Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 361 (044) Priorities and Retirement


This is retirement talk. I’m Del Lowery.

I ask my music teacher this past week if she had finished her disc. She was going to make a disc of classical guitar music and I wanted very much to hear it. She has been telling me she was going to make it for well over a year. Well, she hasn’t gotten it done.

Don’t misunderstand me; she is a busy woman. But, she has always claimed to want to make this disc, but it just doesn’t happen. Something else always pops up to claim her attention: her business as a teacher of music, her role as a mother of a graduating senior headed off to college, her relationship with her husband. Something always takes priority to making the disc. And perhaps it should.

Yet, she expressed admiration for my managing to conceive of the idea for a podcast on retirement and then to learn how to make it happen, and then actually make it happen. It doesn’t seem like a huge deal to me, but it does to her. I replied that it was a matter of priorities. She told me I needed to make this the topic of my next podcast.

I don't claim to be an expert but for me establishing priorities are basic to movement. We have to know where we want to go before we can go there. Every parent knows this. That is why we try to “redirect” the attention of babies once they start crawling. We see them headed for the vase, or the pots and pans, or electric chords or whatever. The list is endless. We pick them up and say, “Oh, look what’s over here”. We turn their attention to something else – hopefully.


My teacher and I talked a bit about priorities. I am not the kind of guy who can focus very long on any one thing. My life has been rather a pattern of jumping from one thing to another. So, I need some rules concerning priorities to help keep me on track.

Retirement can bring this into focus. No longer does the 8 to 5 job hold our attention. No longer must we rise at dawn and go to sleep when the sun goes down. No longer must we limit our vacations to a schedule. We have freedom – to a degree – some of us drowned in it. We can’t function. That may not be anything new – we may have been this way our entire life. But Retirement does make us responsible for all of our time spent. We decide. Or, as a former president put it, we become the “decider”

When we retired, I thought about this and a list did emerge. Not a long one. I can even remember it: Family, friends, health or exercise, music, and community. Over the past twenty six years these priorities have served me well.

I try to include them all in my daily schedule. It is not acceptable to just focus on one at a time. The others tend to get slighted or are soon missing completely. I need a little balance in my life. I don’t like to skip.

My days have been broken down into phases that allow for each to flourish. Tai chi and exercise at the opening of each day provide for health followed by just a bit of reading for mental health. Then it is a couple of hours of music followed by an hour of biking or rowing or something physical. The afternoons are then free for community involvement. This is when I can work on projects – this podcast being the current one.

Over the last few years I have learned what is needed to build and operate a recording studio, construct a website, and put together a podcast. I am not by nature computer inclined. As a matter of fact, I am reluctant to read directions, follow anything step-by-step, or remember where I have been and how I might return to that specific place. All of these attributes are necessary for computer literacy. It has been a struggle.  But, by knowing that I wanted to create a podcast and staying aimed in that direction it has become a reality. I have also discovered the power of "how whatever" on the Internet. "How to fix the sink? How to hook up a printer? How to get the moss off the roof, etc." There is no limit.

Of course that still leaves lots of hours in each day for family, friends, coffee shops and serendipity.

The importance of priorities don’t change much from when we were young children chasing after kitchen cupboards and electrical outlets. We just change direction a bit. It is the direction that must be kept in mind. We need to know what we really value and where we want to go. It is so easy to be drawn off course by television, other people’s suggestions, or lack of plans.

Perhaps life without clear priorities is preferable. Accept what ever happens: sort of Zen like: drift with the wind or the open road. I’m sure there is much to be said for that kind of life. It’s just a matter of your own priorities. Of course having "leading a Zen like style of life" becomes a priority. Once again establishing it and keeping that priority in focus is what becomes most important.

This is Retirement Talk: What to do with the rest of your life.





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