I remember when I would set goals and sub-goals and sub-sub-goals. I had a 5-year plan and a 10-year plan and a 25-year plan. I often thought about what kind of person I wanted to be, where I wanted to be and what I wanted to have done by the time I was 50 (that seemed like old-age to me then!). I liked to set these long-range goals then work backwards to the present with action steps and timelines. I strived to be the best I could be and tried hard to make each day count. The more I did the better I felt about myself.
I used to read many self-help books, like The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan, 1973, that gave me an exhaustive plan for being the perfect superwoman I wanted to be. Right now, today, I hyperventilate just thinking about it!
This past week I opened more than a few emails telling me there were 10 things (or more) I needed to do in order to be successful. I took one of them seriously because I thought maybe I could add a little zip to my laid-back-self if I followed a “simple” early morning check list for purposeful living. It started easy enough with just three things you must do to begin your day successfully, but then it went on to add how-to steps under each one and then bullet points under each of those. It didn’t take long before I felt tense and wanted to close my i-pad and run for more coffee!…not at all what I consider “simple”. In fact, I felt like re-naming the article, “An Intense and Complicated Way to Ruin the Beginning of Any Day”.
Instead I smiled to myself. Goal setting is good. Taking advantage of the days that are given to us to live life to the fullest and in the best way we can is good. But this Gran Finale time of life is when we get to say what makes each day successful. We can work our lists at our own pace, or not work them at all. There’s not a manual or a Retirement Police that say a successful retirement must look a certain way.
BUT one sure way to ruin a perfectly glorious retirement day is to should myself with a list of things to do that ‘someone’ says will measure my success or purposeful living index. I should do this, I should do that, I should be this way, or be that way, or go there, or say that, or buy that, or not eat that… I should… I should.
I thought of Winnie-the-Pooh and something I remembered him saying:
“What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet
“My favorite day,” said Pooh”
I think he might respond the same way I did to the grandiose 10-ways-to-be-successful lists.
“What I like doing best is Nothing.” (said Christopher Robin)
“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
“Oh!” said Pooh.” -A.A.Milne
From what ‘shoulds’ has retirement freed you? How do you feel about giving them up, or not?