In a previous blog post, “Your Ideal Day,” I suggested that one good way to plan the non-financial aspects of your retirement is to identify what your ideal day would look like and then continually strive toward living that day. I also mentioned that in future posts, we’d look at adding the concept of ideal week and ideal year. So, let’s do that.
Recall that for your ideal day, you created a table with two columns. In the first column, you listed times in half-hour increments, starting with when you would ideally wake up and ending when you would ideally go to sleep. The second column is where you entered how you would ideally be spending those half-hour time slots. When needed, you adjusted timing by combining table rows. For example, if part of your ideal day is working out from 8:30 to 10:00, you merged the 8:30, 9:00, and 9:30 rows.
When you created your ideal day, you may have found that there were activities that competed to get a time slot, and you had to pick one. Or you may have activities that you consider to be part of spending your time ideally, but not necessarily every day.
In my case, my ideal day includes a major time slot every morning to do research for and to write the book I’m currently working on. But my ideal activities also include working out, and doing so is best for me in the morning. That conflict is resolved when I lay out my ideal week. On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, most of my morning is researching and writing. On the other days, the mornings are split between workouts and writing.
Create your ideal week chart. You’ll need eight columns, the first for listing your time slots and the other seven for the days of the week. As in your ideal day chart, you can combine time slots for longer activities to make a given day work best for you. Fill in your ideal activities. One or more of your weekdays should look pretty much like your ideal day. The others will have some modifications. Examples of activities that I have in my ideal week chart that don’t show up every day are playing a baseball game, having lunch with friends, and volunteering.
To round out your ideal planning exercise, add one more chart—12 columns, each for a month of the year. This is where you enter activities that occur less frequently, but that you want to mindfully plan for. Just a few examples in my ideal year chart include January—Florida baseball and sightseeing trip; March through May—retirement workshops and strategic planning consulting; August—East Coast family vacation; December—New Years Eve party for friends at our home.
As I noted in the ideal day blog, if you are struggling to figure out how to best spend your time, visit www.YourRetirementQuest.com and learn about the “10 key elements of a fulfilling retirement.” These can give you clues on what could be meaningful and ideal for you.
Alan Spector is an author, business consultant, baseball player, traveler, and grandfather. He has authored five published books, including, with coauthor Keith Lawrence, Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement (www.YourRetirementQuest.com). Alan and Keith conduct workshops across the country helping prospective and current retirees plan the non-financial aspects of their retirement—to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives. Alan’s latest book, Body Not Recovered, is a work of historical fiction from the Vietnam War/Protest Movement era, and it has deep St. Louis roots.