Of the many changes that came with the decision to “early-retire,” most unexpected for me is the realization that having more time does not automatically mean getting more done— that the real gift of having more time is in learning to slow down.
Several years ago, when I was still in my 55-60 hour a week HR job, I was the only non-retired member in a weekly writing critique group. Often, I was the most fanatical about attending our meetings—once, when my leg was broken, I scuttled up a steep, rain-dampened fire escape on my butt to reach the meeting room. It wasn’t unusual for me to be the only one with a new piece of writing for critique. I used to ask the retired guys what kept them from writing when they had all that time off. They said things like, “Time is different when you retire, you’ll see.”
So after 5 weeks of what Jim now refers to as “retirement practice” I am back to work 3 days a week and here’s what I have learned. Slowing down felt so good, I want to stay slowed down.
Gone is that burning need to be on my computer by 4:30 or 5 A.M. to write or edit, on my bike or powerwalking by 6, squeezing in housework or prepping dinner before rushing through the motions to shower and dress by 7, setting my cruise control for just over the limit to be at my desk by 8.
You know the cliché about smelling the roses—when I decided to work less, I knew I would love the newfound time for Jim and family, writing and smelling the salt air.
But let’s face it—I am an over-achiever. So, what surprises me most about the gift of more time is the utter joy in simply Slowing Down!