It never fails. Before retirement, we have grandiose ideas of how much we will get accomplished when we’re no longer working.

We have on our list all the home projects we couldn’t get to when we were working.

We have a list of friends and family members we will visit more frequently.

We may even have a list of volunteer opportunities we want to participate in to give back to our community.

But something happens when you hit retirement. All of a sudden, you’re busier than when you were working.

It’s a phenomenon most of my retired clients struggle with when they enter retirement. What causes time to move suddenly in a fast-forward mode?

Many times, it’s committing to do things you were not planning to do. Now that you’re retired, others assume you have a lot of free time. With this assumption, they ask for your help.

On your end, you realize you do have more time. With this assumption, you readily accept their request. Before you know it, your time is consumed with things you were not planning to do in retirement.

How do you take control of this phenomenon?

Begin by learning to say “no” in retirement. Practice saying it with a smile in front of a mirror.

Most people wouldn’t even ask for your help if you were still working. It’s up to you to manage their expectation. They assume you have nothing to do other than to help them.

If saying “no” is uncomfortable for you, then start by scheduling things on your calendar. Let’s say from 8 AM until 6 PM you were normally at work. Begin filling in that time with things you need to accomplish. And remember, things always take longer than anticipated – especially with home projects.

Include in your scheduling, time you’ve committed to visit with friends and family members. In this way, you keep those commitments.

Instead of saying “no,” you can now say, “let me check my calendar and get back to you.” Another option is to say, “wish I could help but I already have a commitment during that time.”

The more you say these phrases, the easier it becomes to say them. You’ll also be a better person to be around because you are not overwhelmed with obligations. You’ve taken control of your time and can now focus your energy where you want it to go.

Of course, things come up – for instance, your aging mother may need help after a fall. Or your daughter has a last-minute work meeting and needs your help with picking up her kids. Knowing life is life, refrain from scheduling every minute. Leave space in between to give you some breathing room.

Retirement is a time we all look forward to because work no longer consumes our time. It’s a time we can spend with loved ones and help them with their life. However, it can become overwhelming when you lose control of your time. Take back control by learning to say “no” in retirement.

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Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy, and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature, and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”