Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Being Unreasonable

Four years ago, when my husband and I signed an eight-month lease for a beautiful downtown apartment in Saratoga Springs, our friends questioned our decision. Why are you doing this? They figured if we wanted to go to Saratoga, we could drive up and back in the same day. It’s only 70 miles each way. Sounds reasonable. The status quo usually is. However, I was looking for more than a day trip. I was looking for a life change.

My interest in a long-term lease in Saratoga arose from feeling stuck and dissatisfied with my current living environment. I had lived in the same small town and the same big house for over 30 years. I never imagined my life story all in one chapter.

Author Seth Godin writes, “The only way to get out of the spot you’re in is to do something that feels unreasonable, that’s unreasonable in the short term, that a similar person in a similar situation would say is unreasonable.” My friends had already confirmed this point. And so, I decided I was willing to be unreasonable, at least for eight months, to challenge the status quo.

And do you know what happened? I got unstuck. 

If you want to do something more worthwhile with your life, if you want to get unstuck, ask, “Am I willing to be unreasonable, a least for a while?” And then go do it.

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

What do you do for fun?

Over the past 10 years that I’ve been speaking and writing about retirement, I’ve given a lot of advice on how to answer the question, “What do you do?” I’ve encouraged people to have an answer for this question before their first day of retirement. And here’s the challenge—they can’t just talk about what they’ve done. The question is in the present tense.

Something I haven’t done is to prepare people for another question—one that seems easy, but recently when I was asked, “What do you do for fun?” I couldn’t come up with an immediate answer. I was taken aback, and a little embarrassed. It was meant to be a simple question. So I’ve spent some time thinking about why it was so complex, and what I want to learn from it.

“What do I do for fun?”

I could talk about my retirement writing and speaking, and although some of it is fun, it’s also work.

My volunteer roles are meaningful, and they draw upon my strengths, but are they fun? Most of the time they’re more like work. I receive many of the benefits of work, such as belonging to a community, making a difference, etc. There is value in these benefits, but fun? Not really.

 I spend a lot of time exercising. It’s good for me and I love the benefits, but it’s not what I’d call fun. It’s discipline.

So what is fun and why is it important to know what I do for fun?

When I know what is fun for me, I’ll do it more often. I’ll find ways to combine it with meaningful ways to contribute and make a difference. For example, I love to bake and decorate cookies. I’ve made cookies for a friend’s bridal shower, cookies representing a non-profit’s logo, the number 90 for my dad’s 90th birthday celebration, and cookies with my son’s company logo, packaged as if they were a box of business cards. This is fun. 

Sitting at a high top counter at my favorite coffee shop and writing while sipping an extra hot café mocha is fun.

Creating personalized gifts and cards for people is fun.

Searching online for houses and visiting open houses is fun.

Shopping with my daughter and sister is fun.

Playing with my granddaughters is fun.

Why does it matter that you know what you do for fun? By increasing your awareness of what brings you joy and delight, you’ll invest more time and energy in doing it more often. You’ll invite more fun into your life. And more fun is fun!

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.