How To Avoid The Trap Of Retirement Busyness

Busy as a bee? Avoid the trap of retirement busyness by adopting meaningful goals and activities for your retired life.

Talk to anyone who’s retired and you’ll hear stories about busyness. They can’t believe how they ever had time to do everything they do now AND work. You can’t help but wonder where does all that busyness come from? Here’s the thing: often people feel their identity and purpose disappear when they retire. So, in the absence of a job, they hang on to busyness to prove their self-worth.

Saying that we’re busy, feeling busy, and looking busy are all part of today’s reality no matter what your age. There’s a certain status and importance in saying you’re crazy busy. Keeping our kids busy and involved evolves into valuing busyness as a young adult. Being busy with work shows the world you are valuable and important.

Since work so often rewards you for producing, it’s easy to equate  busyness with personal success. Who hasn’t worked with people who always appear busy but produce very little? Somehow they get rewarded and admired for their frantic efforts but not for their results. We learn that the busier you seem, the better your chances are for workplace recognition. It doesn’t take long for busyness to become a part of daily life.

Retirement often begins with a need to re-create a life that is both familiar and comfortable.  As you step away from the whirlwind of work, it’s hard not to feel anxious about no longer having “important” things to do.  Granted, with retirement, you no doubt are looking for some well-earned down time. When someone asks what you’re up to, initially you may be fine saying, “absolutely nothing” and feel happy about it.

Avoid the trap of retirement busyness by writing goals and objectives for your retired life. Click To Tweet

However, keep in mind, doing “nothing” for the rest of your life is not going to make for a meaningful retirement. So, if you’re still offering this answer months after you retire, it may be time for some self-reflection.

If you decide it’s time to pursue new activities,  don’t let busyness become your solution. It’s way too easy to fall into the trap of “busyness” in retirement. If you just start doing random things to feel productive, eventually you’ll begin to question the quality of your retired life. You may even begin to wonder why you chose to retire in the first place.

If you’re looking to live a meaningful life in retirement, you need to move beyond just keeping yourself busy. Decide to add value to your life by identifying what’s really important to you.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • How can you use your skills and experience to help others?
  • What do you still want to learn and what are you curious about?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Which activities can you take part in  that will add purpose AND reward to your life? 

You need to get away from filling up your day with meaningless activities. Sure you’re busy and you feel productive but does whatever you’re doing really feel rewarding? Ultimately, you need to make the effort to set goals for yourself.  Try writing a retirement plan or a personal mission statement to help guide your way through retirement.

It’s so easy to do what you’ve always done. As in believing and saying you are busy in retirement because, after all, that was part of your daily work life.   That life was familiar to you.   Maybe you got tired of it, but you understood and accepted it.

Once you retire, you have the chance to channel your time and efforts into something that’s meaningful to you. Avoid the trap of retirement busyness.  Set yourself up for success in retirement by identifying what you can do that is both significant and meaningful.  Exchange overall busyness for impactful and relevant activities. 

Whether you are dreaming about the day you can retire or are suddenly faced with unforeseen early retirement, putting together a retirement plan can be a powerful way to begin working towards your ideal retirement. Our practical guide to Creating Your Own Retirement Plan includes guidance, a template, and a completed sample plan. For personalized assistance and guidance, please contact us.


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Showing 2 comments
  • Lanet

    I am going to retire soon. Everyone asks me what I’m going to do? I reply “Not a damn thing!” Why do people think you need to do something every minute of every day? I did that for 51 years!

  • Deborah Williams

    Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. It’s definitely the time to think about what you could do and not what you should do. The beauty of retirement is finally spending time just “being.” Enjoy it!

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