Retirement can, on average, free up between 2,000 and 3,000 hours per year. That's after you add in the time you spend commuting, thinking about and working on work-related tasks at home and physically getting ready for work each day.
So, how will you fill those 2,000 to 3,000 hours once you retire?
Will you spend more time sleeping?
If you've spent the whole of your working life feeling sleep-deprived because you just didn't have enough time to do everything on your to-do list, you might be looking forward to those long lie-ins once you retire.
And, of course, many people who are, by nature, 'night owls' have been forced into becoming 'larks' because of the demands of their jobs and parenthood. If that sounds like you, when you no longer have to be up and at 'em at the crack of dawn every day, you may find yourself reverting to the night owl you always were at heart.
On the other hand, you might be determined to make the most of all the time you've freed up and adopt an 'I'll sleep when I'm dead' attitude.
Will you still work?
Do you intend to retire completely or are you one of the estimated 7 out of 10 people who wants or needs to carry on working (in some capacity) once you reach the traditional age for retirement?
There's a lot of evidence to suggest that the people who have the most successful retirements are the ones who keep themselves active and engaged.
There's also a lot of evidence that many people nowadays don’t actually want to retire at all. They just want to do something else and they want to do it on their own terms – for example, they want to be able to choose when they work and for how long. Or they want to do something completely different - such as voluntary work in a different field to the one in which they made their living. So the big question is: Do you want, need or feel that it would be beneficial to continue to work after you ‘officially’ retire?
Will you spend more time with your family?
How much time do you want to spend with family members after you retire? Some questions to think about in this area include:
What expectations do your partner, your children, your grandchildren and your elderly parents have about your retirement? Do your expectations and theirs blend together? Will someone be expecting more of you than you are prepared to give? Does someone have their eye on you as a potential babysitter or caregiver and what effect will this have on your own plans for your retirement?
Will you spend more time on your hobbies?
If you're the type of person who's never had a problem filling their spare time, you probably already have a satisfying blend of hobbies, interests and pastimes to look forward to when you retire.
If you've never had time for hobbies, you might need to rethink that perspective now. Ask yourself: Are my current hobbies, interests and activities going to be enough to sustain me and keep me interested and connected in retirement? If not, spend some time investigating some potential new hobbies and interests. Try them on to see if they fit. And don't forget to revisit some of those things that you used to enjoy but which got crowded out of your life by the pressures of work and bringing up a family.
Will you spend more time on community or voluntary activities?
Many retirees like to do voluntary work as a way of giving back to society and providing themselves with a sense of fulfilment and a feeling of being useful. How much time (if any) would you like to devote to voluntary or community activities in your retirement? Which voluntary activities do you feel naturally drawn to? What voluntary activities are you aware of in your area/community? Which, if any, of these appeal to you? What's the next step?
Remember, you can take your time and try out various voluntary activities before committing yourself. Don't get stuck doing something you don't enjoy because you'd feel guilty if you gave it up.
Will you take more time for yourself?
Many people report that the best thing about being retired is that they can take the time to do all the pleasurable little things that they never had time to do when they were working. Things like reading the paper from cover to cover, having an extra cup of coffee in bed before they get up, or going to a movie matinee. What are the 'little things' that you're looking forward to doing? Make sure you don't get so busy in retirement that you don't have time to indulge in the little things that would bring you pleasure.
Once you get started, you'll probably find you have no problems filling those 2,000 hours. In fact, you'll probably wonder how you found time to work at all!