Give yourself permission to do as you wish

Published 7:20 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

By Bonnie Brown

Tom and I attended an event recently and were talking with friends about our lives as retirees.  We were talking about how many things have changed now in the various professions.  The work world has embraced all the technology and evolved into something quite different from what we were accustomed to.  

I mentioned that where we were once participants in the parade, we are now watching the parade pass by.  And that’s not a bad thing.  As a parade participant, you had to fulfill a certain role, perform certain duties, assume lots of responsibility, and keep your nose to the grindstone if you wanted to be recognized as productive and therefore advance in your career.  

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As a retiree, you can literally say, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”  Hopefully, you achieved your personal and professional goals and can look back with pride at the path where your career led you.  You now have control of the way you spend your days, weeks, and months.  You can make plans based on a whim rather than plan according to the workflow.  Imagine!  You can pick up and go explore a new country if you so desire and have the means to do so.  You can select a hobby and devote whatever amount of time you wish to it.  Who knew you’d like pickleball?  Or Wordle, or painting?  Or writing?

As someone who is now watching the parade, you can catch up with friends as you wish and enjoy a leisurely meal rather than rush through the lunch hour as you had to do as a parade participant.  

At first, I missed the routine of the workday.  I function much better with a routine.  As a parade participant, I blocked my time in segments.  I knew how long it took to get dressed, have coffee, make breakfast, and prepare mentally for the day as I would drive to work.  It was mostly a comfortable routine especially after our boys were in school, and later out in the world carving their own paths, finding their parade route.  So, after I retired, it was important to me to redefine my routine and my blocks of time throughout the day.  It was a little difficult at first.  I was accustomed to being very goal oriented.  It took me a while to realize that I could shift my blocks of time as I chose.  I felt a little guilty if I “wasted” time and had no noticeable accomplishments.  

It took me a while to adapt and say “so what?” if I wasn’t productive that day.  

There has been a trend lately for retirees to return to the work force, to once again march in the parade.  For some, regrettably, it’s been a matter that the cost of living has gone up and it’s required of them to do so. 

For others, they quickly tired of merely watching the parade.  

Often our identity is defined by our “work.”  In fact, one of the first things you might be asked in a social setting is “what do you do?”  Well, what if you are no longer “doing” anything?  Have you lost your identity?  Not to worry.  You can now reinvent yourself.  

Give yourself permission to do as you wish.  Get back in the parade if you want to, or merrily watch the parade go by. Do what makes you happy.