Time Is On Your Side, Yes It Is!

by on October 21, 2010

Time Is On Your Side, Yes It Is!


While much is made of those reaching mid-life who have not either adequately saved for retirement, or who have seen their investments diminished due to the recent economic downturn, there are a good number of people who have prepared well financially for this point in their life.  One of the issues that this group faces when they do decide to leave their primary means of employment, is what do I do now?  The years of employment provided them a built in structure which helped schedule their time, provided social connections and aligned for them the times in their life which were focused on work related tasks and those which were focused on non-work related tasks.

When I moved on from my corporate career, I found it important to still look to plan out my time.  While certainly, I did not want to live with every minute accounted for, (after all one of the benefits of moving on from your place of employment is so much of your time is now available for you to enjoy as you choose) I still wanted to use my time optimally.  That required some time to do a review of where my life was at the time, and where I wanted it to head going forward.  Among the things I allowed myself to do was:

1.) Identify any long term projects that had been put off, but which I wanted to complete – In my case I knew I wanted to complete the redecorating of my condominium.   It was a project that had been started when my wife was beginning her cancer treatments, was postponed as her condition worsened, and which after she passed, I did not have the time on which to focus while working full-time.  Having the time and ability to visit with decorators, go to the store to pick out colors, new furniture and schedule workers while I was free to be home, made the process far less stressful than if I was balancing it with the obligation of a full-time work position.  What is that major project that you have been putting off on which you can now focus?

2.) Enjoy the Season – I left my position in November of 2007.  It meant that I was able to truly enjoy the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.  Many years while working, those holidays would sneak up on me, such that while I may have actually celebrated them when they occurred, I was too exhausted to truly enjoy them.  My wife for many years did the shopping for our family members.  After her passing, that fell to me.   Being able to do that during weekdays, when stores were emptier, allowed me to both get into the spirit of giving to my relatives and enjoy the process at a pace that worked well for me.  Even if you do not leave your job during the holiday period, you may find you now have the ability to take that day or weekend trip that was difficult while you were working.  If you are a skier, you may able to enjoy the slopes during the week than on the weekend.  Again, the time is now available to you.  Enjoy it for the gift it is.

3.)    Set a Long Term Target as to When You Want to Focus On What You Want to do Next in Your Life –  One of the things you do find you have when you do end your employment is the luxury of time.  It is yours to use as you choose.  That’s a blessing if you keep yourself active and look to spread it out over various activities that you enjoy.  However, it can be a burden if you have never really taken the time to decide how you want to live your life going forward.

Find the right balance between enjoying your new found freedom and getting stuck in a pattern where you are frustrated that you are bored because you have “nothing to do”.  Usually after a few months, the desire for some structure in your life likely will creep in.  At that point, you will want to sit down and plan your thoughts on what you would like to do next.  This can certainly be done alone, or with the help of professionals.  In my case, I took advantage of the services of an outplacement firm, which provided me both a great deal of material to review to put together my thoughts, but also had me working with other people in similar situations in their life.  The key message is, first give yourself time to enjoy your new found free time and then commit to focusing on activities that you want to introduce into your life.  Again, it’s just another opportunity available to you to structure your life as you choose.

4.)    Stay Open To New Ideas and Experiences – When you leave your employment, you are undertaking a major change in your life.  However, it also opens up to you the ability to explore entirely new worlds that may have never been open to you before.  As I look at my life today at 55 years old, it definitely is different than I imagined it would be at 50 years old.  I’m working in an entirely new career, have made a number of new friends and acquaintances through that career switch, find myself walking more, watching television less and enjoying new ways of relaxing in my spare time (reading more and doing Sodoku puzzles come to mind).

The point is, I’ve become more flexible to the fact that I’m capable of doing whatever I wish, as long as I have an interest in pursuing it.  I’m certainly calmer than I have been at any time in my life.  I find I take things with more enjoyment and less intensity, particularly if not every aspect goes as I expect.  Above all, I’m enjoying my life as it is, and I am open to new experiences continuing to come to me as I move forward.

Yes, not everything that is going on around us in our world today is ideal.  One can get concerned about their future, especially if they take everything they see provided to them in their preferred source of media to heart.  However, if you have reached this point of your life and have been given the gift of time to assess how you want to move forward, take some of it to chart that course you desire.  It will help you to face the experiences that will come your way with a new found focus and acceptance that may not have ever been there before.

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