Taking The Long Way Home

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Do you ever find yourself “racing Google Maps” to see if you can beat their ETA to your destination?  How about following the detour recommended by Waze to save 3 minutes on your way home?  It seems many of us are pre-programmed to hurry, and we typically take the fastest route to our destination instead of taking the long way home.  The predisposition to hurry extends well beyond our time behind the steering wheel.

As I think back over my life, it seems I was frequently in a hurry.

  • Hurrying to finish up a few more emails before a meeting started.
  • Hurrying to get out of the office to get a jump on that dreadful commute.
  • Hurrying to get out the door for an appointment.

That stops now.

It’s time to stop hurrying.  Retirement is the time for taking the long way home. Click To Tweet

As I approach my second anniversary of retirement, I’m still working on breaking the habit of being in a hurry.  I’ve decided that I don’t want to be in a hurry anymore, and I enjoy the personal challenge of seeking opportunities to intentionally slow down.  I’m retired, so does it really matter if my line doesn’t move as fast as the one at the adjacent cash register?  Does it really matter if I don’t make it through the stoplight on this cycle?

Why do so many people stress about things that don’t really matter?

Retirement should be about intentionally reducing stress in our lives. It’s time to challenge yourself to slow down. Click To Tweet

In my quest to find ways to intentionally slow down, there’s one method I’ve found which is my favorite. Every time I’m returning to our cabin after a trip to town, I have a decision to make.  I can either:

  1. Stay on the highway and get home a bit quicker, or…
  2. Exit the highway on a gravel road, taking the long way home.

 Recently I decided to always choose Option 2 and follow the gravel road in the picture below:

taking the long way home
I drive this road almost every day. Beautiful, right?

The Trade-Off of Time

Sure, taking the long way home may take a few more minutes than the highway, but the benefits I earn by investing those few minutes far outweigh the cost.  Since time is no longer my constraint in retirement,  it seems a wise investment to spend a bit of it to enjoy the things that money can’t buy.

It reminds me of what’s important in life, and it doesn’t really matter if I get home 2 minutes later, or that my truck’s a bit dusty.  It’s worth it to slow down and enjoy the views I get when taking the long way home.

Like the view of that pasture in the picture above, or of fog on my favorite river below:

the long way home
The Toccoa River, only visible if I take the long way home.

My wife and I saw an eagle once, while taking the long way home.  Had we taken the highway, we would have missed it.  Seeing an eagle?  Yeah, that’s well worth a few minutes of my time.

The Long Way Home – A Metaphor

Taking the long way home has become a metaphor for my retirement.  It’s a daily reminder of how life changes in retirement, and how we have to be intentional to get the most out of our newfound Freedom. It’s a reminder that enjoying an experience is worth a small investment in time.  Rather than having to worry about the future like I did while I was saving for retirement, I’m now free to enjoy The Present. 

Enjoy it we must.

Taking the long way home is my reminder to slow down and cherish every day I’m given.  To be intentional in savoring the present and all it has to offer. Sure, I could continue to take the faster way home on the highway, but that defeats the purpose.

I’m learning to live in the Now.

I’m learning that life is better when taking the long way home.

An old gravel quarry, with my gravel road to the left.

Reaching Our Destination

At some point, each of us will reach our final destination.  It’s unavoidable.  There’s no point in being in a hurry to get there.   Now that you have the time that retirement affords, learn to slow down and enjoy the journey.  You’ll arrive at your destination in due course, and you don’t want any regrets as you look back at the journey you took to get there.

Our retirement cabin in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia


I encourage you to be intentional and focus on slowing down. Find ways to enjoy your journey, even if it’s as simple as choosing the long way home.   Life isn’t about hurrying through life and trying to save time.  It’s more important to be intentional with the limited time you have. I find that being in a hurry has a way of sucking the joy out of life, and I’m determined to slow down and savor every day I’m given.  Rather than worrying so much about what tomorrow may bring, take some time to concentrate on today. 

Taking the long way home.

It makes life better.

I encourage you to give it a try.  

What About You?  How do you remind yourself to slow down?  Do you agree that it’s important?  Let’s chat…


Originally posted at https://www.theretirementmanifesto.com/taking-the-long-way-home/

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