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Most people believe that retirement begins around the age of 60, give or take a few years. It is a time when we are no longer at work, and we are free to spend our time doing whatever we want. That is likely true for many retirees, but it is also partly true for everyone with a job … at least for some of the time.

Dreams of retirement often conger up thoughts of lounging on sandy beaches, strolling in wooded forests, or sleeping until we wake without the blare of an alarm clock. Those things can certainly be a part of a retirement plan, but they can also be a part of our life BEFORE formal retirement.

How we spend our leisure time is usually not given too much consideration. The activities outside of our jobs include another set of obligations. Shopping, house cleaning, paying bills, and other such chores take up much of our free time. So, how do we RETIRE? How do we get the leisure and relaxation in our lives that we so dearly want and need?

It takes some planning, for sure. And for some people, it is really quite a feat to carve a little rest and relaxation into a busy day or a busy week. But it can be done. It just takes a little creativity and a commitment to self.

Each day gives us 24 hours to spend, totaling 168 hours per week. When we look at where that time is being spent, much like we do when we budget for our finances, we can see where there might be room to add some leisure. And this process often forces us to take a more critical look at how and where we are spending our precious time. For example, if we want both family time and time to fix dinner, we might include our children or spouse in the process. The same is true for doing other chores. And why not make a stop on our way to the grocery store or the dry cleaners and have a cup of coffee with a friend?

While many people take great pains in planning their retirement, the same can be true of planning our daily life before retirement. However limited our free time is, the more we can choose HOW to spend it, the better. We may not feel like we are masters of how our time is spent, especially with all of the demands of earning a living. It can be a real challenge to add even a few, enjoyable moments to each day. But when we do, we are part of the privileged group of people who are retired after work.

• Joe Brown, MBA, M.Div., is a consultant with Reach 4 Your Spirit, a consulting and coaching group that looks to support well-being in our personal lives and business organizations. Reach him at

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