The paradox of leisure: When is it too much?

Psychologist Barry La Valley highlights an important perspective on this myth: “We like our holidays and weekends when we are

Psychologist Barry La Valley highlights an important perspective on this myth:

“We like our holidays and weekends when we are working, therefore imagine if that were now your life. Consider the paradox of leisure: we like leisure because it is a break from work. If you had leisure seven days a week for 30 years, where is your break?”

Yet the biggest surprise that we see time and again in working with retirees is that part of what makes leisurely pursuits so enjoyable, that is their contrast to and break from the rest of our obligations and ongoing pursuits. In other words, leisure is a nice thing to enjoy as a break from work, but that doesn’t mean it is equally enjoyable when it is all there is. It can be far less pleasurable, even outright boring, when it is the only thing we have to look forward to, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, for what may literally be decades of retirement.

Notably, this doesn’t mean the only choice has to be the current job you dislike and want to get away from, or a life of too much leisure that leads to boredom. The balancing point is one of work that is done for purpose and for meaning.

For those who have reached retirement, the decision about work goes through an important transition that is often ignored. Upon reaching a financial position where it is no longer necessary to earn income from work, you have the freedom to choose any job you want, based not on what you need to earn, but simply based on whatever you want to do.

Such a path could include a so-called “encore career,” starting a new business, going back to school, taking on a volunteer position for charity, or simply revising a current job for part-time work that focuses on the tasks you enjoy and avoids the ones that you don’t. And while income may not be “necessary,” even a modest amount of cash flow can have the ancillary benefit of helping to shore up an unlucky sequence of mediocre returns early in retirement as well.

At the end of the day it isn’t a good idea to think of retirement as the end of work. Think of it instead as a moment of “financial independence” where for the first time, you can have the freedom to choose whatever “work” you want to do, regardless of the income it provides, simply based on whatever brings meaning and purpose and fulfillment. (And if it happens to include a little income, too, that doesn’t hurt). If you could be engaged in any kind of work you wanted, regardless of the income, what would you do in your “retirement”.

Can you relate to this? Do you still work even though you don’t “need” to?

*The information contained in this document is general in nature and may not be relevant to your individual circumstances. You should refrain from doing anything in reliance on this information without first obtaining suitable professional advice. The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author; they are not reflective or indicative of Millennium3 Financial Service’s position, and are not to be attributed to Millennium3. They cannot be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the author.

  1. My hubby passed I was only 63 looked after him for 10 years . I feel as though I have nothing to do because I was so busy working all the time.Not Good .

  2. George Covacs  

    Speak for yourself!
    I have been retired for a few years now and I’m enjoying never having to get up early again, rushing for the train, and spending eight LONG hours in an office, with regimented breaks.
    I’m glad I no longer have to use an alarm clock!
    I enjoy trading shares, playing online chess, listening to overseas radio stations on my internet radio, and enjoying leisurely meals whenever I feel hungry.
    No more life on a timetable!
    Total bliss and good riddance to work.
    Some people seem to be far too prone to boredom and think others are similarly afflicted.
    I also enjoy sometimes just sitting doing NOTHING with a cup of tea, or a glass of wine, just looking out on the garden.

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