Well, actually, it is kind of like a holiday – retirement, that is. It all depends on how you define a holiday.
Of course I researched this – what is the definition of a holiday? The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says it is “an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling”. Wikipedia says it is “a day set aside by custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work, are suspended or reduced”. If I go by the OED, then my retirement certainly is a holiday, because it most definitely is an extended period of leisure and recreation, even though it isn’t always away from home or travelling. But if I go by Wikipedia, it isn’t.
All the time I was working, I had this vague idea that when I retired, it would be like I was on holiday all the time. And according to the OED, I am. But it doesn’t feel the same, and I think it’s because my idea of what a holiday is has changed. Well, maybe it hasn’t changed so much as it has been clarified.
|one of the waterfalls on our most recent holiday|
I have definitely come down on the side of Wikipedia. A holiday is really a break from doing whatever it is I do every day. When you are working, a holiday is when you don’t go to work, and do something else instead. But just because I don’t go to work doesn’t mean I don’t have normal activities that I occasionally need a break from. And that, to me, is a holiday.
Holidays are a total necessity. When I was working, I wasn’t one of these people who accumulated an enormous annual leave balance, or got a visit from the company accountant telling me to “at least put in a leave form, so we can pretend you will go on holidays”. I usually had to check I had a balance at all before I could go on my next holiday! In some cases, I think I actually owed leave days to the company. I really needed my holidays.
|some steps on a walk we DIDN'T do|
I think I used to get into a real rut, heading off to work each day, doing the same things each day, week, month. The enjoyment wears off a bit. Taking holidays meant I could recharge my batteries and go back to work and “real life” with a renewed enthusiasm for the job. The time off was also a chance to take a step back and look at my working life to see if it was what I wanted, and if anything needed changing.
Holidays were also a chance to see things, go places, and do things that I couldn’t see, go to or do when I was at home (or work).
Well, guess what – it’s exactly the same in retirement. No matter how much I enjoy doing the things I do in my “real life”, I need a holiday from it sometimes. The days, weeks, months would all blur in together and become years, and whilst I wouldn’t dislike it, I wouldn’t be enjoying it as much.
Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely enjoy being retired, and am not looking for sympathy. I really am at the beginning of “an extended period of leisure and recreation” (see OED definition of “holiday” above).
|the results from my most recent "real life" activities|
But, my advice is to make sure any retirement planning includes holidays – real, specific times designated as holidays, when you do something different to the normal activities of your retirement. Retirement is not just the rest of your life being one long holiday – it can be so much more!