Posted by Tim Stobbs on November 2, 2016
Perhaps this is odd, but I’ve always had a sense of pride on my ability to use my willpower to finish difficult tasks. For example, I’ve completed writing 50,000 words in a month twice (National Novel Writing Month) and signed up for third time, I will read 100 books in a year (2016), and we have improved our net worth from $66,000 to ~$900,000 in ten years. None of those are easy, but I got them done. I feel good when I get a hard goal completed and do feel a bit of pride at my ability to endure.
But perhaps more interesting is asking myself: why did you endure it at all? Because when I ask that question I am forced to admit I likely have a lot more alternatives than I’m prepared to really examine. My current one is why am I enduring work at all? I could just leave tomorrow and be fine for like years and sort things out after the fact.
I think the honest answer is the fact that I’ve turn enduring almost a habit. Just a bit more to the next goal, just a bit further to the one after that. I’ve trained myself to a master level of making progress on some things in my life. I’ve tricked myself into an endless cycle of improvement that I’m not ever sure what the end of it lies sometimes or take the time to appreciate what I’ve accomplished.
This becomes apparent to me when I look at my ability to get things done. I’m very good at writing out a to do list for home or work and getting most of it done in a set period of time (week or weekend are the most common). Yet what I’m not good at is relaxing enough some days. I get so busy in the cycle of life I fail to step back and enjoy the view periodically. I’m too absorbed in getting the next item done on the to do list that I forgot the point of the list was just to remember things. Just because it is written down does not mean I need to do it right now.
So a deep concern I have going into retirement is: how will I adjust to all that free time? As I previous mentioned I could keep very busy if I wanted to, but the broader question is then why did I bother doing all of this if I’m just working as hard as having a full time job. Where is the payoff for enduring all these years towards a goal to merely replace it with some other goal?
Maybe I need to learn to do nothing. Sit alone with my thoughts and bask in the moment. Enjoy now and not look towards tomorrow to be happy. To exist in the sunny afternoon with not much to achieve but enjoying the sun. It isn’t that hard to just take a second and realize that you can have a happy moment just about any time of the day. To do lists don’t have to be complete, it’s okay to disappoint others at times or even yourself after you sign on to a overly hard goals. There is tomorrow and your to do list will never be done.