As a retirement coach, I spend my time discussing the possibility of working for oneself in retirement. It offers the opportunity to work flexible hours and to do something that ignites your passion.
Having retired from formal employment four years ago, I now work for myself, mainly online, from home. I have all the flexibility I want, and if I get distracted during the week – or even during the day – I catch up over the weekend or by stretching my work day into the evening.
If you have not worked for yourself before, a word of caution may be necessary.
The insidious way that the world wide web creeps into one’s life and the way that passion for doing what you love can take over, are two things that you need to watch out for if you become an entrepreneur for the first time in retirement.
It is not simply a case of another Facebook post I need to acknowledge, another webinar I should listen to or another TED talk to watch. If you are working as I am, in the coaching and personal development industry, all of these should be categorized as ‘work’.
And, if you are not vigilant, you can find yourself – as I have in the past few months – working every day of the week, for longer and longer hours.
Over the past year, I have slipped into an unhealthy habit of catching up with blogs, YouTube clips and webinars over the weekend when my time is less pressured. I tell myself it feels great to clear my inbox and to watch or read all the material I have put to one side for ‘later viewing’.
Last week, a comment from a friend jolted me into realizing that I have forgotten how to take time to get away from it all. I infer, he might have made the comment because I was sounding a little edgy and impatient.
That is why I set myself the challenge of completely cutting ties with work for the weekend. My laptop only came out for entertainment – Netflix and some music.
On Sunday evening, I ventured in to sort my emails so that sifting through the junk mail wouldn’t take my time on Monday morning.
All of this reminded me of my school days. Back then, we had a headmistress who used to bring out the ‘recreation’ lecture at the end of each term. At the time, we were very dismissive of what she had to say, but I am more mindful of her message now.
She explained that the meaning of the word recreation has to do with re-creation. In other words, holidays are meant for downtime, for relaxing and re-creating oneself for the next term.
Working for myself in retirement, with a tenuous hold on the enormous global market, it is sometimes very tough to say “No” to what is on offer. I have burned myself out in the past as an entrepreneur, so I should know better!
I had such a great time this weekend, painting my small scullery off the kitchen from ceiling to floor, including the cupboards, having a real spring clean. (Yes, I live in the southern hemisphere where it is spring!)
The weight it took off my shoulders was far greater than any ‘spring’ cleaning of my email inboxes could ever have done! It was more therapeutic than any catching up on work would have been!
The lesson I have learned from all this is that even in retirement we need to remember to take breaks, holidays or time for re-creation.
If you are not sure where to start, you can begin by cutting ties with the Internet. Think of it as a detox or a deep cleanse. It is about taking a break; taking time to relax and re-energize yourself.
It is tough to take time out if you have chosen to work for yourself in retirement, but it is a necessity and simply a case of setting boundaries.
How do you manage your business hours and free time in post-retirement work? What do you do when you feel an overload? Please share your tips for taking time off to relax and just be.