Dorothy Cantor in her book “What do you want to do when you grow up?” describes a state of being common to retirees whereby decisions of what to do with their time may be overly influenced by feelings of what they should be doing. Not living and enjoying the long-awaited I-can-do-what-I-want-now-that-I-am-retired, but instead feelings of guilt or duty guide actions. Dorothy describes one retiree who feels she should read all of the books stacked on her shelves even though she is no longer interested in their contents. After taking them down – and there are some heavies in the list – she decides that in fact she does not want to read these, she in fact does not HAVE to read these, and so she follows her wild and free retirement heart and just says no. What a relief!
Your retirement life is your time to do what you want – finally. Feelings of responsibility to do what others think you should do are misdirected. You have the right and the need to live your life and let them live theirs. Your main motivation should be to enjoy retired life to the fullest – you have earned the right. If you don’t want to read it, don’t. If volunteering is not for you, even though it can be very rewarding to some, look down another avenue. Remember, you are no longer working for a boss, you no longer have to complete your job duties, and you answer to no one except yourself. Well, maybe your spouse shares in the “proper management” of your decisions but you run the ship together!
Retirement is no time for feelings of guilt. Retire to the good life! You are focused on living in the present moment and experiencing life to its fullest. Guilt over things not done will not change the fact that they were not done. And if you decide you want to do something now, do it for the right reasons – because you want to, because you are passionate about doing it, because you freely choose to do it. Buddha said “live every act fully, as if it were your last.” Do the right thing because it is right for you. That course of action effectively addresses and neutralizes the “I really should…” trap which, after all, you really should…
Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.