I received a smack to the head last week.
I came home to an empty house and I knew it would be empty for another few days, including over the weekend.
I had known Jenn and the girls were going away for months, and I was looking forward to some peace and quiet. Some time to just do my own thing.
But when I arrived home I realised how much of my life is tied up with work and my family, and how much I really enjoy that. Given I have a young family the time commitment is not unexpected.
But the lack of obvious options for things to do was scary. I just used to having things organised for me, and am out of practice at doing this for myself.
I’ve got mates I catch up with semi-regularly, but they were all busy ferrying their own kids around.
I go running regularly, but that is a morning thing.
I used to go sailing, but the people I sailed with race competitively on Saturdays and I couldn’t just force my way into the team for a one off race.
I was at a complete loss. What the hell was I going to do with my weekend?
My automatic default was: ‘I might as well catch up on some work’. This wasn’t unreasonable given I’d been away the previous week attending a conference.
But I felt uncomfortable having no plans, and I wanted to explore this. Why is it that this thing I had looked forward to – peace and quiet, and no demands on my time – was actually suddenly scary?
I recognised that this is exactly what I have been talking about to people approaching retirement: what do you do with yourself when you have no plans and all of the time in the world?
The uncomfortable reality is that many people start watching more TV – simply because it’s there and they have no other plans for filling their day.
Statistics from Australia and the US suggest that people who are retired watch an additional 2.5 hours of TV a day than those who are still working.
That equates to about 4.5 hours a day in front of the box.
Who works hard and saves so they can spend their life in retirement as a couch potato?
This is why I felt uncomfortable. I was looking at myself in the future and was scared by what I saw.
The reality is that I am going to be busy running around after children for the next 10+ years. But then the commitments will fall away, and I will need to have something to fill the hole.
Given my feelings today, I think I will want to have something I am already part of and can deepen my involvement, rather than starting from scratch. It seems less daunting.
But I know I can’t leave it to chance.