Too Much of A Good Thing

by Linda

I have been struggling to find answers as to why I can't seem to get motivated to do the things I want to do. I thought it was brain fog or depression so I put myself on a gluten free diet. Being gluten free has helped immensely with my psoriasis but I still can't find the energy or will power to act upon the activities I want to do. Then the light bulb went on and I think I have the answer.

When we were children, we were constantly expected to follow certain rules and routines. When we went to school, we were under the supervision of our teachers to study, do homework, pass tests and follow rules.

When we entered the workforce, we had supervisors to answer to. Deadlines had to be met, quality work had to be submitted if we wanted a paycheck, and if we found ourselves unemployed, we had to be creative and resourceful to find another job.

Now that I am retired, except the property manager of my apartment complex, I really don't answer to anyone for my actions.

The only rules I follow are the ones that keep me out of jail and a roof over my head. I don't answer to anyone for the choices I make during my daily routine. No one cares if I make my bed, read a book, cook a meal or clean my apartment. I have no time restraints, no deadlines, and no impressions to make. As long as my bills are paid on time, no one imposes penalties for my actions.

My over abundance of freedom seems to be a hindrance to why I don't feel the need to accomplish anything or step out of my comfort zone. I never realized how important it was to have structure in my life. Now that no one is "watching me", I am drowning in my pool of endless freedom.

I don't have a solution, and no, I am not getting a job, but at least I have a reasonable idea of why I am in this state of inertia.

The usual responses of get a job, volunteer, get a hobby or get out of the house don't work for me. The answer to my problem has to come from within me and that may take a lifetime of soul searching.

I never thought that freedom could be so debilitating.

Comments for Too Much of A Good Thing

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The cost of freedom
by: Craig/Minneapolis

For awhile I too suffered from what I thought was a lack of motivation in my retired life. I became so perplexed by my chronic failure to follow through on anything that I met with a shrink in hopes that she could provide some insight into the nature of my problem. She did. Turns out that I am lazy.

I have pondered her diagnosis at length and have concluded that not only was she spot on, but I do believe that my condition is incurable.

Just as an alcoholic has to admit to his or her addiction before recovery can be realized, I have to admit that I am a lazy person before I can begin the process of rehabilitation.

My condition has existed for as long as I can remember. I became a master at avoiding work while giving the impression that I was hard at the task at hand. I took a perverse pride in beating the system.

More pride than I would have had were I to have performed the task in the first place. That is just wrong, but at my advanced age I cannot conceive of a magical curative, so I am convinced that I will remain a lazy person until the bitter end.

I am resigned to my laziness. I don't want to change. If anything, retirement is the perfect time for me to be lazy. I report to no supervisor, nor punch a clock, so essentially "no harm, no foul".

Thank goodness I did work at my investments portfolio over the years and am blessed to be able to hire qualified people to do those tasks that I could do, but don't want to do myself.

Bottom line, I would never recommend that anybody do as I do. I am, however, glad that I saw the shrink and finally got a professional opinion. I am, it seems, clinically lazy.

It can afflict anyone, so take a look at yourself in the mirror of honest self-analysis. Someday there might be a 12 step program for the seriously lazy. Too late for me.

Food for thought
by: Larry Steward / SC

Linda from Nevada

I found your comments so interesting. As a retirement coach, I am tracking the many issues we face when crossing into our retirement years. There is a long list of factors that can challenge us, however, I can't remember reading about the specific issue you bring up.

Some of your points were, "My overabundance of freedom seems to be a hindrance to why I don't feel the need to accomplish anything or step out of my comfort zone. I never realized how important it was to have structure in my life" and "I never thought that freedom could be so debilitating".

It seems so counter intuitive I agree and I understand why you feel the need for some serious soul searching. The subject that comes up to me is the search for our true purpose in life. Reflecting on all that you have done to this point and all the interests you have could shed light on something meaningful you would like to accomplish.

Keep in mind, you didn’t come this far to only come this far.

Hit the nail on the head
by: Anonymous

"The usual responses of get a job, volunteer, get a hobby or get out of the house don't work for me. The answer to my problem has to come from within me and that may take a lifetime of soul searching."

I am amazed at how this fits me and my own thinking! You have aptly described how it has to come from within, not from pressure, definition and measurement from without!

I am thinking it is not a bad thing (i don't have to feel guilty) to have this awareness because I see that I can take the time to learn about and to respond to my inner needs rather than what the world thinks I should think,be and do (all in an "appropriate time frame". I can see this opportunity as the recreating of me, or finding the true me, all in my own way, all within this awareness of which I needn't be afraid.

