Where did the summer go?
Was this summer like how you lived the past year through Covid? Waiting for something to happen or dreading that it won’t? For some this summer was a period of opportunity and excitement. For many others it was more of the same routine. Were you one of those who have their work define what you will do today or next month? Who has the control?
I asked a colleague if she was taking the early retirement offer. She said no because she didn’t know what she would do. She did not say no because she had goals to achieve before she retired. Work is filling her days and setting her schedule. The schedule was important initially because she had goals, dreams, and a family to raise. The job was an important tool in achieving her dreams. What she hadn’t noticed was the focus needed for her work to achieve promotions, raises, and more interesting work became a habit. It became routine, the way to live her life. Without noticing, it changed from being a tool to get what she wanted in life to becoming her way of life. She was no longer the driver, the decision maker.
The transition occurs when the bills are paid good enough, the goals have been mostly met, and the children are starting their own lives. The years going to work established a pattern, a routine that once provided joy and meaning and is now slowly stripping away your happiness. The purpose which initially provided the justification to work those long hours, and to endure the stress of deadlines has diminished or disappeared. What remains is the routine. Now we see the work itself is not the real source of our joy. Instead, it is now a bother, an irritation, something we dread.
Sustained Happiness is generated by doing something you like that you must work at and has purpose. Persisting in a job or routine that no longer serves a purpose is a recipe for being bored, irritated, and possibly depressed. The common response when this is happening is to look ahead to retirement expecting the happiness to return because the routine will be gone. Happiness doesn’t just happen. To be happy requires us to pay attention, know what will make a difference, and be committed to living a life of joy. How will you answer the question of “Where did the summer go?”