Retirement and Personal Goals

My handmade bookmark.

“Whaatt?” You say. What does shirking all your responsibilities have to do with goals and retirement?

And I say, “Everything. And it is not shirking your responsibilities, but aligning actions with your core purposes. And letting the rest go.” A religious person might describe this as aligning one’s will with the Divine Will, but we don’t want to scare people off…so we can just use New Age language to describe the process.

When I was a working stiff, my days revolved around the routine of working and all the support efforts that kept that lubricated: washing and ironing work clothing, packing work lunches, cooking food for the week on my days off work, using vacations from work to take care of the house and the kids. Anybody else use a Staycation to paint the exterior of their house? Or a travel trip to scope out prospective colleges?

Years ago I noticed that my life was deficient in play and spontaneous joy. And since then I have been finding my way back to that childlike innocent perception of the world that both sees what is true and delights in the variety and consistency of experience.

(Longtime reader Linda who asked about the diet plan is beginning to lose patience, I think.) Let me be as practical as I can be. I think workability is an excellent test for any theory that humans can devise.

Two years ago, I retired from paid employment because I was exhausted and Just. Could. Not. Anymore. I moved in with my mom and threw myself into helping her declutter her home after 46 years of hoarding. I helped entertain her guests and kept trying to figure out how to play. I took classes. I like yoga. I don’t like formal drawing. I don’t like Tai Chi. I don’t like Frisbee Golf. I like walking in the park. I like garden design. I like home design.

Then my son became ill and there was that one horrible week when he was in a hospital in one city and my mother was in a hospital in another city. Play? I have no idea.

But I do. Over the years I have discovered there is a Hansel and Gretel bread-crumb trail from where I am to the place I need to be.

Goals in Retirement (from paid employment-I’m not very retired)

Every day when I wake up, I ask my self first, “What does my son Mike need today to be as successful as he can be?” and secondly I ask myself, “What do I need to be my best and continue to be a good caregiver to Mike?” My counselor tells me I need to reverse the order that I ask these questions. But we have to start wherever we are, right? And let’s be really candid here, usually the first thing I ask is, “Coffee?”

Photo of my calendar last week.

I would like to be around for a couple decades so I start with what promotes personal health.

Sleep– When I retired from nursing, I stopped setting my alarm clock on a daily basis. When I was working, I got up at 5am and went to the gym for a cardio or weight workout before I woke the kiddos and drove them to school and then on to work at 7:30am. Now I let my body wake up when it wants to, which is usually between 7-7:30am. But I am listening to my body in a way I was never able to before. So after spending 3 hours wielding  pick-ax on a landscape project, when I overslept the next day to 9am–okay, I get it. I am listening, beloved body.

Eat Healthy-For me this means organic, locally raised plants, which is why we have been members of a local CSA. But my son needs a lot of B vitamins, which are mostly found in animal products. So I try to keep the homestead meeting the needs of all the residents.

Minimizing Drug Ingestion-My favorite drugs are caffeine and wine. I’m glad that they are both legal for someone my age, but I recognize that some of my other goals are hindered by their ingestion.

Regular Movement-Some of us would call this exercise, but to peoples who live in cultures without access to cars, it is just getting on with your day. I want to live in a place that supports normal human movement (walking and more) and sometimes I need an intermediary support like a yoga studio, which supports my movement, local community and connection with others.

Connecting with others-Well, I have this blog, which connects me with you. I have my local church community (Yeah Quakers!), I have local friends I have made since I moved to St. Louis and I have recognized the importance for this introvert for creating down time from all these connections.

Play-Oh My Word…..this has been the most difficult part of the journey. What does “Play” look like for me? I’m completely bored by competition, so a retirement of golf would make me run back to work. It has taken a bit of effort to discern this but for me play includes: 1) a gift of service to community  2) a walk in nature  3) transforming something that is not functioning or beautiful into something that is both–this can be an article of clothing or an abandoned city lot or the decrepit tile situation in my current bathroom. Current arenas of play include: decluttering the Quaker Meeting house, planting native species plants there, hand-sewing projects, creating the zero-energy use house here in St. Louis.

What about all of you? What are your goals in retirement?


  1. Thank you for this post Fawn! It is very inspiring and I think you have no idea how helpful it was to see a page fo your calendar. I have been striving for years to have a simple calendar system, without really succeeding at it. But your “weekly” section gave me inspiration!

    Your “play” section made me laugh, because it ressembles my “work” section (well, maybe not the walk in the park). I am naturally a contemplative person who can easily spend a day doing nothing, so it is a source of amazement to me that some people need to strive after play. But maybe I do not understand the word play (do you try to get something accomplish still and have fun with it? Is it that the challenge?) I have the reversed problem. It seems that in the order of priorities I always put “play” and my needs first although I have a family and a work to take care of. This is causing me some problems, I am behind, often doing things at the last-minute etc….some people would call it lazy or a lack of self-discipline and it probably is. Even though I am not sure Iaziness exists as such (sometimes, less activites make one more available to others). I try as much as possible not to let others pay the price for this tendency but it results in a lot of stress for me. So in the name of self-love I am trying to change to have a better sense of control of my life. Isn’t it interesting that we all are wired so differently? I guess that is the beauty of the creation.

    For instance, I am writing this reply while I have a long “to do list” waiting for me! It would be better to write it in the evening, but then I would forget, else I would have to write it down on my “to do” list, adding one more item to the list, which is stressful since the list would be longer! Ha ha! Balance means different things to different people and we all have our challenges, it is definitely not easy!

    As for my retirement, I know it will be the best time of my life, because I always wanted to be old since I was a child. I have always felt old, so it it just a matter of aligning the external aspect to the internal feeling 😉 I know exactly what I would do all day long. I would go for walks in the parks, sit on a bench, looking at children playing, talking to people, go to cafés, looking at people, go to the market and buy fresh produces, mainly day-dreaming and writing some thoughts down. It ressembles very much what I am already doing now when I have some free time…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is fascinating how we are all wired differently, while sharing a common humanity. The universe loves diversity! What I mean by play is this: my personality is very much a care-giver one and between raising kids and a demanding job, there was no time for me. After 40 years of that, I forgot what I thought was fun. It has taken me 2 years of exploring to discover what is play for me. Glad you like the calendar. I’m intrigued with and would give it a try if I had not already bought my 2020 calendar.


  2. Well, as of recently I am now semi-retired. I left my job (Assistant Director) at a local senior center. A job that I had since 2003. Just feeling too burnt out, felt it was time for someone new, with new ideas to take over planning & implementing activities. However, I love to clean, so I have been cleaning apartments & homes for seniors. Love it!
    As far as movement, I try to walk, ride my bike, household duties, everyday.
    I haven’t really thought too much about retirement plans…I’ll probably be one of those retirees that continue to work a few hours a week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congratulations on your semi-retirement. I bet the seniors love having you clean for them too! I actually work several hours per week, but it is volunteer work. No more overnight on-call shifts for me!


  3. We are alike in some ways. First: coffee. Calendar: paper style rather than electronic. We are different in other ways. I don’t enjoy yoga, and I do like Tai Chi.

    It’s interesting to read your about your activities/goals and others’ in their comments. My retirement goals include downsizing (both abode and city-to-small-town), and writing, and finding ways to contribute to the community as I age.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I expect you will have a smooth transition into retirement as you are already writing, contributing to your community and are a minimalist (which makes down-sizing easier.) I do miss your voluntary simplicity blog. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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