I love receiving unexpected emails from people who have read my book or enrolled in my online course, A Guide to Take the Weirdness Out of Retirement. They often give me something to think about, which is the case for a message I received from Clark.
Hi, Patrice. Just finished reading "What Will I Do All Day?". Thanks for a great book! It gave me lots to think about and consider that I hadn't before. After reading your book I know now that retirement is a process and that what I am doing now I will most likely continue to do in retirement….I like my job and can't seem to find the time to develop any non-work interests! Do you have any suggestions on how a person can "make time" for activities outside of work? Thanks, again for a great read!
Clark is referring to the chapters I wrote about work serving as one’s lifeline—an energy source—which is great! But when you consider cutting yourself off from this energy source, then what do you do? Where will you find something that is equally rewarding and engaging?
These questions and concerns are the reason I suggest developing interests outside of work while you’re still working. Without an answer to, “What will I do all day?” it’s more comfortable to keep working. But if you don’t address that question now, while working, you’ll never feel prepared to step over the line into retirement.
Clark agrees, but he doesn’t know how to do this. How does he make time for activities outside of work? He’s hoping I have some suggestions.
I do. It’s called a Thursday Project.
My question for Clark is: “While a lot of your time and mind space is consumed with your full-time position, can you find it within yourself to create?” When I say, “find it within yourself to create,” I’m referring to that thing you’re curious about, or like to think about, or imagine doing when you have more time in retirement. What you create should bring pleasure and enjoyment. You do it for you, because it’s what you like to think about.
When I spoke with a young man who is in the challenging stages of founding a start-up technology company, he described a side project he’s working on. I asked, “Do you like to think about this stuff?” He said, “I’m obsessed with it.” You might think this extra project is distracting him from the work that needs to be done in his “real job.” Actually, it’s the opposite. The distraction helps to clear his mind so that when we returns to work, he sees new solutions. He says a Thursday Project is a way to force yourself to take a metaphorical walk around the block. To clear your head and give you additional clarity.
Tim Harford, author of Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives, would agree that a new project provides a fresh context. “Instead of distracting us from other work, the variety grabs our attention.” Harford suggests, “While we’re paying attention to one project, we may be unconsciously processing another. If we turn to a totally different project, the unconscious mind can ‘chew over a problem’. Each project provides an escape from the others.”
Thursday Project is not exactly a “weekend hustle” because, well, it’s not on the weekend. It’s intentionally woven into the week in order to mesh work life with some other life you are curious about. Naturally, Thursday Projects can be extended into your weekend hustle, and that’s great, but they do not need to be. It’s lower risk in that it’s only a few hours a week and you can still have your weekends to do whatever. It’s also more contextualized because it happens during your “work week.”
It might seem that adding one more thing to your life will increase stress. After all, you’re already maxed out. So, if your idea for a Thursday Project feels stressful, it’s not by definition a Thursday Project. Instead, a Thursday Project can be a comforting outlet when you’re feeling over stressed. It can help from a sanity standpoint, and it can benefit you professionally.
When I helped a very busy business owner identify a possible Thursday Project, she said, “I feel like this is two hours each week that I give to myself. It’s invigorating to carve out time to create. It’s an opportunity to test the waters for something I might like doing in retirement.”
Play with the idea of a Thursday Project. When something pops into your mind, call it your Thursday Project for a while and see how it feels. Crazy ideas are some of the most interesting to work on. Make Thursday Project part of your vocabulary.
A Thursday Project is a gift to yourself. Instead of waiting until retirement to do something you enjoy or want to learn, start now and enjoy the benefits.
Copyright 2020. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.