DISCARDING OBLIGATIONS IN THE RETURN TO NORMAL LIFE

Just because you've "always done it" doesn't mean you have to continue to do so. The new normal we're embracing allows you to make new choices.

DISCARDING OBLIGATIONS

I wrote a post a little while ago about choosing to focus on what "Sparks Joy" in retirement. There were many commitments that I had been maintaining to distract myself from how unhappy and unfulfilled I was in my job, and once I'd processed my way through resigning and recovering, I found I could let some of them go.

During the COVID-19 lockdown I was forced (for want of a better word) to stop all my outside activities - volunteering, exercise class, tai chi, church, and more. It was a strange time and I felt a certain degree of resentment in having my choices taken away from me, but then as time went by I realized that this was another opportunity to reassess what was in my life and to make some intentional choices, rather than just doing something because it's what I'd always done.

THE NEW NORMAL

When restrictions started to be gradually lifted, I began to think about each of the commitments I'd given up during lockdown, and which ones I was missing and looking forward to resuming. In the process I noticed that there were some that I wasn't particularly keen on getting back into. I had the Oldest Child sense of "should do" where I felt I "should" continue, but there was a little voice asking me "why?" and I started to listen to that voice more than the stuffy, people-pleaser voice that often directs my decisions.

Considering the pace at which the world is changing, it is important to learn to embrace change in our own lives. Jim Donovan #lifequotes

Midlife should be when we begin to use our time more wisely for the things that bring us a sense of purpose and tie in with our values. A blogging friend of mine (Pat from Retirement Transition) wrote a great post recently that included the term "Time Affluence" that she described as:

"Time affluence is time to do the things that are important in your life – things that fit your life purpose, life vision, or life values."

VOLUNTEERING

The first consideration on my list is helping out with our church's Mothers' group. I've always volunteered in some area with church since I was a teenager - Sunday School teacher, Youth Group leader, Bible Study facilitator, Church Secretary, Kids Hope mentor, and lately Playgroup helper. The thing is that it's not a good fit - I don't love it, they don't really need me, and I'm not looking forward to it resuming; so that will be the first area I'm going to pull out from.

Just because I've volunteered all my life, doesn't mean I can't stop for a while. It doesn't mean I have to swap out one obligation for another one. So, I'm giving myself permission to take a break - at least until the end of the year. When I'm fresh and ready to put my hand up again, I'll choose something where I feel a connection - I'm thinking about calling our local school next year to offer to listen to the little kids do their reading. I think that'd be helpful and a good use of my time - but I've got 6 months to think about it and see where I end up.

CLASSES

I mentioned a couple of years ago that I'd discovered all that our Senior Citizens' Centre had to offer - and since then I've been mastering Tai Chi and participating in their Gentle Gym class. Both of these have been enjoyable and good for my physical and mental health. I have a feeling though that they'll be overflowing with participants once we're all allowed out again, so I'm going to give it a bit of thought before turning up again. Maybe I'll skip the first few classes until things settle back down into more stable numbers.

I'd also thought about some of the other classes that the Centre offers, but I'll be choosing wisely as to social distancing and having some space around me. There are a lot of older people who attend and I don't want to risk their health (or my own) by being too closely packed together with people I don't know (and people who may have re-commenced travelling once the borders are opened). The last thing any of us want is another lockdown situation.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

Because I'm "Time Affluent" I'm not going to rush into anything as life returns to normal. The Normal that lies ahead is a new Normal - it will feel different to what came before the pandemic. I want it to be a better Normal - one where I'm more intentional about what I do and how I spend my days.

In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to. Dave Hollis #lifequotes

I'm hoping to discover some new inspiration - different projects to challenge myself with. One new interest I'm enjoying is Zooming with some online friends - sharing ideas and chatting - it's such a great way of deepening connections and getting my brain engaged and stimulated. (Something we can all thank COVID for is making Zoom meetings so easy to facilitate).

I love finding new things to engage my mind and infuse me with ideas and inspiration. I'm also budget conscious, so I won't be jumping into anything expensive, but there's a lot online these days - it's just a matter of finding the right fit. Podcasts have become another great joy for me and I love all that I'm learning each week from the ones I've discovered so far. I'm open to other suggestions if you have any great ideas feel free to let me know in the comments.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Have you made any life changes during self-isolation? Has the extra free time made you stop and think about what you're doing with your life? Are you embarking on any changes when life goes back to normal, or will it be back to the tried and true routines of pre-pandemic times?

RELATED POSTS


Just because you've "always done it" doesn't mean you have to continue to do so. The new normal we're embracing allows you to make new choices.
#Just because you've "always done it" doesn't mean you have to continue to do so. The new normal we're embracing allows you to make new choices.

