Sunday, December 22, 2019

My Favorite Things

Most of us are familiar with the popular song from The Sound of Music: “My Favorite Things.” As the lyrics state—raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens—it is the little things in life that can bring us joy and satisfaction.  

These favorite things are also a great place to look for an answer to “What will I do all day?” When we know what delights us, we can use this awareness to make the most of the extra time we have in retirement. Time spent doing our favorite things is a great way to add meaning, direction, and enjoyment to the extra hours we have when we’re not going into the office everyday.

One of my favorite things to do is bake cookies—big cookies. When my children were young, I often had to bake cookies for their class parties. Baking cookies was one more task I had to squeeze into my day, usually after the kids had gone to bed.

Now that I have more time and fewer commitments, I can enjoy the process of baking. I take my time. It is the experience of measuring, mixing, and smelling the freshly baked cookies that I take pleasure in—I’m not rushing through the process just to get it done. This is where the mindset in retirement is different.

What are some of your favorite things? Write them down. Consider what it is about each experience that delights you.

Next, consider how you can delight in this “favorite” even more. I call it selling up. For example, after baking cookies on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I packaged them in brown paper packages tied up with string (I’m not kidding!) Then my husband and I delivered them to elderly friends in the nursing home. My favorite thing, baking cookies, became the favorite part of the day for several other people. I know that many of them didn’t “feel so bad” after our visit. Favorite things have a way of doing that.

To get the most out of your favorites, let yourself get totally immersed in the experience. Multiply your joy by seeking out others to enjoy the experience. And think about ways that you can sell-up your list of favorites. I can almost guarantee that on a day when the bee stings and you’re feeling sad, after doing one of your favorite things you won’t feel so bad.

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Noun vs. Verb

I’ve been thinking a lot about work identity.

This topic is also on the minds of the people in my retirement workshops. For many of us, our work identities are so tightly connected to our personal identities that what we do is who we are. We’ve built reputations on what we do, how well we do it, and how society views the importance or significance of what we do. Relinquishing this identity can negatively impact our confidence and happiness.

Perhaps there is another way to think of our work and our not working.  

Dr. Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at University of Texas at Austin suggests we “treat our career more like a verb than a noun.” He claims, “as soon as you give a label to something, you come to believe that somebody or some object has essence of that thing. A cat — why is a cat a cat? It has essence of a cat. That’s true not just for biological categories, it’s true even for professions.”

According to Markman, “Your job title doesn’t define you. It’s just one slice of your identity, and swapping out one for another doesn’t change the core of who you are.” Click here to read full story.

When we make the shift to thinking about our career as a verb, it’s easier to release some attachment to this identity. It also builds confidence in trying new identities. Try it.

The next time you’re asked, “What do you do?” remember “do” is a verb.

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.