So you’re retired, now what?

JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2015 - 10:00am

When we were kids, we used to run after dragonflies (and remove their wings), climb the mango tree at our backyard and wait for the yellow bell flowers to fall from the tree and make a garland. I also collected ants and placed them in a jar, and sealed it. I watched the ants shrivel and die.

OMG! Those were not killer instincts, but what many children did when they discovered something new. We explored, we walked, we ran and got bruised. I have a scar on my knee to prove it.

Those were the days.

Now, we chase after deadlines, rush to beat the morning traffic and take care of everyone else. We have responsibilities now, leaving no room for failure. We take life and ourselves maybe a little too seriously.

And so it goes...

We wake up early, prepare breakfast, bring kids to school, work, go home, tutor the kids, have dinner, sleep. Repeat.

Do this for some 20 to 30 years, and this becomes the life that you know. Then, out of nowhere, retirement comes. Not that you didn’t expect it, right?

Retirement has always been in my mind ever since I started working. Don’t get me wrong. I love my work very much, but I’m realistic enough to accept that sooner or later, you won’t be employed anymore. When that happens, life slows down and you’re a headless chicken searching for direction. Or worse, you lose your sense of purpose.

What will you do when one day, you find yourself facing the end of your career, and you have so much time but don’t know what to do with it? It’s all hypothetical for me, and easier said than done because I’m not in that position. But what if?

I’d be stressed for sure, anxious on how to move on.

When we were kids, we didn’t worry. So, I would rather channel the child in me for us to share their zest for life.

•Learn something new.

A child is constantly exploring and curious about his surroundings. A child is constantly in awe and fearless. Learning is natural to a child, and learning is that thing that differentiates people who grow, versus those who will eventually stagnate. Outside the classroom, we would need self-discipline to learn new things that we enjoy, or maybe even excel at.

Learn music, art, gardening or a new language. It’s stimulus for our brain. For example, after retiring, my ninong attended seminars on how to invest in the stock market, while others learned the ropes to venture into a new business. There are limitless possibilities.

•Go on a field trip. Travel.

Visit the zoo or maybe not exactly that. Go to a new place and it need not be fancy. Thanks to budget airlines, we are able to fly to many attractions both here and abroad. Give yourself time to unwind. Traveling always offers a fresh perspective and it makes us appreciate our everyday lives. You could either go to your favorite place, or have a new place to visit every time you travel. We need to travel. It’s not a luxury but a necessity.

•Join a club. Make friends.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, my Papa meets with his fellow retirees in the mall. They talk about politics and issues, and they watch movies together and I’m happy that he has his group of friends. Some Titas who are retired love to do zumba and go to the gym. Some men are part of a motorcycle group, while other retirees make use of their time to serve the church as ministers or volunteers in a community.

Whatever your interest is, be part of a group that shares your interests, and make new and lasting and meaningful friendships.

Hit the playground.

Kids can never stay put. They are hyper. So, taking a cue from them, move! Make exercise a habit.

If I may suggest, I’d walk first thing in the morning. It’s the cheapest way of getting fit and a good way to clear your mind.

Endorphins that we derive from exercise are a natural upper. It keeps us happy and productive. When we aren’t doing anything, the tendency is for us to sulk and be pessimistic about our situation. Exercise keeps us healthy, too. The healthier you are, the happier you become because you are free from illness. While you’re at it, eat healthy.

•Dream, believe and have faith.

Children believe in angels, in Santa Claus, in fairytales. Children believe even if they have not seen nor touched them. They continue to hope in the future. They have big dreams. They have faith.

What do you believe in? We profess that we believe in God. If indeed we do, that adds meaning to our existence, to our life’s purpose, even its promise. Everything shall come to an end. Let us be grateful, let us ask forgiveness and give glory to God. And strive to live life to its fullest every single day.

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