One way to add structure
by: Laura in Vermont

A friend of mine developed her own structure for her days at home.

Her home was a tiny country store that really didn't do much business most of the year. She lived above it. She felt she couldn't just sit around waiting for people to show up so she made her own structure around the store's hours.

Before the store opened she would take a walk (no snow) or shovel the snow to the door. That was exercise. Following that she'd shower, dress and have breakfast, then open up.

But on Tuesdays she always made cookies, so if it was Tuesday she'd get out the recipe of the week (the recipes rotated) and make a batch for visitors.
She always seemed to have a few.

Then she would crochet for a couple of hours, getting up to tend to customers as needed. She made a time slot for housework, also interruptible. In the afternoon she would spin wool into yarn for her sister. She made regular time for meals and when she closed, she would watch a favorite program or movie, then retire for the night. Unless she had square dancing that evening.

Occasionally she'd have to leave for a doctor appointment or shopping for herself, so she'd get her brother to watch the place while she was out.

She was much more structured than I ever was with my job!

Too Much Time
by: Canadian Retiree

It’s kind of ironic that I looked forward to retirement for so many years- my "dream of doing nothing " now I’m retired and one day just roles into the next with no structure. I hear what you’re saying it is too much of a good thing at times.

I’m struggling to find a purpose. I’ve thought about part time work but where? Could I even motivate myself to go to a new job? I even tried volunteering but it didn’t take.

I’ve been retired now for a whole year and I’m turning 65 in December. A strange journey indeed.

No structure
by: Anonymous

When you retire being structureless is difficult. Could you write yourself a weekly timetable of things to do each day, things that you would like to do etc. If it is structure you miss then try to do this for yourself . Make a plan and stick to it.

by: Dave/Mason, Mi

Retired life requires 7 things:

1. Making an effort.
2. Having a positive attitude.
3. Doing a little extra.
4. Being prepared.
5. Having a solid work ethic.
6. Not talking bad about people.
7. Counting your blessings everyday.

Anyone can do them and none require talent... but without them you face a life of dissatisfaction and dissolution.

To: too much of a good thing
by: Anonymous

I once read if we waited for motivation to do something we would never get anything done. Jump in and start and the motivation will come.

I find keeping an ongoing list of short and long term tasks and projects; then daily choosing some from your list gives a sense of accomplishment. Whether it is a small task, or larger project, completing it feels great. Checking something off of a To Do list is always a good feeling.

A daily form of exercise too will increase both mood and motivation. Whether a walk around the block, go for a swim, or join a fitness center. Designated exercise time takes discipline but will create a routine for you once it becomes a habit. May not be ‘fun’, but you will reap benefits.

Volunteering has also been a blessing; working 8-5 in a demanding job left me little room for time or energy to volunteer. Now I’m working 2 days a week at our Food Pantry and in addition to the feeling that comes from helping, I have met many new friends. Check your local United Way website, they post several requests for volunteer needs. You can give as much or as little time as you want. A few hours a week could become part of your new routine.

It just starts with the first step.
You may need to force yourself into a routine of listing, exercising, volunteering, but the rewards are immeasurable.

Mary Lou in Buffalo. NY
by: Mary Lou

Yes - I believe we need to learn how to be Retired. I do feel better when busy - but motivation is tough. I try to set a few daily goals. I try to stay Present- and not be too critical if I'm not wanting to accomplish much. For the last 37 years I was constantly moving- I've been Retired 2.5 years -

Too much
by: Wee-zer

Linda, you are absolutely right! Too much of anything makes you lose interest in it. That is why when you were a kid you were limited to a 'snack', a piece of chocolate, a treat of some sort, birthday cake. You were not allowed to have an endless supply of what you loved!

If you could have all you wanted the items would no longer be special. Retirement is like that.

An endless vacation. When you would take a vacation while working, you dreamed of never having to return to work. But most of us never thought it would be less exciting to be on vacation forever.

Too Much of A Good Thing/Sleeping My Life Away
by: Carol, Canada

Yeah, I feel the same way. Can't get motivated. I could not wait to retire so I could finish a bunch of projects around the house and garage. Haven't done a thing yet except garden. Well that's something I guess. The yard needed some work and I did get that done at least.

Rest of the time all I do is walk the dog and then sleep. Sometimes sleep 2 or 3 hours a day. I think I should do something, but then just go to bed instead. I will sleep for a year as winter is coming now and then I'll see if I can get motivated by spring.

Otherwise I'm sleeping my life away.

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