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34 comments

  1. Leanne, I recall your “Sparks Joy” post. It gave me great perspective on what does bring me joy. You describe really well how this quarantine time gave me an “opportunity to reassess what was in my life and to make some intentional choices...” I may not return to the “routine” of my usual activities. Your sentence about how some activities I was not keen on getting back into, resonated with me. This is how I feel. The Jim Donovan quote fits perfectly here. I love your words “a better Normal”.

    Many gems and wisdom in this post. I bookmarked it since I want to reread. You are sharing many of my current feelings. I am also reassessing my past life and how do I want to move forward. I look forward to “...sharing ideas...getting my brain engaged and stimulated...” A great, thought-provoking post!

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    1. Hi Erica - I think a lot of us who have the time and space to make changes are going to be re-evaluating some of the stuff we were doing out of habit - stuff that's not serving us well and that we haven't missed over these months of not being able to continue to do it.
      My biggest challenge is figuring out what to keep, what to discard, if I need something new....what gives me a balanced and well rounded life post-covid. I'm looking forward to brain storming how this looks for all of us.

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  2. Hi, Leanne - The Dave Hollis quote (and this entire post) are exactly what most of us need right now. It would be a shame to try to rush into the old life that we had -- mistakes, warts, disappointments, false obligations and all. Taking the time to reflect on what we truly want to continue, what we would like to pause, and what we would like to add is excellent advice.

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    1. Hi Donna - I think we all were a bit blindsided by being locked down and told to take a break, but when we use that time to re-evaluate and make some fresh choices, then I feel like it had a really positive impact (besides the health reasons of course!)

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  3. Hi Leanne, you're right, now is a great time to re-assess our lives and what we are doing with our time. You know that there have been a lot of changes for me since March, and having these past 2-3 months to stop and reflect on life has led Olivier and I to make some big plans for our lives in the months to come. So I guess in a way my changes were kind of forced by this situation but I'm grateful that I have had time to sit and reflect without any other pressures (lack of time and money, work, family) to steer me in the 'wrong' direction! I hope that your future will be full of activities that enrich your life! :-)

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    1. Hi Cheryl - I'm so glad you've had the breathing space to be able to make those decisions - your life is in such a period of flux atm and it will be nice to be able to go forward proactively (rather than reactively!) I just want my life to be about things that I enjoy, and making choices rather than doing things out of habit or obligation - that's a big change for me!

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  4. I love this Leanne and it's something I've been thinking about as well. I think there's a real opportunity to take some of the lessons of the past few months and look at a new normal. x

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    1. Hi Deb - I think a lot of us are looking at our lives and trying to figure out what the future looks like and why we do a lot of stuff that we're not particularly attached to. Letting it all go for a while seems to have allowed us the headspace to make better choices - and that's such an exciting prospect.

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  5. Thanks Leanne for hosting #MLSTL and sharing examples about ways you are reassessing what you truly want to do. I am doing a similar thing and find I devote more time and attention to those things and activities that warm my soul, rather than those I'm just used to doing because it's a routine. Be well, stay safe, and happy choosing.

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    1. Hi Nancy - perfectly said - it's more about the soul than habit for me too these days. Doing something just because it's always been done isn't enough for me anymore - there needs to be a bit more of a connection to get me out the door these days!

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  6. Hi Leanne, It's a good practice to review periodically and make fresh choices on how we want to spend our time. The new choices are good for our brain health. #MLSTL

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    1. You're right Natalie - my brain needs a bit of a kick start now and then, so each new thing that I try is probably helping me to hold onto a few more brain cells for a bit longer - not a bad incentive at all!

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  7. I only have a couple of obligations (other than work) and I think all of them stay. I started doing online Uni courses in lockdown and I'm hoping I can manage my time to keep doing them. I really loved learning. #MLSTL

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    1. My husband has found the same thing Lydia - he's loving the learning and the challenge of passing each unit as he gets through it.

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  8. Hi Leanne, as you know I've made some changes during my life in isolation and have renewed enthusiasm for my blog and future direction. I also enjoyed discarding obligations because it took the pressure off. Everyone was in lock down so I couldn't do things anyway. It certainly gave me the break I needed to refocus on what I want. I love the term 'time affluence' because it really is knowing why we are doing something and if it is adding value to our life. Thanks again for co-hosting #MLSTL and I'll be sharing on social media. xx

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    1. Hi Sue - yes, you certainly made the most of your timeout and the inspiration is flowing all over the place. I didn't have any epiphanies, but I did use the break away from everything to look at it objectively and to figure out what I really enjoyed and what wasn't really ringing my bells anymore. It's the perfect time to make some changes and to start afresh - might as well make the most of the down time!

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  9. Hi Leanne, I love the quote by Jim Donovan. I think it's great to reinvent your life after big upheavals like this. Especially to drop all the things that weren't working for us before such as the volunteering. I got really burnt out after 10 years of volunteering at the church - ministry work, children's church and youth group. It was really demanding and I had very little help. I won't ever put my hand up for that again! This is a good chance for everyone to rethink their life and start afresh with new direction. Great post, regards Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - it's very easy to allow ourselves to put our hand up for volunteer positions because we feel needed and able to make the time to help others. But, like any other "job" sometimes we can reach the point where it's not working for us anymore and it's time to hand the reins onto someone else. I like that I don't have any commitments atm - I can pick and choose what I go out to - and that's really refreshing for me. Who knows what the future holds? I'm getting much better at living it one day at a time - which is a big change for me.

