5 Tips for a retirement that is more than just going through the motions

Pamela Lutrell's fall color in the neighborhood

A recent conversation made me stop and consider what life might be like if I were in retirement.  I commented to someone recently that it sounded so nice, because I am crazy busy and in need of some down time.  She remarked “Since retirement, I AM JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS.  Sometimes I sit for long periods because I am not sure what to do. She said, “You can only clean out the house so many times.” I tried to encourage her with some ideas and since leaving that conversation,

I thought I would share these with you…just in case someone out there is just going through the motions.  The success of any lifestyle change is to remember that life is short and goes by so quickly so it requires a commitment to enjoy each moment with purposeful intention.

  1. Enjoy People

Get out of the house.  Join a cause to make a difference.  But, where ever you go, truly enjoy the people around you.  I talk to lovely people in elevators or check out lines.  So many people just want to be acknowledged and appreciated.  Practice kindness and smiling to everyone you meet.  Cook for neighbors or people in need.   Look for ways to give your heart to others.

  1. Do Something You Love

Find something to do you are passionate about and look forward to climbing out of bed each day to do.  I have a retired friend who is passionate about her neighborhood/community garden.  I am passionate about my blog and writing, and my husband about picking up his guitar.

Pamela Lutrell 5 tips for retirement

  1. Improve your skills

Once you know what you are passionate about it, learn new skills and improve your own.  Perhaps you are an artist…then take a class and learn a different technique. Keep your mind and abilities sharp and current.  You will be surprised how exhilarating that is.

  1. Take time to look around you

There is so much to appreciate about life around us.  Take time to look at a sunrise, a butterfly, a hummingbird, a new development in town, an art exhibit, or the flowers or autumn color in your community.  The top picture are the trees in my yard and when they begin to change I have to stop and take moments to appreciate the color (as well as the fact that I am in Texas and get to experience fall in my neighborhood!)

Pamela Lutrell on being thankful

  1. Practice being thankful

Thanksgiving is not just a one-day holiday.  It is a lifestyle.  Take a moment either at the beginning or end of the day and log in a notebook what you are thankful for that day.  It is fun and empowering to look back over the blessings we saw on particular days.  Once you do this, it makes it harder to live by just going through the motions.

I hope there is someone this post will inspire and help today.  Life is short and we just have a few moments to make it spectacular.  I submit to you that any of us can do just that.


How would you encourage someone who says they are just going through the motions?  Please add your advice if you like.  



  1. So true Pam. I used to tell my clients that were thinking of retirement “you must decide what is going to get you out of bed every morning”. In other words set your goals, look to try something new, take that class, volunteer and keep learning. Made sure I took my own advice. Coming up to 12 years retired and still loving every day!

      1. I am a retired educator. I spent 37 years in the elementary classroom. I have been retired for three years and have never had regrets. I walk daily, close to twenty miles each week, attend classes at the gym three days a week, volunteer at the food pantry, enjoy coffee, movies and lunches with friends and cook much healthier meals for my husband and I than when I worked. I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy these days as a healthy and content 65 year old. There is just no time for boredom, but you have to get involved. Oh and I read many books a month. Retirement is truly the good life!

  2. I retired several years ago at 65, and since then have taken classes and still practice yoga, tai chi, book clubs. Keeping a large house, husband and grandkids who live near us, there us always something to do.
    I love our classes and friends made at the local senior center, which is a busy place, with book club, drama club, card players groups, bingo, scrabble, all sorts of exercise and yoga classes, a full time nurse who teaches wellness ideas on Thursdays. Lunch available everyday M through F. There is also an am coffee shop.

  3. I think teachers might find retirement a little less daunting because we are used to filling up a longer summer than most workers. I plan to retire in a couple of years, and despite knowing I will be busy and happy with what I do now (I am very involved with making elaborate beaded jewelry and travel to classes, etc.) I still have moments that bring me up short, especially when I contemplate a new second car or even a new outfit. One thing I’m determined not to do is fall into what I call a Tomorrow Rut. As in, I will clean the bathroom tomorrow. I will just wear that sweatshirt with a stain on it and get into something nicer tomorrow. I will try to figure out who needs volunteers for that event tomorrow. I will tackle that problem tomorrow. I live in a condo complex with a lot of retired people (part of the happy downsizing we started a few years ago), and the difference in health and happiness between the Today people and the Tomorrow Rut people is stunning to observe.

    1. Thank you for sharing this , Linda! Good point about teachers…I can confirm that. Would love to see your jewelry!

  4. I was a forced retirement due to health reasons, so I was totally unprepared. My first year, I was dealing with health problems, and a lack of routine. I have since changed thi ga for the better. I am finally enjoying having the time do do the things I want. I have joined clubs, done volunteer work, and gotten more involved with things in my community. Sometimes you have to slow down and think about what you really enjoy doing, and make an effort to be one involved in those things.

  5. I retired in 2011. My son-in-law tells me I failed retirement! Volunteering in the church office led to me being the “project director” for a major remodel. I’m on the governing board of my church and a non-profit that provides low-cost senior housing. I host a group in my home as well as attend a Bible Study during the week. I also watch my 7-year old great-granddaughter after school several days a week. Find new ways to use your skills and fuel your passions and you will enjoy retirement!

