I am thinking a lot lately about how we end up doing what they do in this world. Now that I am semi-retired and my hours are very flexible, I am meeting many people who are retired. Often they had a number of years in a career that they enjoyed yet they are now discovering issues and activities that they find more meaningful. It is fascinating learning about the variety of things they really care about. For instance, a friend of mine just became deeply immersed in creating beautiful pottery. Another friend recently went to Nairobi on a mission to help undernourished children. And another friend is passionate about teaching others to meditate.
Whether these activities are paid work or volunteer work doesn’t really matter. What matters is that these friends are deeply and personally drawn to these activities. They are more fulfilled because these activities support their personal values and needs. Certainly many of us find great enjoyment and meaning from our main work in the world, but far too many of us don’t while working or ever for that matter.
What do you really care about? Whether you are retired or not, isn’t it worth exploring so that you get greater satisfaction from your days? I find that complacency is such an easy path to take. Motivation is required to push beyond staying still. When you are working to pay the rent, so to speak, that may be a big enough motivation to keep you engaged in the world. You may be inadvertently fulfilling your wants and needs. However, deliberately aligning your daily life with what really matters to you will give you greater fulfillment, whether you are getting paid or not. If you haven’t ever thought about it before, I suggest you think about what are your top 10 values in life. I’m not talking about morals or ethics. By values I mean what is most important to you that will help guide you in your choices so that you get more of what you want from life. Here is a list of some examples:
Personal values are different for everyone. My corporate life fulfilled a number of my values: recognition, helping others, connection, learning and growing. My huge need for connection was filled by having to show up for a job each day that included other wonderful people. Now that I am on my own working at home, it is easy to retract into hermit life. My personal values of connection and recognition and helping others have gotten side-lined. Fortunately finding ways of learning and growing is second nature to me.
Of course there are needs on my personal values list that were never or rarely fulfilled at work: playfulness, romance, independence, nature, nurturing and spirituality. This past decade post-corporate I have been enjoying living those values more fully. For me, life is always about asking questions and exploring (that’s my learning and growing value in action). So lately I am discovering that connection, recognition and helping others wants to be more front and center. That’s the next direction for me. I hope that you discover what you really care about and take some action to get your values and needs met.