A New Phase – I’m Retired! Now What Do I Do? 

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By Roxanne Drury 

Some people ease into retirement like putting on an old favorite comfortable robe. They settle in all warm and cozy ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy their new life of freedom. That would be my husband. Other people, me for example, find nothing easy or warm and cozy about it. For them, it is more like putting on a girdle. There is tugging and pulling and sucking in and it is not comfortable in the least. Men, you might not completely understand the girdle analogy, so imagine putting on a compression sock. 

I had been talking about retiring for years but could never get the nerve to do it. What in the world would I do during all those empty days? It was frightening to me. I had been working since I was 14 years old. It was very much a part of who I was. My identity was wrapped up tightly in my retail, insurance, education, and church work jobs. What I did was who I was. News flash! That is a lie. 

I have found that I am so much more than what I did. And so are you! Our work, no matter where we work or what we do, does not define who we are. What defines us is who we belong to! I belong to Jesus. You belong to Jesus. We are His – that is what defines us. Now that we have that settled, let’s move on. 

If you haven’t guessed already, I recently retired. My transition out of the workforce was like putting on a girdle. The struggle was genuine. On some days it was debilitating to the point of full-blown meltdowns. And yet, I knew I had done the right thing. It was the right time for me to retire. In talking to other retirees, I learned that this emotional roller coaster was a real thing upon retiring. Many people had the same type of girdle experience. For some people it lasts weeks, as in my case; for others it can take much longer to get to that settled state of life as a retiree. 

You may be in the same boat as I was – retired and figuring it out. I want to offer some tips to help you journey to the old favorite comfortable robe type of retirement transition. The girdle transition was not fun! 

Here are four steps to help you ease into retirement (I share these from what I learned through my personal experience): 

  1. Keep God in the equation! Keep reading your Bible (or start). Keep praying for guidance.
  2. Plan ahead – financially, physically, and relationally.
  3. Make a budget for your life without your paycheck.
  4. Dream and use your imagination to see what your life could look like with all that time on your hands. Will it include travel? Visits to kids and grandkids? Going back to school? Writing a book?
  5. Use your health benefits to do all the medical things you have been putting off.
  6. Reconnect with old friends that you haven’t had time for. Make permanent plans to get together with those you worked with and with whom you have a strong relationship.
  7. Plan for now. What will you do daily? How will you keep life fun?
  8. Create a “Retirement Daily Routine” – replacing the get-up and go-to-work routine with a new special “Retirement Daily Routine” is important. What time do you want to get up? Which day is laundry day? Create a weekly meal plan, etc. These things will help keep you on track and help make life seem more normal.
  9. Stay active and intentional, not just busy. Join a gym, find a walking partner, make lunch dates, volunteer somewhere, start a Bible study group, etc.
  10. Find a new hobby or renew an old one. What is something you have always wanted to learn or used to love to do? You have time now.
  11. Plan for the future. What do you want the rest of your retired life to look like?
  12. Find your purpose again. What cause can you champion? Search for what God might have for you to do for His Kingdom.
  13. Redefine who you are through re-discovering old passions or finding new ones in this phase of life. Your passions are part of how God made you. We need to feed those passions. They have a purpose.
  14. Schedule some of the things you dreamed of in Step 2.
  15. Re-ground yourself through consistent Bible reading and journaling or meditating on the Word.
  16. Keep learning and keep growing, and don’t give up.

With retirement comes a transition time. It can be easy or it cannot be easy. These steps will help make your transition easier. Never one to do something the easy way, I have experienced the Retirement Girdle Transition. I offer to you what I learned from that experience in hopes that it will prevent you from doing the same. I must say, and my husband will attest, that it was ugly! 

God has a plan for each of us. I discovered that His plan for me changed when I retired. And that is okay. I (we) can embrace changes when we know they come from The Master Planner. Whether retired or not, His desire for us is to follow His plan. He promises to continually love and guide us through all the transitions in life. Trust Him in that. His word promises: “I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” – Isaiah 46:4 

You’re retired! So, now what? 

  1. Keep God in the equation.
  2. Plan ahead.
  3. Plan for now.
  4. Plan for the future.

Then find that old favorite comfortable robe and relax and enjoy your newfound freedom. 

 

Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired Christian preschool teacher who served the Lord in children’s ministry for over 45 years. She has written a group study guide on Psalm 23, as well as other books. She may be reached at [email protected]. 

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