A retired friend and I were talking about her need to do something more with her life. Julia said, "I feel like I'm floundering. I need some direction. I look at my neighbors who go to work and I realize how much I miss the benefits of working. I really don't want to be back in the rat race, but I yearn for more focus and direction."
When I asked Julia, "What do you love to do?" and "What brings you joy?" her face lit up. Without hesitation she described the fun she recently experienced from baking cookies for a friend—beautifully decorating the cookies and wrapping up the container with white paper and ribbon.
Once we tapped into Julia's love of baking, we talked about opening a bakery business. That's when her energy plummeted. A business means she would have to get up at 4 a.m. and meet other people's expectations. Customers would insist on a wide assortment of cookies, not just the cookies that she felt like baking. There wouldn't be time, nor would it be cost effective to decorate the containers. Customers might complain about the price rather than express their gratitude. All the little things that bring Julia joy were threatened when she considered creating a business out of what she loved to do. This is when I suggested she "pretend to work".
Pretending to work is a concept I came up with while writing "What Will I Do All Day?" I noticed that workshop participants had fun coming up with an idea for pretending to work. Their energy levels remained high when we kept an idea at the pretending level. That's when I realized pretending to work, works!
Why does pretending to work, work?
- It's a great way to start today doing the things you love to do, and only those parts.
- When you pretend to work you don't need success to keep at it. The "quarterlies" don't determine if you continue or not. If it's fun and rewarding, you do it.
- You don't have to wait until you have an advanced degree. You can't claim to have credentials you haven't earned, but you can do what comes most naturally when using your gifts.
- You can be patient when you pretend to work. If you had to make money or increase your customer base by 25%, then you might get discouraged. Instead, you can wait for good things to come your way.
- You can be generous when you pretend to work. Giving away what you love to do means you'll get to do it more often, which means you'll have more opportunities to experience joy.
- Pretending to work has many of the benefits found in real work. You set goals that stretch you. You learn new things. You lie awake at night thinking about your work because it's fun to think about!
What about the money? This is the one difference between real work and pretend work. In pretend to work you do something for the love of it, not the love of money. It's what you do whether you are paid or not. It's possible that a pretend job might end up being quite lucrative and lead to a "real" job. On the other hand, it's very likely a real job will not come around if you don't first pretend. Pretending gets you over the fear, the first steps, the beginning of the beginning, and the critical voices that say you can't do it or make a living at it.
If you wish to create meaningful work in retirement, what can you begin to do now, even if you are just pretending?
Copyright 2016 Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.