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  10. Hi Leanne. It seems you’ve been in my head. I’ve been having very similar thoughts during isolation. There are some commitments that I won’t be continuing with after isolation. Yesterday we were told by the doctor that we have to stay isolated until the end of July and then reassess. The doc seems to think that it will be longer. I’m happy that I now have more time to decide about whether to go back to work.

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    1. Hi Jennifer - I think when we don't have a real pull towards going back to something then maybe it's time to pass the torch to the next person. As far as working goes, I still had a small thought about finding something, but after covid I look at all the people who desperately need a job, and I don't want to fight them for a position that I don't really need. I'm happy in my own space doing things on my own terms - and I'm finally coming to see that it's okay to live that way (and it's very inexpensive!)
      I hope you settle into a definite decision one way or the other and I'm glad you have the extra time to make up your mind and be certain. x

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  11. I've found it interesting that this has given a lot of us the opportunity to change things that we otherwise wouldn't change that aren't suiting us right now. While my daily responsibilities haven't changed, other things have simplified - and that suits me nicely.

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    1. Hi Jo - yes, that's it exactly - it's like everything finally stopped long enough for us to take a look and decide that we do or don't care about whether it re-starts. I'm taking up most things that stopped, but there's a couple that will be discarded or reduced - now I'm also figuring out what to fill that free time with (if anything!) and loving that it's intentional now, rather than from habit.

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  12. It's interesting that I've not identified anything I would not re-start. For me it's been more mourning the loss of things I really liked to do!

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    1. Hi Pat - I think that's because you gave a lot more thought to your retirement and how you wanted to spend you time than I did. I took on anything and everything that I thought I might enjoy and have found some are wearing a bit thin. Having a few months away from them has allowed me the grace (to myself) of saying this isn't working and it's time to move onto something else.

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  13. Good for you leanne. There is so much wisdom here. And because you have such a large audience, you are modeling taking one's time and making careful decisions. I think for most of us that last thing we need is to make ourselves crazy trying to get back to the way things were. This is an opportunity we did not choose but are wise to engage. imo Blessings, Michele

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    1. Oh Michele that last sentence is perfect! The opportunity we didn't choose but are wise to use - it feels to me like it gave lockdown an added postive outcome - where it let me stop and re-evaluate and make intentional choices about the future and how I want to life to look going forward.

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  14. I loved reading your thoughts of this time Leanne and your plans for the new normal! The quotes are perfect and I think many of us be rethinking how our life returns to some form of new normal, each of us will have to work it out ourselves. Your insights are always welcome and connecting with like minded women is a joy for us all, we are very lucky to have this time in our lives. I've pinned for #mlstl

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    1. Hi Deb - blogging has been such a joy as far as meeting and engaging with women who just "get" me and who are walking similar paths. The fact that we understand each other and are often feeling the same way about life events makes me really happy - and gives me the confidence to know I'm on the right path with the decisions I'm making. Thanks so much for being one of them xx

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  15. Leanne ~ I love your measured approach, rather than rushing, back to "normal." This lockdown-slash-break has given all of us a chance to defrag and reboot our lives. (How do you like that? Low-tech little me coming up with such a metaphor!)

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  16. A topic I identified with...overly keen to keep on helping as a volunteer but not counting the person cost to me. As you know I do a lot of work voluntarily to promote and raise awareness of head and neck cancers via Beyond Five where I am an ambassador. However, I sometimes forget I can do this at a pace which suits me. I have to make a choice for better balance of the other parts of my life. It's a constant for me that I can 'over' commit but I am learning far more easily to say no...to me first! And yes to more I what keeps me happy and well. Denyse #mlstl

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  17. CONGRATULATIONS, Leanne! Our Elise has chosen this great post to be featured in the next Blogger' Pit Stop.
    Kathleen

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    1. Thanks Kathleen (and Elise) it's always an honour to be chosen to be featured at the Pitstop.

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  18. Sorry I got here so late, Leanne. It does seem like the right time to read your post though. I've been reassessing a lot too. And how I spend my time is certainly one of the things I've been reviewing. Moving from the 'shoulds' to the 'want-tos' is what I'm doing and also trying to get past the guilt on days I just don't feel like doing anything other than household chores and reading!
    Thanks for this inspiring post and good luck with your choices.

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    1. Hi Corinne - I've been doing exactly the same as you - figuring out what was a "should" and could be dispensed with - if I haven't missed it, then it's safe to assume it can be released. I'm also getting better at dawdling through a day and enjoying being at home with fewer commitments - it's nice to see lockdown had some positives for us!

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