Thursday, 17 May 2012

#253: Buying In/Getting Out

I blogged the other day about how I sometimes feel as if my retirement no longer seems to belong to me but to “the volunteer sector”, a mysterious force that I am starting to picture as a large, slavering, supernatural creature waiting to swallow innocent new retirees.

No wonder that I have failed to complete/commit or even make a start on many of my retirement ambitions -- or even (lately) clean the house.  Volunteering, unlike paid employment, has the uncanny habit of expanding to fill a void, and in doing so, discretionary activities get squeezed right off the calendar.  Yesterday, for example, I bowed of my Wednesday walk in order to give extra time to the retirement home.  That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did happen.

So I have been giving some thought to the most effective way to stay-on-track/ follow-through-on good resolutions such as exercise more, cook more creatively, develop the ugly bits of the garden—and on, and on, and on....and not get lured away by some other task that seems more worthy.

On the basis of my own behaviour and, crass as it may seem, I think the secret is Pay Money.  If I “buy in” to an activity by actually buying in (i.e. paying a fee) I am much more likely to say “I’d love to help you on Monday morning but I have a Qigong class at that time.”  I am also much more likely to attend the class. Then, I go off to my volunteering task.

If you are a new retiree who might enjoy volunteering, begin with one commitment you will truly enjoy. Then, sign up and pay up for activities that are just for fun.  Yoga and Life Drawing.  French classes and Flower Arranging.  Whatever.  You’ll attend, you’ll have a great time, and you will have the perfect reason to say ‘No” when the “sector” exerts its mysterious forces. 

I’ve already said “No” once this week.  It is good feeling.

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