Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

The Temporary Inconvenience of Retirement

Seth Godin wrote recently about education and inconvenience.

Convenience has been “the dominant driver of our culture” since the 1960s, he says. It drives many of the choices we make in life. The internet propels that drive. App makers are capturing our attention foremost with convenience.

But, writes Seth, the cost to education is high. To be effective, education has to be inconvenient. Individual attention vs. standardized testing. Hands-on action vs. summarization. Extending ourselves vs. passive absorption.

There’s an obvious parallel in retirement.

Retirement is a form of education. Or maybe re-education. We have to learn how to do it. We have unlearn many of our ingrained habits around productivity and reward, then replace them with fulfilling ways to take advantage of freedom.

But it’s inconvenient.

Retirement forces us to step forward into the unknown, to practice the unfamiliar, to make new friends and work diligently to keep our social connections strong. All inconveniences.

Yet, how else do you learn? Seth writes: “Education needs to be inconvenient because it relies on effort and discomfort to move us from where we were to where we want to be.”

Laboring at freedom. Learning how to relax around relaxation. Working at not working. Odd concepts in retirement.

But once we see that this stage of life as one that requires effort for success, we might actually feel a sense of relief. “Right. Okay. It’s not just there, waiting. I have to try.”

Trying, of course, has purpose and meaning, which is what everyone I know who’s retired wants to find in their new life.


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