Is your retirement happiness compromised by too many commitments? Is your daily/weekly schedule overloaded? Are you stressed out with too little time to smell the roses? Do you have time for goofing off or doing nothing?
Too many retired people say they are busier than ever. As a result, they find themselves overwhelmed because a plethora of activities fill the day leaving little time for themselves.
My Story of Too Many Commitments
I struggle with over-commitment.
After retirement, I wanted to keep purpose in my life. As a result, I got involved with various organizations as a volunteer including not for profit boards, church committees, and community initiatives.
I also started this blog without understanding just how much time would be needed to write blog posts and to keep up the blog. I revived a project of writing a family cookbook and started another writing project of stories for my grand-daughter.
I took courses in gardening, photography, coding, cooking, knitting, and writing — and found little time to act on what I learned. Instead, I went on to take more courses!
When reviewing journal entries over the past year, too often my daily writing ends with “too much to do…… too little time”.
Overcommitment often leaves me with feelings of anxiety and distress. Instead of looking forward to the day, I worry about how I’ll get everything done. I go into ‘determination’ mode instead of ‘pleasure’ mode.
I’m tired of telling people I’m too busy. It feels like an excuse and a form of irresponsibility. Where is retirement bliss when I’m frantic about all that I’m expecting myself to do in a day?
Taking Stock of Commitments
What makes retired people ‘busy’?
Perhaps there are commitments made before retiring when there was concern about staying active and involved. When I look back, this is where my overcommitment began.
Perhaps there is over-involvement with family including obligations for elder care or babysitting grandchildren. Because of lack of affordable child care, many retired folks are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren. They begin by helping out and find themselves tied to a schedule that exhausts energy levels.
Perhaps there are clubs or groups with extra demands for time. Many organizations depend on volunteer help. It’s easy to become deeply involved with worthy organizations. Unfortunately, there are few exit options.
Perhaps there are activities or hobbies that take too much time while providing limited satisfaction. I play bridge occasionally with a woman who collects small antiques and re-sells these items. She spends almost every day in second-hand shops buying her ‘finds’ which include not only the re-sale items but also many things that she neither needs nor wants.
Over the past two months I’ve taken a page from time management gurus. I took a hard look at my schedule and did an audit of how I’m spending my time.
On the negative side I’m spending hours every month travelling to meetings or sitting in meetings! Horror of horrors! This is how I spent too much of my working life. I also found that my limited computer skills result in hours spent trying to solve technical problems.
On the positive side, I spend a good amount of time in the kitchen, at the gym, and with family activities including child care when my grand daughter’s Montessori school has professional development days.
Because good health through nutrition and physical activity are retirement priorities, I won’t compromise time spent cooking and eating foods made from fresh ingredients. I won’t stop going to the gym or doing my daily walks. Most of all, I won’t compromise time I spend with my grand-daughter.
As an outcome of what I’ve learned about how I spend time, I’m in the process of making changes.
I have resigned from two not-for-profit boards where volunteer time means reading long tomes of board materials, participating in committees, sitting in uncomfortable board rooms, and travelling to and from meetings. One of my church committees has finished its work and is disbanding so that commitment has ended. I found someone who helps me with occasional technical glitches with my blog.
I’m still left with decisions like whether belonging to two book clubs, exercising at the gym four days a week, and playing bridge two or three times a week are excessive. At the moment, I’m evaluating how to modify these activities.
Dealing with too many commitments
Set priorities for yourself by periodically re-assessing interests and retirement aspirations. Nobody expects you to continue with an over-achieving, over-scheduled lifestyle during retirement years. It’s time to de-stress, to live to the beat of your own drummer.
Make commitments sparingly. A commitment means giving a sacred gift — the gift of your time. A decision to invest personal time needs as much thought as a financial investment decision.
Adjust priorities as needs and interests change. Retirement doesn’t mean you stop changing or growing. You get tired of certain activities. New opportunities arise and you want to take advantage of them.
Keep your life in balance. Too much free time leads to boredom. Too much activity leads to stress, distraction and frenzy.
Say NO. If you were brought up with the value of honouring commitments you make, then keeping commitments is important. A thoughtful no is better than a yes that leads to regret.
Too many commitments result in a full schedule. The result is insufficient time to enjoy and appreciate the benefits of retirement. Taking time to get a fresh perspective will help in shaping the precious days of retirement time by making time for what is truly important.
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