Stephen Covey says:

“Highly successful people begin with the end in mind.”

If you are in the early stages of empty-nesting, the end game is… (drum roll)…Retirement. Sounds far off, right? but you can’t wait to get there! The decisions you make in this stage–empty-nesting–are pivotal for the next stage.

In real life, retirement is not for the faint of heart. There are so many adjustments, some we prepared for, and others we never saw coming.

We prepared financially. We got debt free (thank you, Dave Ramsey!). We streamlined our commitments. We adjusted our budget. We planned our first trip! We made a list of projects we wanted to do that had been on a nearly eternal back burner.

But there were things we never saw coming:

Different Sleep Schedules

The first day, I get up as usual. I make my coffee. I read my Bible and pray for our family and our day. I walk my dog. All the normal stuff. I wander into my office and sit down at my computer. I busy myself with updates to our checking account, emails and Facebook. I return to the kitchen. I scan a few paragraphs of my current read. I dawdle around. I pace. When is this retired dude gonna wake up?

Spontaneous activities

Ed’s calendar had ruled him like an iron fist. When he retired, he wanted no calendarian restraints (yes, I just made that word up!). He gets up on, say a Tuesday morning, and says: “Let’s drive to the mountains today!” but I have a long-standing commitment on Tuesday morning. Which do I choose? Disappoint my husband and keep my commitment? Or go with my spontaneous husband and dishonor my commitment?

Differing Values

While Ed worked, I filled every day with my favorite pastimes (one of the 5 Ps!): coffee dates with friends, the Pilates studio, writing, and Mothers Of Pre-Pchoolers. One of my highest values was my commitment to these moms–who my husband had never met. When my husband retired and began to share every day with me, he was pretty bewildered by how I protected time slots to be available for young moms. Do I have to give up the people and programs I value to be his partner in retirement?

24/7. Together. Every. Day. All. Day.

How realistic is that expectation? In the kitchen. At the grocery store. In our home office. While I am making plans on the phone. In the checkbook. He has a better idea about how the things I have done for years without guidance can be, ahem, i-m-p-r-o-v-e-d. Do I have to share every element of my domain with him now? Is he now my…boss?

Deal today with surprise issues

Paul, The Apostle, talks a lot about life, and retirement is just a stage of life. Except in retirement, we have more time to practice living well. I have found hope and encouragement at the beginning of our retirement in this simple passage:

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” Romans 12:10 (MSG)

How can we apply the instruction and “play second fiddle” in our real life?

Different Sleep Schedules. I can be my husband’s good friend and love him deeply by allowing him to sleep.

Spontaneous activities. I can be authentic with Ed and say, “I already have plans, but let’s put this on the calendar for tomorrow.”

Differing Values. Let’s hold on to all that is good–sometimes together, and sometimes separately.

24/7. Together. Every. Day. All. Day. Easy-breezy! if at least one of us practices playing second fiddle. Even easier if both of us are!

This behavior is kind of a lost art in our culture, but like Stephen Covey’s quote, we  begin with the end in mind. It helps us prepare for our eventual retirement today! These simple instructions help resolve just about any issues as they come up.

Try out “playing second fiddle” today and let me know by email or in the comment section:

How did it feel to “play second fiddle?

(seriously, I’m listening…)

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