So Many Possibilities, Not Enough Time – How to choose?

At this point in my retirement transition, it’s about intentionally choosing the activities that will lead me down the path towards my vision. I need to become my own Life Curator.

When you consider all the potential things I can do on my Life Possibilities list – from experiences to try, classes to take, places to visit – the abundance of possibilities can actually lead to paralysis! Assessment and choice is hard work. And as I was advised: Only you can do the work to make choices because no-one knows your foundational elements and life vision better than you.

Much of my life-before-retirement was dictated by other’s demands and schedules, from parents to teachers to bosses. Now I can choose the kind of days I want to live.  Oh, the freedom…. and the stress!

“The way to simplicity lies through complexity.” –Chinese proverb

As I talked in my previous blog Happiness By Design, you want to choose activities that will match the life vision you created – which is linked to your core values, building on your strengths and matching your interests. Recall, activities that are linked to interests provide enjoyment, fun, and comfort. Activities that are linked to interest and strengths/skills provided challenge, engagement and feelings of accomplishment. Activities that are linked to core values as well as interests and strengths/skills provide a higher level of satisfaction and meaning.

 

Here is a tool I have found useful in assessing different possible activities/pursuits versus Life Vision Statement and Life Domains.  It attempts to bring simplicity to the complex!   Activities can impact multiple life domains, some positively and some negatively.  As a Life Curator, I want to have a mix of activities that are overall positively impacting across my life domains.  Here is an example looking at my Life Domains and a few ideas from my Life Possibilities list:

  Activity Idea: Zumba Class Activity Idea: Foodie Dinner Club Activity Idea: Writing a book Activity Idea:

RoadScholar Travel

Fits Vision Statement ++ ++ + +
Improve Physical Well Being – Be Active (Core Value; Interest) ++ ?
Connections with Friends (Core Value) + ++    
Work – Share Synthesizer Expertise (Core Value; Strength) ++ +
Leisure – Release the Artist Within (Interest)   + ++  

In reality (among other activities I evaluated that are not on the above example) I am doing Zumba weekly, I took creative writing classes, and I formed a mid-week dining out club.   This is about linking your day-to-day activities to your life vision and life domains. A friend of mine commented at her 4 month post-retirement mark: “Today my life is 30% volunteer stuff, 30% learning, and 30% family. And I am happy with that!”

 

A few other suggestions about choosing activities/pursuits:

  • Focus energy on the important few instead of the insignificant many. This is more than creating a full calendar (filling up time); it is about engaging in things that can bring life satisfaction.   Busy-ness for the sake of busy-ness was a habit I had to break. In today’s culture, busy-ness is the key sign of a workaholic and is also a signal of high performance. To say that you are “not busy” is a negative statement – a sign of laziness or even a signal that you need help – someone will definitely try and solve your non-busy problem with suggestions on things to do! But, busy can also mean being stressed and not being mindful, not doing what is really important to you, and not having time to think or watch for serendipity. I learned that a balance of the few scheduled, structured activities and some un-structured time allows me to feel not stressed, and not bored.
  • Definitely pick a couple of new things to just explore!  What about trying 1 new thing per season? You will be more disappointed by the things you did NOT try than the things you did!  This is not about making a lifetime commitment. Try it on and if you don’t like it (after giving it a real chance, don’t be too discomforted with non-proficiency) move on and try something else. If the interest in the new thing is igniting, keep doing it. My writing class turned into a blog!
  • Talk with people about your plans. When I mentioned plans to be more active with walking, I found a couple of walking companions (physical well-being AND connections to friends!). A friend recently asked me if I had done a “walk-about”. He said to explore new possibilities by creating a list of people to talk to, organizations to connect with, classes to take, and places to visit for inspiration – I was encouraged to visit museums, talk to directors of arts organizations, link into volunteer boards on start-ups. All of this puts you “out-there” to allow for serendipity to happen…almost planned serendipity.
  • As you look at big activity areas or big life domains, think about breaking them down.   Writing a book (big activity) started with taking creative writing classes and starting to write with a blog. Improve physical well-being (big domain) started with goals of doing weekly Zumba and weekly walking.

 

I relook at my activities/pursuits on a quarterly basis to see if they continue to stay aligned with my Life Vision, if overall I remain in balance (more play than work, not too much structured), if I need to stop doing something (not bringing me satisfaction), and if there is space for trying something new from my Life Possibilities list.

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5 thoughts on “So Many Possibilities, Not Enough Time – How to choose?

  1. I love the idea of planned serendipity. 🙂 So many good reminders in here for us to think about in the future when we’re retired — I’m so curious to know if the busyness habit will fall away naturally for us, or if we’ll have to make a conscious effort to break it. For sure we are always striving to be less busy with work!

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  2. Interesting way to look at making choices and seeing if they work for you. Love the “Try it for a season” idea. When or it my time becomes my own (I’m a caregiver) I want to check into classes. Right now I try new things through the computer. I’m learning how to work with youtube to try my hand at creating videos for my blog, the videos being created with iMovie Maker (also a learning experience}.

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  3. I’ve been pretty pleased with my retirement so far (of about 1 1/2 years) but have thought more lately about volunteering. I’ve given money to Meals on Wheels for awhile so it may be time to step that up and help deliver the meals. I’m not sure that I have too much extra room in my (non-existent) schedule for much more as I am really enjoying the classes I’ve found to take. You are right about so many possibilities… how could anyone be bored in retirement?

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  4. Love that! This “season” I am actually taking a class on life coaching. I’m still struggling with the perceived need to “work at something” in retirement. Life coach was an area I looked into twice in my career – both times opted not to pursue. It’s been a learning experience taking a full-on class – one that I am not sure I will pursue again. (Yes, trying and learning!) Next season I’m looking into either cooking classes or yoga. Now I’m wondering if I should be exploring curling! But doesn’t the time over pizza and beer negate the some extra exercise. 🙂

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  5. I like your thought about trying one new thing per season. I recently started participating in a curling league (ice, stones & brooms) with some friends of mine from way back in high school. It’s a very challenging game and we all enjoy time over pizza & beer in the bar after each match on Thursday nights. I don’t know I’m going to commit to being on the Olympic curling team, but for this season, it’s been nice to try something new. It also connects me to old friends and gives me some extra exercise – so that ties to two long-term Life Vision goals.

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