Re-Imagining Retirement: Time

Sharon Rolph
Sharon Rolph

Time is too slow for those who wait, Too swift for those who fear, Too long for those who grieve, Too short for those who rejoice, But for those who love, time is Eternity. -Henry Van Dyke

Time is a precious commodity. Free. Freedom. Yet also priceless. How do you value time? Do you think about what you do with time?

This reminds me of my college days when classmates said they were going to use their study time at the waterfront park in Kirkland to watch and feed the ducks. But it was really a code for making out with their boyfriends.

In retirement, time can be a Get Out of Jail Free feeling, a time to watch the grandkids grow, or a burden that depresses and isolates you. Such a vast difference in how you feel about time! What makes the differences? Sometimes, it is our age and how young we feel or don’t feel. Sometimes, it’s about who is around us or not around us. Sometimes it’s about where we find ourselves: was it our choice or not so much?

What we do have a choice about is today. Have courage and choose to open the door and greet your neighbor. Have courage to walk around the block. Have courage to pick up the phone and check up on your old friends — you’ll both be better for it. Focus on breathing deep and slowly as you drink your coffee. Ah, its good!

You’ve accomplished so much to get where you are today. Time blessed you with amazing experiences. You’ve developed some or all of your talents. Your personality has evolved along with your likes and idiosyncrasies. You’ve met many curious people.

I challenge you to listen to your intuition and be curious and brave to try something new with your time freedom. It could put a smile on your face. A lightness in your heart. Effortless vitality, right? New choices are often a good thing.

Daniel Cable’s new book this year, Alive at Work, makes a huge point about bringing back the curiosity of a 5-year-old at work. When I wrote him about how this could apply to retirees also, here’s his response.

“I agree this is very relevant to retirement age folks, because the issue is that many people shut off their seeking systems after retirement. Without work, it is possible to rest into sitting around the house, without experimentation/learning/ self expression/sense of purpose. The result would be minor depressive symptoms, and less immunity to disease. I think that it is possible to trigger the seeking system, as described in the book, but we have to work at it, which means we need to be aware of it!”

Another great read for me this year was How to Have a Good Day. Caroline Webb shows how small tweaks in your behavior can ensure that the good days will outnumber the bad. What she means by a “good” day is a day when you can answer three key questions in the affirmative:

• Did you spend your time and attention on things that matter?
• Do you feel that you did a good job and had the support of others?
• Did the day leave you feeling more energized than depleted?

Her work is aimed at work and beyond, which applies even in retirement! Make it a practice to share your answers daily at dinner time. You’ll be glad you did.

My next What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with purpose in retirement workshop comes up Tuesday Sept. 25 at Garden Court Retirement Community from 10:30 to noon. Their address is 520 – 112th St. S.W. in south Everett 98204. Call to let them know you are coming at 425-438-9080.

NEW: Listen online Thursdays at 9 a.m. to Maximize Retirement at or on Roku.

— By Sharon Rolph

Sharon Rolph is a 25-plus-year resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds and earned her masters degree in applied behavioral science and bachelor’s degree in administration from City University. Her career includes many years at GTE and Boeing in Everett and Tukwila. She presents What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with Purpose in Retirement workshops at senior centers.


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