  6. My example is my parents, for whom retirement meant active living. They did not slow down until health made that choice for them. They were filling roles in their church, attending grandchildren’s events, keeping up their beautiful yard and garden (and the one at the church, too), and trying new hobbies together. They walked and took trips to the mountains. Honestly, they could and did run curcles around me.

    Of course, they didn’t just start all this in retirement. It was the way they always lived. And that is the secret. Start now as you mean to continue.

    1. One thing I keep in mind, Binky, is that I want to be an example to children and grandchildren…just like your parents were! Thanks for sharing.

  7. I am mostly retired and have zero regrets. I am active and busy. The difference is that I will occasionally have a day with an open calendar and it feels glorious! Last week I took an afternoon and drove to the national park that is only a few miles away and took beautiful pictures of our first real snowfall. Couldn’t do that when I was in the office all day. I have not found a downside. I work out more, socialize, volunteer, belong to an in-depth Bible study, meet my friends, travel…it’s great! Another nice aspect is being able to travel during the week. My grandsons are in sports that have games on weekdays, so I’ve been able to make trips to go see them more often. I talk to people who say retirement is either out of reach or must be boring. It’s neither if you prepare, have reasonable expectations and keep moving,

  8. I’ve been retired for four years and it feels to me like being a kid again, but with a car and some money.
    When I retired, my young staff remarked that all I would do is sit around and watch TV. Hah! I’ve returned to some art hobbies, play pickleball and golf regularly, travel occasionally and serve on volunteer activities…. all things I didn’t have time for in my old life. In some ways, retirement, like everything else is a lot about attitude. Chin up and find new things to enjoy!

    1. Love your comment ‘being a kid again but with a car and some money.’

      I can’t wait! That will be my mantra!

  9. I think the first year of retirement was the hardest for me. I retired at age 59. I have always been a very schedule driven person, & for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a schedule to which I needed to adhere. Once I set an informal schedule, I felt more in control of my life.
    I would stress that socializing is extremely important. My husband experienced some serious health issues, so for a few years, I spent a lot of time caring for him & taking care of the administrative side of these issues. During that time, I didn’t socialize much. Happily, he is doing well now. I still attend to the administrative tasks, but I am out & about more. I am involved in church activities & am back to meeting old friends for lunch & other activities. Your advice to your friend was excellent.

  10. This is a wonderful post, Pamela; what you offer and the following comments give a major boost to what can be done “in retirement”; however, I would also suggest that many people have their self-image tied to their jobs…when that role no longer exists, they feel adrift.
    A suggestion: have a chat with a therapist or life coach and/or take a Meyers-Briggs test…anything to develop a deepening knowledge of who you are and what is satisfying to you.

    After a lifetime of busy, busy, busy commitments…..I so appreciate the freedoms & choices inherent at this stage of life…with Gratitudes being on the top of the list..((: )

  11. I love being retired and not having to do anything! It is wonderful to be able to read until three in the morning, not to have a demanding schedule, to enjoy filling the bird feeders, watching the deer and seeing old friends now and then and fooling around with my computer. It is also blissful to sleep in on rainy cold days and not have to fight traffic.

  12. I retired 11 years ago after 38 years of teaching. In those 11 years, I earned a Master’s Degree in school librarianship, worked as a consultant, volunteered crocheting baby blankets for a service group, spent lots of time with the grandsons, travelled with my husband, and helped my husband scan and catalogue 20,000 photographic negatives from his long career.
    We just finished preparing a 10,000 negative donation to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I also helped care for my mom, who passed away 3years ago aged 91 and continue to help my 97-year-old dad. My husband does not drive, so I am the chauffeur for our daily needs as well as when we attend the grandsons’ hockey and soccer games.
    This past week I began volunteering as a reading tutor at my grandsons’ school. There is always plenty to do when you follow your interests and give of yourself!
    Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Pam.

      1. Retirement is like summer vacation with no end………….no worries about what will happen when the rest of the calendar comes awake, no deadlines (except, perhaps, yearly when the health care renewal comes 🙂 , fun even on the rainy days ‘cuz you know the sun will shine again while you’re still on ‘vacation.’ And you don’t have to go out in it unless you want to (which, let’s face it, is sometimes fun.) Snow days?? Every day’s a snow day with a chance to read all day and stay cozy.
        It’s a time to try new things. It’s a time to clear out old thoughts. It’s a time to reclaim your life and do things you want. And I don’t mean costly things like extended trips, etc. I mean……….have long walks and breakfast for dinner. Or those volunteer ops that all have talked about. Start a journal……just record date and time and weather conditions, if nothing else. Take a photo of the same scene everyday for a year. Be a secret pal to someone with a card now and then (unsigned…thinking of you)
        Our ‘earning years’ are spent…..earning. Make retirement the years of giving…….giving smiles daily, giving words of encouragement, giving a visit over coffee or tea, giving advice (when asked, not nosing in where unwanted).

        I was lucky enough to be a stay at home mom for the first five years of my daughter’s life………..retirement is like that all over again only without the constant pressure to be a good parent. I so enjoyed those years of pretend and sandbox and swings and naps. This is a chance to recapture that fun but with freedom.

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