The Balance of Be-ing and Do-ing

Part of my retirement transition has been exploration into happiness. There are many hypotheses about what drive happiness, especially later in life, but one that seems to have conflicting messages are the concepts of be-ing and do-ing.

On one hand there is the idea of finding the joy in being non-productive. Being in the moment. Finding the stillness and mindfulness of quiet time. Of course, for a recovering workaholic, this is a daunting concept.  Just being?!?

Then there is the other hand – the idea that a successful retirement is doing what I want, when I want, with whom I want.  And in the doing, you find your true sense of purpose.

Of course, my workaholic tendency has me creating action plans and experimenting with new activities. I even blogged about my month of trying out yoga! (And yes, still doing it and enjoying it.)  A quote I read from Dale Carnegie captures the importance of do-ing: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Getting busy and doing the work is a theme in many quotes I seem to gravitate towards:

  • “There is no Fairy Godmother. If you want to change your life for the better, you need to do the work.”
  • “Don’t let fear drive procrastination. Take action; do something – do anything. What are you waiting for?”
  • “You need to work through the complexity to find the simplicity”.

So is it more important to do or to be?

As in most of life, it’s a balance. For me the easier is the “do”.   So the learning is in the “be”.

Learn to just be sometimes.   Be OK with not having constant activity.  Stop to smell the roses, enjoy an afternoon of just watching the surf, and have a chat with a neighbor. This is not wasted time.

And be equally OK with the do. It is OK to have the action plans and the checklists. To try out the new activities, get off the couch everyday, and be active with yoga, walks, SUP, and Zumba. But choose things that truly fit with your life vision – not the ones you think you should be doing.

And maybe, as I spend more time in the “be-ing”, I can better sort the true vision activities from the should. Because some days it feels I am doing things that are should and not necessarily bringing me happiness.

At this stage of your retirement life, are you more caught up in the be-ing or the do-ing?


Picture Credit: Pixabay


6 thoughts on “The Balance of Be-ing and Do-ing

  1. I am just one year into retirement and after reading this post and more about you and your blog, I really appreciate your perspective.

    I spent my first several months after leaving work that I loved, without a plan, too. But relentlessly DOING and driving my husband crazy with my lists of projects for US to do around our home.

    Fortunately, I found Julia Cameron’s book ‘It’s never too late” an “Artist Way” program for retirees and other creative souls.

    Taking her 12 week ‘course’ helped me realize we all have an obligation, to ourselves and to those we treasure, to find or create a new identity and purpose that make us happy in this phase of our lives. I’m still figuring it out, but feel more hopeful now that I will find my way.

    Pat, I look forward to more of your posts.

    You are a delightful writer and thinker!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peggy, I loved Julia Cameron’s books – I’ve read a couple, but not the one specific for retirees. I’ve totally embraced the morning journaling, and attempt the artist’s dates a few times a year. I’ve used a number of her techniques – vision boarding most recently helped me focus on a new life change. After 3 years retired, I’m actually feeling like I am retired… in the 21st century retirement definition! thanks for your comment!!


  2. I too lean towards ‘doing’. However, I do agree that balance is the key…especially in retirement. Love your Dale Carnegie quote!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me (almost three years) it is do-ing on steroids. I am not very good at be-ing. I always have to be do-ing something, even if it’s reading a book. I too tend to be very action-oriented, though in the past, on occasion, I have succeeded in just be-ing. When we visited Grand Teton National Park, I was so captivated by the mountains that I sat on the patio of the Jackson Lake Lodge for several hours just watching the clouds move around the mountain peaks and watching the interplay of the sunlight with the mountains as the angle of the sun changed over the course of that time. It was really a great experience. I just need to look for more of those opportunities.

    Liked by 1 person

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