Guilty about Time Wasters?

As a recovering workaholic, I still feel guilty if I spend the afternoon doing the crossword, taking a nap, reading a book, writing a blog, or goodness, just sitting and enjoying the sunshine. Part of me feels like if I’m not working (meaning working for financial compensation), then I should be pursuing life meaning. Certainly not just wasting time.

But what is wasted time and what is pursuing life meaning?   I recently read a description that life meaning can come in many ways:

  • Having people in your life that truly love and care for you.
  • Adding value and contributing to something worthwhile.
  • Connecting to something that takes you outside yourself.
  • Communicating a personal narrative.

My blogging helps me express my life narrative. I share my experiences in the hopes of connecting to others – sharing, mentoring, validating.  I also hope in some small way my blogging is adding value to someone else! Using this description, my blogging (reading and writing) contributes to my pursuit of life meaning, and is not wasting time.

But is there more to understanding the pursuit of life meaning to help me relieve the guilt, because there is the more (or actually less) to this lazy afternoon than just blog writing.

Is pursuit of life meaning simply meaningful pursuits?

What meaningful to me (or you) could be one big thing or many smaller things. It could be continuing to work part-time doing gig consulting. Or, it could be traveling, exploring, or having new experiences. Or being active and healthy, or connected to others, or financially secure.   Or learning how to spend quiet time and just be quiet for an afternoon. Or a blend of many of these into the unique retirement lifestyle I’ve dreamed about!

I often joke that I was raised on guilt.   I am coming to believe retirement is a time for a learning curve to free myself of living on guilt. How can I learn to be OK with days of no pre-planned, structured activity? How can I eliminate my comparative inferiority struggle and feeling no self-worth if I’m not working (when so many friends and cohorts are working)?  How can I find the joy in a lazy afternoon?

I am learning to love this new lifestyle of slower days, time to have coffee and listen to the morning bird chatter, fitting in a regular yoga class, and taking a mid-day walk with a friend.  I need to continually remind myself to not feel guilty and to appreciate even the lazy “time wasting moments” are part of my meaningful pursuits for my 21st century retirement lifestyle.

Do you feel guilty? Have you conquered your guilt?   Or are you one of the lucky ones who never had the guilt trip about wasting time?

Picture Credit: Pixabay


10 thoughts on “Guilty about Time Wasters?

  1. You raise such important points about our value after retirement. Being a workaholic (I get it), it’s so easy to want to constantly quantify your time. i still kind of do that in my own head. When I first retired, I couldn’t teach at the university for 6 months due to my state pension’s restrictions. I had started my blog a few months before I retired (of course, blogging about impending retirement), and I wrote a blog post every day. I now just blog twice a week which keeps me busy enough. Now that I am back to teaching, which ends up being almost full-time work (labor of love that I can do 75% from home, plus I LOVE being on campus), I do keep to a fairly rigid structure of exercise, writing, school prep, campus time, and oh, yes, fun and leisure! Having summers off is just a crazy notion I’m still wrapping my head around after being the Aquatics Director for uncountable summers. Oh and I love the photo there with half dome in the distance–looks like Glacier point. If you make it over to my blog you might see that I’ve been there a few times (25) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Terri, yes you got the picture right! We spent a few years of vacations visiting various National Parks – from Glacier to Yosemite, to Yellowstone/Tetons to Acadia and more. Then we bought a place in Florida so haven’t traveled as much except to there… our goal is to be snow-bird-like and pick up travel again…from either location. Our recent trip to Africa was first trip in years…if you’re going to restart, start big!

      How you manage 2 posts a week plus working is beyond me….I’m struggling to do one a week. But I enjoy the camaraderie that the blog-o-sphere has for recent retirees. I learn so much from others how to manage this new lifestage. Looking forward to reading your posts now.

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  2. Great article Pat! When I worked, I strived to be very efficient, even taking a couple of seminars in time management. However, long before retirement, I finally reached the conclusion that a balanced life is a healthy life…that was when I nearly went down in flames due to my pursuit of doing too much and not taking care of me. It is important to have meaning and purpose, but it is also important to stop and smell the roses. So, in retirement, I have no problem just kicking back and doing what I want to do instead of what I think I should be doing. There are days I don’t get out of my PJ’s until noon. I sit on the porch and enjoy my morning coffee and walk around my garden smelling the roses. I worked long and hard for this…I’m going to enjoy it sans guilt. K

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  3. Recently my husband, who is a big-time television watcher, mentioned that he thought he would do more reading in retirement…but that reading makes him feel like he is wasting time. I was stunned! To him, television (and Trump-time) was not a waste of time…but reading was. Somehow that was very releasing for me and helped me to feel less guilty about my day-to-day retirement choices!

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    1. Wonderful perspective! One person’s wasted time is another’s meaningful pursuit. Actually for me, some of my reading choices could be considered wasted time, but I view it as escapism when I need to have a mindlessness (stress reducing) activity.

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  4. I guess sometimes I feel a little guilty if I look back on my day and see that nothing has been accomplished. But, actually, there are very few days that I do NOTHING. Usually there is at least some little project that I’ve done, if only watering my blueberry bushes. 🙂

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    1. A woman at yoga the other day said she likes doing morning yoga because then she’s accomplished something during they day, if only that. One of the reasons I (still) use to-do lists is so I can check something off at the end of the day. And yes, today’s to do list had do laundry, respond to blog comments, and pack for our big trip. So I’m almost 2/3 accomplished today. [I watered all the indoor plants yesterday. :-)]

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  5. Guilt? What’s that? Ha ha. I was raised Catholic and even I don’t feel guilty about my retirement choices. I have the opposite reaction when I see and talk to my former colleagues who are still working. “Poor bastards”, is my typical thought. I love being retired. That doesn’t mean I am not busy. I have a to do list that is longer than your arm, but if I want to just goof off for an hour, an afternoon, a day, I just do it. Now, “goofing off” for me might mean tinkering with a tool in my shop or reading the latest book on nutrition or sitting by the fire pit drinking a glass (or two) of good wine. It can mean whatever I (or you) want it to mean.

    I had 30+ years of deadlines, stress, impossible timelines and even more ridiculous budgets. (You would remember OGSM’s which stood for Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measures, but which I insisted meant Oh God, Save Me! ). That is over!

    I wish I could transfer my feelings of freedom and guiltlessness to you. It sounds like you are making progress though. Be gentle with yourself and keep adding to those Someday/Maybe lists!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL – I had not heard that OGSM-ism before! This past 2 months have been so busy, it’s almost hard to remember a day of doing nothing… sitting by the fire pit and drinking a glass of wine sounds heavenly. Next time I’ll remember the crazy busy days (both at work and self-induced with doing a bunch of those someday items all at once) and NOT feel guilty! Bob said so!


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