Reading: It’s Your Time

The New (Un)Retirement

It’s Your Time

You stopped working, but not to become everyone's dogsbody

By Erica Baird and Karen Wagner

Photo by Emily Johnston

You’ve been working 24/7. For decades. In a great job. You grocery shopped and cleaned, but were lucky to earn enough to hire help to run your home and raise your babies. Someone to hit the CVS for that last bit of construction paper for a school project, to pick up the dry-cleaning while the stores were still open.

Now, you have retired. Suddenly, everyone around you thinks you are the housekeeper. The scheduler. The plumber. The electrician. The chief cook and bottle washer. Your children, your spouse, your friends, have “important” out-of-the-home jobs, and they think you can do all the stuff they no longer have time for. Or don’t want to make time for.

They ask if you mind. And you feel you can’t say no.

But here’s the truth. You didn’t work as hard as you did so that when you finished a long and illustrious career you could become everyone’s dogsbody. The whole point of ending that phase of your life is that you now get to choose what you want to do with your time. Maybe you would like to cook for the family, or rewire that mid century lamp.

Or maybe you would not.

It’s your choice.

Same goes for those new ventures you’ve begun to explore. Did you hook up with an amazing not-for-profit because it needed your expertise? But once you got involved, were you relegated to party planner? If you don’t enjoy it, just say no. You offered them your experience and your contacts, not administrative support for activities that do not interest you. Did you offer to fill in for a friend who needed to take care of a sick relative? You did it so well they now want more of a commitment. Nice compliment.  But it was a favor, not your job. Not what you want to do. Say no. (Nicely, of course.)

Here’s the second truth: How you think about your time now is important. It is yours. You earned it. If you still need to make money, that is a valid external constraint which requires responding to the demands of others. But if money is no longer your issue, you get to decide how you want to spend your time.

And that should be, exactly as you wish.

Adapted from Lustre.is

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Meg Whitman

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