“So—Are you retired, too, or are you still working?”

A lot of people have asked me that in the year and a half since my husband retired and we moved to Georgia. And I’m never sure what to say.

For one thing, I’ve done freelance work for a number of years, and it’s the kind of work I can do from anywhere. All I really need are a phone and a computer. And, of course, clients. How actively I want to pursue acquiring clients is more the issue than whether I consider myself retired or still in the work force.

For another thing, I’m a writer, and I can’t imagine myself ever not writing – whether or not it’s the type of writing that earns an income. Even that doesn’t give as clear a definition as you would think. I got paid for the weekly newspaper column I wrote for 16 years when we lived in Minnesota. I still do the same type of writing in my weekly blog, but there is no payment other than the pleasure of writing it and of hearing from people who tell me that they enjoyed a particular blog post, or that it made a difference in their lives in some way.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ve come to realize that in retirement – or whatever it is that I’m in – I’m still as busy as I’ve ever been.

I decided to map out the different areas of my life, and list the different activities I am involved in within each one. This is actually similar to exercises I’ve worked on with coaching clients in the past, and it reminded me of the saying, “If you want to know someone’s priorities, don’t ask them. Instead, just look at their checkbook and their calendar.” The point is that there’s often a disconnect between what we say is important to us and what we spend our time and money on.

I didn’t have any eye-opening surprises as I mind-mapped my current life and activities. It was actually pretty satisfying, in fact, to see and acknowledge what’s important to me now, based on the amount of time and resources I spend on them. I’m happy to report that anyone looking at my calendar or checkbook would see that my family, friends, and faith are high priorities with me, in addition to activities like my writing, organizations like Toastmasters, and projects like my work in Uganda.

You might try this yourself sometime – just for fun, or if you feel the need or desire to make some adjustments in different areas of your life. Start with a few major categories: Family, Career, Health, and Leisure Activities, for example. Or any other areas of your life you’d like to include. Then list under each one the relevant activities and commitments you have, as well as any “wish-list” items you’d like to pursue. Then examine your list, and go from there.

You may discover an imbalance that you’d like to correct, or some new areas and activities you’d like to explore.

Or you may realize, as I did, that the busy life you are leading – and the work you are doing – are exactly right for you.

September 7, 2018
©Betty Liedtke, 2018

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