I always say my “mission” these days is to do meaningful work in retirement. I don’t necessarily mean paid work – in fact I haven’t chosen to work for pay since my Encore Fellowship ended about 10 months ago.
I figure writing this down and making it public will help to keep me accountable, and also appreciate when I have actually accomplished more than it might feel like I have.
Do Meaningful Work
To me this simply means, spending time and energy on things that contribute to my personal priorities.
- helping family members who are getting less independent
- working out regularly, and hiking with friends
- managing our financial decisions
- engaging in local climate & sustainability projects
- blogging and tweeting about books/finance/sustainability
- maintaining & building relationships
- working on little projects for my family members
So let’s see – How did I do this week?
Looking at my calendar and journal (such as it is), I can see that I actually did something toward each of my priorities!
1. Helped my Aunt, who unfortunately is nearly blind now, with tasks related to her recent move to a new apartment. You know, things like; setting up her computer & printer, assembling new shelving units, hassling with at&t to get the phone working, getting groceries in the house, and whatever else she asked for a bit of help with. As far as I’m concerned, good, meaningful work.
2. 3 days at the gym with Mr Susty Themes, and 1 hike in the foothills with a good friend who recently retired from our former corporate employer. Good times, good conversation, time meaningfully spent on relationships and health.
3. We joke that I’m the accountant for the family. We both completely understand our financial situation, of course, but I’m the one who enjoys reading about financial independence and retirement strategies. This past week I listened to a webinar about Social Security strategies put on by my retirees group, and figured out a recommendation for which Dogs of the Dow my husband should sell to capture some gains within our tax threshold for this year. (Which he did, just before the market went down at the end of the week! We don’t market-time, but we love it when we get lucky on our re-balancing timing).
4. I’m involved with a community group in my city that is advocating for the option to use much more renewable energy (solar, wind, etc). In my State of California, and 5 other states, laws have been passed that enable city and county governments to pool (or aggregate) the electricity demand of their communities and directly supply cleaner energy that helps fight climate change.
It’s called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) or Community Choice Energy (CCE).
This week, I made some updates to our community advocates website for CCE (a recently developed skill I try to contribute), and stayed current with the latest progress in my region regarding cities who are successfully moving ahead. I’m looking to do more here if I can keep my flexibility and be paid something for my efforts.
5. I don’t have a formal schedule for blog posts. They tend to coincide with me finishing a book I want to write a review for, or an issue we’re facing in our household.
On Labor Day weekend, I dropped my iPhone and the screen cracked badly 🙁
On the bright side, I also made my first blog dollar through my Amazon Affiliate links this past week (woo-hoo!) So, I wrote a short post about how oddly exhilarating that was 😉 , and I’m drafting a post about my decision to take this opportunity to try out a less expensive cell phone plan with Republic Wireless and make the transition to an Android smartphone (a bit scary…)
6. Mr Susty Themes and I celebrated his Birthday with a long weekend getaway together, which was really enjoyable time at Lake Tahoe. The weather was wonderful, and it was a great, rejuvenating time away from the things we get involved with when we’re at home.
I also had a nice long phone call with my parents, who recently moved out of our family home and into assisted living. I count these calls among the most “meaningful work” I do these days. This is how I learn what they might need, and sometimes triggers a little project or a trip back to help out with some things.
7. This week, I kept chugging away on a cool project I’m enjoying doing for my family, to digitize our old 35mm slides! Oh my gosh – there are so many great memories in those, and it’s so great Mom and Dad took all these photos over the years! But…they’re sort of trapped in a form that prevents us from easily enjoying them.
Since I started this project about 6 weeks ago, and have gradually released years of our lives out onto the cloud for the family to re-experience and comment on, I’ve just had so much fun! And more importantly, my parents, 2 sisters, and cousins who have seen some of the photos have been so enthusiastic and grateful that it’s a very fulfilling labor of love!
My parents, especially, say “Thank you Daughter….the best part is seeing these photos once again. They mean so much more to us now, in this stage of life. Brings back happy, happy memories“. That right there makes it worth all the research and tedium of photographing 1000+ slides!
So, on balance, I’m feeling pretty good that this week I accomplished my goal to do meaningful work. To be honest, I struggle with whether I should be striving to make a larger impact in sustainability now that I have more time, and since I studied for a degree in that field during my last few years of my corporate career. Maybe…but for this week, I’m choosing to feel content that I touched each of my priorities in some way, and hopefully made a difference.
Does this resonate with you? What ideas and goals do you have to create meaning in retirement?