I know. It began after the “honeymoon phase,” when they no longer had the sense of being on vacation.

If this happens to you, remember to practice self-compassion. Allow yourself time to adjust and process your feelings. Seek help from family, friends, or a mental health expert if you remain overwhelmed by unwanted emotions beyond a reasonable amount of time (you know you best).

Forethought: Set Yourself Up for Success

I never looked back or missed my job. Freedom and flexibility were and still are my fundamental desires. Having the time and space to write at my pace still tops my joy list.

Just prior to retiring, I made a commitment to Sixty and Me to submit a monthly blog article over the next year. That minor act of foresight proved invaluable during my first year of retirement. From day one, it set me up with a means to explore a dream and connect with my creative side. It was also mentally stimulating and lent itself to my curious and research-oriented nature.

If you’re planning to retire soon, I highly recommend you have some kind of plan in place to provide structure and personal meaning within your life. Rest and relaxation are great, but remember to maintain a sense of purpose is an important element of healthy aging.


Though I don’t miss my job, I miss the daily interaction with former co-workers, who were also friends. Despite my tendency towards introversion, I reach a threshold and need a social fix. Scheduling semi-regular lunch dates with friends and former co-workers has been a key practice for me in the past year.

As a new retiree, be careful not to isolate yourself! Studies support social connection as another pillar in healthy aging. Plan time to socialize with family, friends and former co-workers. Volunteer work may also provide social interaction.

The Unexpected

Here’s what threw me off a bit:

Every Day Is Saturday

Transitioning to retirement from a Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work schedule is disorienting! I’ve always calendared events rather than relying on memory, but now it’s a necessity. I also find it helpful to create a flexible game plan for each week, and I try to adhere to some daily routines. These practices help in establishing a sense of time.

“Type A” Personality Challenges

For years, I was required to keep a “Project Report” at work. While I cursed it, I also loved the sense of accomplishment I experienced upon removing a completed item from the report. I’m not a hardcore “Type A” personality, but I cannot deny my need for organization, goal-setting, and the need to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Repurposing “Type A” tendencies was beneficial for me. I still set goals, with timelines, regarding things I want to pursue in retirement. On a short-term basis, I allocate days of the week or time within a specific day to “check off the list” activities. This might include rearranging a closet, cleaning out the junk drawer, meeting exercise goals, or running errands.

Do I Have the Courage to Live My Best Life in Retirement?

This was the magic question I asked myself in “The Road Ahead.” The answer is still yes! I’ve also grown in my ability to be honest with myself. I’ve learned that acting on that honesty is optional. What matters most is that my choice to act or not is deliberate, and not out of fear.

Mary Oliver’s lovely poem, The Journey, is still my favorite invitation to live your best life in retirement. But damn, those “ankle tugs” and “the voices” are still around, although they are much easier to deal with or ignore. Unless you live in a vacuum, some level of compromise will always be a part of your life.

Crappy days are also still part of the equation and to be expected. If I’m having a bad day, I sometimes brew a cup of coffee, pull out my retirement cards, and allow the sentiments to lift my spirits. I’m truly grateful that most days in the past year were good ones. I have no regrets!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What threw you off the most during the 1st year of retirement? How did you adjust to the unexpected? What are your fondest memories of the first year of retirement?

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Alison Shackell

I am standing on the brink of retirement….feeling scared to take that leap. Thank you Cindy and all you wonderful women for sharing your journeys. My biggest fear is lack of connection with the wider world and not adding value. I am a grandmother of 8 and work as a Human Resources manager part-time, loving the human connection and ability to help others grow and develop.


I know its scary, but it’s also as simple as just letting go! I feel confident you will stay connected and bring value to whatever you chose to do in retirement! I’m sure your grandchildren will greatly benefit from your experience and knowledge. It also sounds like some type of volunteer work would suit you well! Best of luck to you!

Sandra Swearingen

I retired at 64 and it was the best decision I could have made. After 45 years in nursing I found I was working in a stressful, toxic job and had just had it. I spent the first six months relaxing and trying to figure out what I was going to do. Although I had retired from full time work, I still felt the need to give back so I took two on line teaching jobs, teaching nurses for the future. Between that and working with an art guild, painting and doing shows, I am very busy. My husband and I laugh about the fact that we are both very busy and the days fly by – not what either had in our heads as a retired life!
We are fortunate to have a good financial situation, working part time has allowed us to live well on our Social security without touching our savings. We are blessed to not have to worry about how to make ends meet and have the money to travel quite a bit. With on line teaching, I can work any where and we spend quite a bit of time visiting Florida and watching the waves and the Pelicans!
In all it has been great. I have lost 40 pounds by eating right (not stress eating all day), have lowered my blood pressure and improved my lab values. If you have a plan and can make it financially – get out as early as you can. The only down side is that I miss many of my co-workers and try to keep up with them as much as possible but have discovered new friends in retirement or regenerated old relationships. So all is good!


Sounds perfect! Thank you for sharing!


I am now 1 1/2 years into retirement. My first year I traveled, enjoyed my cabin(during the week), no planning just spontaneous activities. The 2nd year I decided I needed to find a purpose, more structure, so I took Pickleball lessons and now play weekly with new friends. Volunteer at grandsons school. Having those 2 weekly commitments along with church, lunch dates and reading time, I feel a little more sense of purpose . Widowed for 9 years and learning to enjoy my daily life is different than I planned but thankful I can am trying new things too.


I love all of your insights and I’m sure they will be helpful to many! Thank you for sharing!


I started a journal when I retired and to get me through COVID. I noticed that I really found a sense of fulfillment and purpose by documenting my accomplishments and dreams. I also make a list of projects and activities I’d like to do the next day and even longer term goals. Since I’ve retired I’ve taken up gardening, reading more, organizing my home and thinning out stuff ,and more physician activities such as Pickleball and traveling (mainly to ski areas in the wintertime). I’ve also focused on areas I should have earlier in life, like using a water pick daily, taking vitamins daily, and more healthy eating habits. I also have acquired many friends through local social clubs and volunteering for Rotary events.


There are several mentions of taking up pickleball! I’ve heard Brene Brown mention how much she loves it as well! I think I’ll check it out myself!


Well I slept an average of 10 hours a night my first 6 months. I had no idea I was so exhausted and stressed. I now can get up and drink coffee at 9, watch a little tv, walk my dog and then start my project of the day. I workout two days a week. And then glad for no schedule for the rest of the week. I am loving life. Happy for good health. Loving 60andMe!

The Author

Cindy Boatman is excited to share her research and personal insights, hoping to help others live their best lives as they age. She is retired, pursing her dream to write, enjoying nature, travel, and her grandkids. She completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification program in 2020.

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