Sadly, I have known several people who had various things they were keen to do when they retired, but died either before being able to retire or soon after they retired. What I learned from that is that I really must make space for the things I want to do and do them sooner rather than later. Putting all the eggs in the one basket of retirement is a risky strategy.
But it isn’t just about retirement – the issue is broader than that. It is likely, for most of us, that there will be things that we are not putting on hold for retirement, but we are not getting round to them either. This is more than everyday procrastination (which is usually about things we would prefer not to do). These are generally things that we want to do, but, for whatever reason, we are filing them under ‘one day’, rather than under ‘now’.
There can be a whole range of reasons why we do this, different reasons for different people and perhaps different reasons at different times. But, what is common across the board is that there is a very pronounced tendency for people to stand in their own way when it comes to doing things they want to do.
Largely what it comes down to is getting our priorities right. A common mistake when it comes to time and workload management is to allow pressing, but relatively unimportant, matters to ‘jump the queue’ and to get done at the expense of things that are less pressing, but much more important.
This can apply to work-related issues or things that relate to our private lives. Consider these two examples:
• Sam had always wanted to have an article published: ‘It would be great to see my name in print. I would love that. I don’t see myself as having a career as a writer, but I would love to be a published author at some point’. The obvious line of questioning from this is: Why ‘at some point’? Why not now, or soon at least? If it really is something you would love, what is stopping you doing it now? What things that you don’t love are you doing instead of what you would love? What is distorting your priorities and what can you do to stop that happening?
• Chris had been very keen for a long time to spend more time in London: ‘I often go to London on business. I go in on the train and then come home again when the job is done. There are so many things I would love to see in London, but never get chance to when I am there for work reasons. I could afford to do it. I just never get round to it’. Of course the same questions apply here. In both cases, it is a matter of priorities. If this really is something that you are so keen to do, what process is happening that stops it from happening? Maybe there is a genuine and understandable reason why it isn’t happening (perhaps Chris is overwhelmed by the choice of so many things in London that could be part of the proposed trip). But perhaps it is more a case of needing to get priorities clear, take control of the situation and make it happen.
Not only will this mean that, in most cases, at least, we get the benefit of doing what we want to do, but we are also likely to feel good about having taken control of the situation – a positive and empowering experience in its own right.