Respect Speed Limits in Life

I’m trying to learn how to respect the speed limits in my life.

Speed Limits
Speed Limits — photo courtesy of Bill Smith

Before I retired, I had a vision of a relaxed lifestyle with time for gardening, reading, playing the piano, knitting, and other hobbies. I imagined that there would be time to visit friends, time for travel, time to watch movies, time for regular exercise, and time to take courses.

I’ve done many of these things.

However, the relaxed lifestyle has been elusive!  I still feel addicted to ‘speed’ through the days, moving from one task or activity to another.

It’s difficult to slow down and relax. Something deep inside wants to continue to achieve results. An inner voice inside keeps making productivity demands. I evaluate the success of a day by  accomplishments.

Why are life’s speed limits difficult?

Some of the difficulty lies in my type A personality .  I have always pushed myself.  There is a ‘go-getter’ side of me that fears stagnation.

Perhaps there is something deeper that keeps me from the relaxed lifestyle? Is it FOMO (fear of missing out)? You can read a post about FOMO and social media here.

In spite of reminding myself that there is less to gain or lose as I no longer work for money, I continue to worry that I’ll miss something important in the retirement experience.

Is speeding through the day related to self-esteem?  Do I have to keep proving my worth? Doing and achieving are definitely linked to self-esteem.  Past accomplishments, recognition, and rewards make good memories that can’t be taken away. However,  it’s important to keep accomplishing various things during retirement to reinforce that we are capable and have value.

An achievement orientation may be a holdover from career days when deadlines, schedules, and performance expectations ruled. Those years left me addicted to productivity measurement and goal achievement.

Business school also played a part as it left me with strong convictions that measurement is one of the key principles for success. Metrics were emblazoned into my soul! Measurement and goal-setting became the ‘lynch pins’ for any good productivity strategy. Achievement ruled and high-speed expectations became the norm.

Some of the difficulty with respecting the speed limits in life can also be attributed to the speed-addicted culture in which we live. Whether it is the lightning-fast trading of financial markets around the world, or the speed of wireless communication, life zooms along. There is 24/7 information bombardment.

If my life has speed limits, there is no posted maximum or minimum. Just as when I get into a new car, there is the temptation to rev up my life and see how fast I can go. Retirement has not been synonymous with slowing down.

Moving toward a relaxed lifestyle

I’ve decided that accepting who I am is the first step.  My basic personality won’t change and past experiences won’t be erased. I will always want more from life. I will want to go faster, and do more than time allows.

The next step is to manage and change behaviour.  A time-crunched world requires realistic expectations. I can use my penchant for measurement with specific task lists that build time blocks for essential tasks and for relaxation.

Instead of only using a daily list, I will identify accomplishments for a week or a season. I will also predetermine how much time to spend on various activities. Calendaring each day and determining how much time to spend on various activities, will identify realistic speed limits for various activities in a week.

None of this will work unless I build in another step which is to allow time for relaxation, hobbies, social, and volunteer commitments. This is where the list gets separated into ‘must do’ and ‘nice to do’ activities. I know myself well enough to understand that I won’t relax or enjoy social times if essential tasks are not completed.

I also know that there are more ‘nice to do’ activities than there is time.  This is where respect for speed limits will be helpful.

Finally, I am making a commitment to readers of my blog to try this for two months.  By the end of the year, I’ll know if a more rigid approach to time management allows me to ease up. If I don’t learn to respect the speed limits in life, I won’t ever achieve my goal of a relaxed approach to retirement.

Thanks for reading this post.  I’m interested in advice from readers about how you respect the speed limits in life.  Please add your comments to my ramblings on time management — and wish me well in my aspirations to change my behaviour.  If you like reading postworksavvy, please subscribe to receive regular posts by email.




4 Replies to “Respect Speed Limits in Life”

  1. Excellent post Jeanette. You’re singing my song. I’ve been retired for several years and until last year, I kept up a very busy schedule filled with all the things you mention. I have an innate need to be productive and change the world! However, after getting breast cancer last year, I cancelled every single one of my commitments and focused on getting well…which I am now. So my days now are filled with what comes my way that particular day, spending more time with my family and measuring my successes by how good a friend, wife, mother, grandmother, sister etc., I am every day. Perhaps this won’t last forever, but it’s the right speed limit for me right now, especially after the hectic life I imposed on myself for so many years. Good luck with figuring out your speed limit.

    1. Pat, Thanks for the encouragement. I am happy to know that you recovered from breast cancer. It’s unfair that such an illness would be the reason for cancelling commitments! Unfortunately, our bodies do have a ways of making us re-assess our lives!
      After five years of retirement, I hope to stay productive without making myself crazy with commitments — either to myself or to others. I hope to reach the point where my speed limit is one of taking each day as it comes. Retirement is too precious to squander by living in a manner that is not fulfilling.
      Be well,

  2. Jeanette, do you think you may have the wrong idea of retirement? Would it not be more relaxing to abolish all schedules and time management strategies? In retirement should one not rather do what one wishes to do, when one wishes? Every other activity could be done if one has time and feels so inclined. If it isn’t accomplished today, so what! It may be done tomorrow. Like you, I have an active, busy lifestyle, perhaps as well a relic of being in business. Certainly it’s not possible to achieve all I set out to do in any given day but It certainly doesn’t stress me out. The undone tasks are carried over and rewritten in the next day of my diary. Eventually the important items are all ticked off.

    1. Hello Joy,
      Your comments have me re-thinking the ideas in the post. I want a retirement without rigid schedules. After retiring, I did not wear a watch for the first year as I just wanted to ‘be’ and to live with my inclinations. Unfortunately, I did get too involved with volunteer work and other obligations that made retirement feel more like work. I am still struggling to meet certain commitments while keeping to a schedule of writing, bridge, book clubs, and some volunteer board commitments. Your excellent advice about less stressing about tasks that are not completed is wisdom that I will take to heart. Perhaps some of the things on my never-ending lists don’t even need doing!
      Be well,

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