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How I’m Framing Procrastination in My Retirement

Creating my new tempo

Photo by Merlin Lightpainting from Pexels

In my younger life, my tempo was controlled by “gottas” that surrounded family and home:

  • Gotta get my child to the dentist
  • Gotta mow the lawn
  • Gotta get dinner ready by 6 p.m. to be on time for a meeting

In my working life, my tempo was lorded directly by my assignments and indirectly by:

  • Gotta be in bed by 11 p.m., because the alarm chimes at 6 a.m.
  • Gotta be on the highway by 7:12 a.m. or my commute will be miserable
  • Gotta maintain my continuing professional and personal education

“That’s a lotta “gottas!”

In retirement, my tempo has slowed. The “gottas” have become fewer and less immediate. The childhood idiom, “You’re not the boss of me!” holds. Now I am the boss of me!

The tempo is mine to control.

There was plenty of guidance on ways to optimize my finances in retirement. However, nonfinancial advice was uncommon or unrealistic. Recommendations were sweeping and somewhat fuzzy, such as stay healthy or buy and run a vineyard. An article in Forbes magazine states that taking care of your mind and body means:

  • Develop successful personality traits like optimism and gratitude
  • Become resilient — let go of what you cannot control
  • Cultivate your perseverance

In retrospect, I should have worked on developing successful personality traits sooner than retirement, no? There were many links to people who could help with the financial aspects of retirement, yet links to help me with nonfinancial plans were sparse.

I have found procrastination has become a key driver of my retirement tempo. I don’t remember any mention of it in retirement preparation classes. If the weather is stormy, I can shop for groceries tomorrow. If I get stuck on Twitter, I can write tomorrow.

See how easy it is?

Hmm… being “the boss of me” might be more difficult than I thought. How to work around that sneaky procrastination beast?

I came across a TED talk on procrastination by Tim Urban. He describes three actors in procrastination. The first is the Rational Decision Maker. This actor can work out a plan to ensure the work is complete. The second actor is the Instant Gratification (IG) Monkey. This actor is the plan disrupter. The third actor Urban named the Panic Monster.

Roughly speaking, Panic Monsters are deadlines.

In my life as a newly retired person, here’s the status of my three procrastination actors. My Rational Decision-Maker wakes up from time to time — but frequently hits the snooze button. Kudos to my Rational Decision Maker for developing goals for my writing and finding a group I love to work with as a volunteer. But my IG Monkeys rule. A few of my IG Monkeys are YouTube, Twitter, podcasts, and jigsaw puzzles.

It is so easy to get sidetracked, and since deadlines are self-made or soft, my Panic Monster has no teeth.

Does my Panic Monster need teeth? Isn’t that the point of retirement — an edentulous Panic Monster? Yes and no. From my view, I think the ideal retirement Panic Monster is deciding what is important to me and embracing my goals to achieve them.

Relationships are central to my sense of self. I don’t want to be lonely as I age. My Panic Monster needs to plan activities to keep current relationships intact and create new relationships.

I am lucky that my spouse and I have many common interests, like theater, exploring new foods, and walking, so I have companionship to do these things. I’ve set a goal of calling one family member, friend, or former colleague once a week. Friends from high school who are strengthening their writing skills have become my critique group.

The group for which I volunteer has virtual meetings. I have not met anyone in person yet, but I feel acquaintanceships evolving into friendships. I am acquiring the teeth for my Panic Monster; they are gentle but firm teeth like a lioness when she is carrying her cub.

Cloudtail the Snow Leopard is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

My retirement lioness’s teeth are growing. There is no deadline for them to mature. I have fewer “gottas” — the tempo has slowed, but the “gottas” are not the boss of me — they are the joy of me.




Move over Millenials, we Baby Boomers are writing about our life experiences! We’re not grumpy old buggers, we’re extremely wise thirty-something-year-olds rebounding online. Boomerangs share life lessons about recovering our power, money, relationships, health, and self-worth.

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