Guilty about Time Wasters?

As a recovering workaholic, I still feel guilty if I spend the afternoon doing the crossword, taking a nap, reading a book, writing a blog, or goodness, just sitting and enjoying the sunshine. Part of me feels like if I’m not working (meaning working for financial compensation), then I should be pursuing life meaning. Certainly not just wasting time.

But what is wasted time and what is pursuing life meaning?   I recently read a description that life meaning can come in many ways:

  • Having people in your life that truly love and care for you.
  • Adding value and contributing to something worthwhile.
  • Connecting to something that takes you outside yourself.
  • Communicating a personal narrative.

My blogging helps me express my life narrative. I share my experiences in the hopes of connecting to others – sharing, mentoring, validating.  I also hope in some small way my blogging is adding value to someone else! Using this description, my blogging (reading and writing) contributes to my pursuit of life meaning, and is not wasting time.

But is there more to understanding the pursuit of life meaning to help me relieve the guilt, because there is the more (or actually less) to this lazy afternoon than just blog writing.

Is pursuit of life meaning simply meaningful pursuits?

What meaningful to me (or you) could be one big thing or many smaller things. It could be continuing to work part-time doing gig consulting. Or, it could be traveling, exploring, or having new experiences. Or being active and healthy, or connected to others, or financially secure.   Or learning how to spend quiet time and just be quiet for an afternoon. Or a blend of many of these into the unique retirement lifestyle I’ve dreamed about!

I often joke that I was raised on guilt.   I am coming to believe retirement is a time for a learning curve to free myself of living on guilt. How can I learn to be OK with days of no pre-planned, structured activity? How can I eliminate my comparative inferiority struggle and feeling no self-worth if I’m not working (when so many friends and cohorts are working)?  How can I find the joy in a lazy afternoon?

I am learning to love this new lifestyle of slower days, time to have coffee and listen to the morning bird chatter, fitting in a regular yoga class, and taking a mid-day walk with a friend.  I need to continually remind myself to not feel guilty and to appreciate even the lazy “time wasting moments” are part of my meaningful pursuits for my 21st century retirement lifestyle.

Do you feel guilty? Have you conquered your guilt?   Or are you one of the lucky ones who never had the guilt trip about wasting time?

Picture Credit: Pixabay



Thoughts on “What Do You Do?”

I love the serendipity when different bloggers begin talking about a similar question or life element.   Recently, there’s been a few talking about answering the question for soon-to-be retirees – what do you do everyday in retirement?  Or how do you answer the commonly asked question “What do you do?” if you are no longer working? And another who asked: “Are you living your best retirement possible?” I love that last question used the word ‘your’ versus ‘the’, indicating that the author understands everyone’s ideal retirement is different. Looking at how others are living their retirement should be for inspiration not replication!

So this blog is a snapshot of what I do – how I’m living my retirement days – for inspiration.

One blogger talked about a way to really understanding where you spend your energy – your time and your mind-space – is to log it.  Capture a few days or weeks of reality – What are all the activities you’re doing this week/this month?  List the major commitments, minor commitments, planning, basic life errands/chores, time wasters (social media time suck!), and quiet time. Being a planner and a list maker, I could easily look back over a month to see what I did.

By having a detailed account of where you spend your time, you can also look to see if it is in line with what’s really important to you. Are you making conscious choices, or defaulting into activities because you think you should be doing them? It’s not that you will stop doing something, but you might adjust expectations on outcomes. If you only spend 5 hours a week on a project, when realistically will it get done?  Every “yes” to time spent on one activity is a “no” to time spent on another.

What did my monthly log look like? It’s a blend of activities that actually match my life vision!  But I also noticed that it is not necessarily balanced in the right level of time spent.  I knew this month was going to be high on consulting work, so I was pleasantly surprised I kept up many other things on my life vision, even at reduced levels.

  • New Home Activities – lots of time spent on this huge life changing activity (our rightsizing moment) – home inspection, contractor discussions, packing, donations gathered and dropped off, the closing, picking out paint colors.
  • Consulting Work – a lot this month – besides 5 full day trips, multiple hours on many other days.  Too much and something I need to address going forward.
  • Fun with Friends – multiple dinners out, a couple of coffee dates and walks, attended 2 open houses, Leading Ladies charity event.
  • Time with Tim (hubby) – besides dinners with friends & the house things, also did our favorite specialty store shopping, date night Playhouse, and supported his eye surgery days.
  • Me Time – daily journaling; daily crossword; blog reading & writing (not as much as desired); physical therapy; weekly Zumba & yoga (most weeks)
  • Caretaking – shopping excursions, issue resolutions
  • Planning – planning activities with friends, planning The Move, planning the upcoming Big Trip, planning swim lessons
  • Errands/Chores – gift shopping, finances update, bills, spring yard work, spring cleaning, and car service.

One thing I’ve noticed is life in retirement means no two weeks or months are the same. May was a heavy-work month while June will be a light-work month. That’s the consulting world if you’re part-timing it. But also, the seasonal changes mean doing different things and there are always new things from my possibilities list to plan and execute.   In retirement, I am trying new experiences, building new relationships, exploring new possibilities.   I’m also working on not feeling guilty if I spend the afternoon doing the crossword, taking a nap, reading a book, or writing a blog.

Someone once said the answer to “what do you do everyday in retirement?” is … “whatever I want to!”   And when those activities are linked to what’s important to you (your life vision, your life purpose), retirement life is pretty darn fun.


Does the Gig Economy Help with Work/Life Balance?

Work-life balance is an older term that was created to mean you were making sure both elements had an adequate existence in your life. Many would say that it is a pipe dream. Some people have an innate sense of being able to balance the two elements. Others are more challenged to not become workaholics.   The gig economy is recently cited as the way for anyone to get more work-life balance.  Now, being an active participant in the gig economy, I believe that is a myth. The gig economy can be just as brutal as working in a MegaCorp or a small business in trying to balance work and life.

What is the Gig Economy? The corporate workforce profile is radically and rapidly changing from formal long-term employment agreements to a sea of contingent workers and independent contractors. The Wall Street Journal estimates 1 in 3 US workers are now free-lancers. Corporations are paying purchase orders, not salaries. This is beyond Uber and AirBnB.   All types of people are working remotely and temporarily, without the security of employer-sponsored benefits.

In the gig economy it is often assumed you are always available to do work.   When it is all about the gig, there are no set hours of work time/off time, no paid vacation time. Sure, you can not work. But no-work means no-pay.  And sometimes the gig is not even hourly, but based on a project deliverable. Get the work done, no matter how many hours you put in.

The gig economy also means you are always in search of the next gig. No next gig, no-pay. Everything can become about connecting and every connection can become a selling connection.  I recently read a blogger who bragged about getting her next gig at a family wedding reception.

As a recovering workaholic, a gig economy can be a challenge. Saying no and keeping boundaries on work/life balance was always a challenge for me. It is easy to get caught up in the work cycle again. I am finding this the case as I do my consulting projects. Single-fee projects and my perfectionism-work-ethic are not a good combination!

Yes, as an early retiree, I’ve joined this phenomenon that is being driven by Millennials. I am an active participant in the gig economy.  (I feel quite hip saying that!)  And, I’ve heard the claims about this helping with work-life balance and I’m not sure it’s reality.  This past month I worked way too many hours.  If I continue doing consulting gigs, I’ll need to find new techniques for maintaining time for the elements of my retirement life style that I’ve learned to love (like blogging)!


Picture Credit: Pixabay