getting out of bed

A Reason to Get Out of Bed 

In addition to having enough income, there are three elements to a successful and satisfying retirement: everyone needs to have meaning, purpose, and social contact. Work provides this for most of us during our working years. However, once we retire, there is nothing that will automatically fill these needs. Because there is nothing automatic to fill our days, we must be intentional about having something to do each day. Purpose refers to having something to do. Sometimes I call this “a reason to get out of bed every day.”

Regular and recurring. Some events happen the same time every day or the same day every week or month. These are the depressionfoundation of purpose. Because of their recurring and regular nature, they provide structure to your time. They are like the covers of a sturdy three ring binder. The other pieces can be moved around or added or removed, but regular recurring events are solid. You build the rest of your life around them or in relation to them. Too much structure is a prison. But too little leads to depression, obesity, alcoholism and an early death! (How’s that for dramatic?!) Here are some examples of regular and recurring things to get out of bed for:

  • Church or synagogue
  • Lions club or Blue star mothers
  • Coffee, breakfast, or lunch with the same crew every morning or every week (my grandparents had “coffee break” every morning at 10 and afternoon at 2 in their kitchen!)
  • Book club or Bible study
  • Volunteering the same shift each week at a hospital or thrift shop
  • Working out, playing tennis, running with a group each week

 Occasional events are things that happen from time to time. They may recur, but not often or regularly enough to structure your week or month. They are maintenance type issues. Fun things that happen occasionally we call Special Events. Examples of occasional events include:

  • Doctors and dentist appointmentspurpose
  • Tax preparation meeting
  • Voting
  • Meeting with your financial advisor
  • Haircuts (however, some people go every week or every other week and for them, haircuts are regular and recurring)

Mundane. Some things just have to be done, whether you like them or not. And having a to do list of mundane tasks fulfills our need for purpose. We get into trouble when there are too many mundane things and life gets boring. We can also get into trouble when we start to think mundane tasks are really important. I have a concept called “The Tyranny of the Trivial” and you can find that message on this website.

  • Mowing the grass
  • Grocery shopping
  • Paying bills
  • Doing laundry
  • Picking up grandchildren from school or soccer

Special Events. Special events are fun! These are things we GET to do once in a while. Having a special event on the calendar weeks or months in advance gives you something to look forward to; it pulls you along, especially during lulls in your schedule or tough winter months in the north. Some special events I have heard about:

  • friendsClass reunions
  • Day trip to the beach
  • Vacation
  • Dates with your spouse
  • Dinner or a show with friends
  • Visit to or from out of town children or grandchildren
  • Sporting event
  • Hobby weekend: civil war reenacting, going to a NASCAR race


Income producing. As a finance guy, this is one of my favorite types of activities! Not only do you have something to do, you get a monetary reward. Receiving money is important. Of course the money is nice to help fund your other activities. But more than that, receiving money is a real psychological boost. Getting paid validates us. The money indicates that we are providing a valuable service and in turn, we feel valued. Having a part time, temporary, or intermittent job is a great idea for many retirees. Here are some of the part-time jobs my clients have taken:

  • Wedding Photographer
  • Photographer for an insurance agency (one client rode around on his bike taking pictures of the insured houses – and he got paid mileage to boot!)
  • Assembler at a home improvement storemoney
  • Consultant back to their industry: engineering, contract review, etc.
  • Election/poll worker
  • Township supervisor for a rural community
  • Golf course ranger/mechanic/pro shop sales
  • Retail sales for apparel, hardware, coffee shop
  • Substitute teacher/playground supervisor/paraprofessional
  • Teach classes in cooking, sewing, spin (indoor bicycle)
  • DNR summer job
  • Tax preparer assistant
  • Lifeguard



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