Well-being in retirement has been a continuing theme in this blog. It actually forms a category on its own, so highly do I tend to regard it as a goal for retirement. It’s a simple enough concept but inevitably one that means different things to different people. Worse still, any close examination runs the risk of causing the whole ‘simple’ concept to fall apart before our very eyes, so to speak. I thought I would try, in this blog, to add a little substance to the appealing notion of having a sense of well-being in retirement. What follows is, of course, just one version of well-being.
It was not possible to work in education in the 80s. 90s and into the twenty first century without hearing and, in my case, treasuring the phrase ‘broad and balanced’. Used, of course, in the context of – children should have access to a broad and balanced curriculum. It lasted a long time by comparison with the majority of recent politically ‘inspired’ educational initiatives. Probably until the current government took a hand and destroyed the concept. Their goal has been to minimise the place of the arts and neuter the history curriculum (to focus on British history). So just two examples of the curriculum in schools being anything but broad and balanced. However I believe it still makes sense because broad and balanced means increased and maximum options and, as I used to continually tell my children, education is all about options, i.e. keeping them open.
Now that which was so admired by me both personally and professionally earlier in my life has come back to haunt me or perhaps it is to support me. As I contemplate my retirement future the notion of broad and balanced seems to have all the relevance it had in the past, maybe more so. If it’s good for the kids, or was until this government buggered it, then it must be good for us old gits as well. That’s my thinking.
So then the question is what might broad and balanced mean in a retirement context? Well, this is my version. I choose to interpret broad as meaning you have a wide range of options and balanced means that you choose from those options a number of activities that represent exactly what you want in your retirement, in a, well, balanced sort of way. To get an idea of what these options and their balance might mean, I refer you to one of the first blogs I wrote for this site, modestly entitled The Perfect Retirement, which you may remember is also the sub title / heading of this blog. In that blog I suggested some of the areas of activity within which it was important to achieve a balance. For example, between the indoor and the outdoor, the intellectual and the physical. Take a look at the blog for the full list.
Here is a simple exercise you might try. I suggest that you take a look at what constitutes say an average week for you. Produce a blank, one week, template timetable. Probably divide a day into three areas, unsurprisingly, morning, afternoon and evening, that is my suggestion but you can divide the day in any way you wish – into more sections, say each hour or, into less, maybe just one day at a time. It may give a more accurate or representative picture of what you do in retirement if you take 4 weeks either consecutively or randomly. It is better to do this randomly because if you select your weeks you may subconsciously choose only the ‘good’ ones, however you define ‘good’.
One week of your timetable might look something like this
|Afternoon||Guitar practice||Group meeting|
|Evening||Reading||Social meeting in pub||TV|
By completing the time table you can look at your week or four weeks, at a glance you might say, and ask yourself, is this what I want? Is this right? Is this balanced? Do I have too much in the socialising sections and too little in say the learning new skills sections? You may wish to colour code your entries as I have partially done, this can help you assess more easily whether you have achieved a balance. Too much red on view? Maybe you need to revise your timetable
Ultimately you can only judge whether you have the balance right by using your values and your key areas as the back drop for this judgement of your day to day activities. For further thoughts on this aspect of developing the ‘perfect(ish)’ retirement you might like to take a look at other blogs on this site.
Of course you may be perfectly content with the retirement you’re having which might be very much weighted towards a particular interest (obsession?) and if you are then that’s great. This reflective exercise is more relevant for those of us who are still not quite sure whether we’ve got this retirement business right, (and I know the idea of getting anything in this life ‘right’ is a highly contentious one) those of us who still have that slightly nagging feeling that there must be more to it than this. It seems to me it’s all too easy to let things drift in this world of retirement, to fail to take it as seriously as we might have done in our career. Or is that just me?
I’ll finish off with one of my favourite (and feared) photos, not sure what it has exactly to do with broad and balanced but it has some relevance I think.