Retirement: Why a Life of Leisure Isn’t.

Retirement: Why a Life of Leisure Isn’t.

Ask soon-to-be retirees about their plans, and they will most likely answer with vacation itineraries.  Can retirement truly be a permanent vacation, a life of leisure?  Leisure is a fundamental human need, but a life of only rest and relaxation may not be good for us.


What is Leisure?

Dr. Richard Johnson, founder of Retirement Options and expert on adult development and gerontology, describes leisure as:


“Personally satisfying endeavours outside work which rejuvenate your body, stimulate your mind or enrich your spirit”


It’s a break, breather, vacation or diversion from our everyday lives that gives us pleasure and new energy. In other words, it’s not passive TV or movie watching! (That’s called compensatory leisure – compensating for lack of energy.) Leisure can give us respite in many different forms, and is essential to help us refocus and refresh. In fact, it is one of the 15 retirement success factors identified by Dr. Johnson. But there’s a catch.


The Paradox of Leisure

After decades of working hard, you may be looking forward to a life of leisure in retirement. Think twice about that!


Leisure isn’t leisure if it’s the only thing we do.


Herein lies the irony of leisure. It must be a diversion from our everyday to give our brains and bodies the true benefits of our reprieve. If it is the only thing we do, our leisure activities become our work. Leisure must remain secondary to give us its true benefits.


The Golf Course is not Your Office

When leisure becomes your ‘work’, it no longer gives you that respite that you need. We can see this on the golf course. When your focus turns to results, scores, competitiveness and perhaps pursuing perfection, you’ve lost the pleasure and reprieve that a game of golf can provide. Golf is no longer a diversion, but your ‘work’. Your mind and body will need a ‘vacation’ from golf!


One Person’s Leisure is Another Person’s Work

This bit of wisdom is particularly important to couples. Have you had the retirement ‘leisure’ conversation with your partner yet? Be prepared, you may have different leisure activities you each want to pursue. My hubby likes puttering and fixing things. It’s a diversion for him, but for me? Yuk. It’s chores and work. I prefer hitting the trails for the day. That’s too much ‘work’ for him.
Understanding your own, and each other’s, leisure preferences will help you navigate your retirement choices and decisions. Typically, you will prefer one or two of the following types of leisure:

6 Types of Leisure Preferences

  1. Socializing
  2. Spectator entertainment
  3. Artistic expression
  4. Intellectual stimulation
  5. Physical exercise
  6. Solitary relaxation


Not sure, where you sit on the leisure spectrum? The LifeOptions Profile TM, is an excellent assessment tool provided in the “The Choices We Make” coaching program that helps you understand your leisure and other retirement lifestyle preferences.


Live a Leisurely Life, Not a Life of Leisure

What’s the difference? A life of leisure is a life of scheduled activities that become tasks without much purpose or meaning. It evolves into a life with emptiness, and ironically, stress. It leads to the gradual wearing away of life’s luster, vitality and healthfulness.

A leisurely life is balanced with purpose and leisure, with meaning and pleasure. You are neither under-utilized, nor over. Satisfying your personal leisure preferences helps you live in the present, feel joy and be yourself. Leisure plays a secondary role in your life energizing you to fulfill your primary role – your life’s mission!

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