Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Road of Discovery

A good way to discover what you need and want in retirement is to be reminded of what you don’t want. Let me explain.

This week when my husband asked what I had planned for the week I went through my daybook. After mentioning a couple meetings, conference calls, and yoga class, I said, “Not enough.”

If “not enough” is your response, then it’s time to do something about it. That’s the advice I’d give you, so it’s the advice I gave myself as I entered a home decorating fabric studio and saw an announcement for a part-time sales associate position posted on the door.

Hmmm, maybe this is a “god-thing.” Maybe I’m supposed to apply. I love handling fabrics and transforming rooms. I know a lot about fabric—my undergraduate degree is in textiles and clothing. Spending time in this environment will nurture my creative spirit and address my need for more social interaction.

I was scared to inquire about the position, but then asked myself, 

“What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” 

The answer, “I’d mention my interest in the position to my sales associate.” So, I did. She went to the back of the store and brought out the store manager.

I told the manager about my knowledge and experience with fabrics and decorating. Then she told me about the hours and expectations of the position. 
  • Three Saturdays each month. 
  • At least three days each week. 
  • Schedules created a month in advance, so no last minute decisions to get out of town for a few days. 
The manager reminded me, “This is retail.” She’s right. Retail requires that staff be available when people are available to shop. So why did this information deflate my enthusiasm for the position?

When I got back to my car I was proud of myself for asking about the job. I didn’t allow fear to hold me back. Yet, when I thought about committing 3 out of 4 Saturdays to the design studio, my interest plunged. Ideally, I could set my own hours—have a place to go when I’m available, not according to a pre-determined schedule. The pay wouldn’t matter much if I had this freedom.

Take away the freedom, and the pay matters more—more than it pays.

So will I apply? No. If the decision was only mine to make and I didn’t have to think of anyone else, then yes, I’d consider it. In this situation, a Saturday could be just the same as any other day of the week. But, I’m in a partnership with my husband. Having only one Saturday each month to be free with him is not enough when we have other choices.

Does this mean I will never find a place for creative expression and social interaction? No. But most likely it will not be in retail. Perhaps a non-profit organization or my own consulting business is where I need to look for and create opportunities.

I feel like I made progress today, even though I’m no closer to having more on my schedule. By being reminded of what I don’t want—that I won’t give up the freedom that retirement offers—I’ll look for opportunities elsewhere. I’ll speak up, just as I did today. And eventually, what I want and what I need will come together.

How about you?

What do you need in retirement?

Does your schedule have too many gaps or lack meaningful activities or involvement?

Where can you start to address this need? What do you think will add meaning and fun to your schedule? What will you look into, even if you are afraid?

Take note of what you learn once you take action. Today I learned that I place more value on my freedom than I realized. In moving forward, I’ll look for opportunities that sustain my freedom, not suppress it.

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