The joy of not working 

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. I have however had  dry spell on blogging. I said good-bye to my professional blog at the end of January. It has been on my retirement radar to actively blog on this site. I confess I sat down numerous times to write but just wasn’t feeling it. I guess that dry spell has ended today.

What does retirement look like, you may ask?

  • No alarms. Get up when you feel like it.
  • No deadlines. Get it done when you feel like it.
  • Free time. Did I mention, free time!
  • Time to reinvent yourself. What do you want to be?

I have spent the past three months reinventing — figuring out what my new life should look like. I became an avid podcast listener during my five months of commuting to/from Westfield Center. My friend Amy recommended the Good Life Project podcast by Jonathan Fields. I am an avid listener and follower. This podcast really speaks to me and has guided me in reinventing myself.

On my last day at work, a long time coworker gave me the book, ” The Joy of not Working” by Ernie J. Zelinski [eBook].  I am pretty sure it came my way since the cover had a horse riding a bicycle. Anyway, I have read it twice over these past months. It is an excellent companion to Jonathan Field’s philosophy, focusing on moving from the employed world into a happy unemployed life of leisure. I will blog more about leisure in the coming months. It is the important overriding theme of “The Joy of Not Working”.

A few years back, I sat at breakfast one morning at a data conference with a long-time data architect colleague. We were talking about his first year of retirement and my plans to retire. He gave me one valuable piece of advice that has guided me through these past months. He told me to not make any firm commitments and just enjoy retired life for the first six months. And so I did.

And then came along Jonathan Fields and Ernie Zelinski. These two added content and guidance on what these six months should be. Both of these authors focus on you being in charge of your destiny and actively taking charge of that destiny.

Jonathan Fields speaks more from a more worldly point of view.  I see the core of his philosophy being, make positive changes to your life that grows both you as a person and the people who surround you.

Ernie Zelinski speaks of discovering the real you free of the demands and constraints of the workforce. I see his core principles being, spend quality time looking introspectively to find what makes you tick and enjoy a life of leisure.

A common thread in the above philosophies is to use your talents that make you happy and uniquely you to live that joyous good life. I am a believer in spiritual gifts and that each of us has been given these gifts by a higher being.

So, I was content to let my self-imposed six month worry free, commitment free retirement clock tick down. If you know me, you know I have a problem staying idle. I firmly believe in a concept Zielinski puts importance on to maintain one’s well-being and self confidence.  That concept is that a person needs three things: community, purpose, and structure.

This week I started working on “community”. I have a spiritual gift of community building and it was calling me. As an avid cyclist and advocate for cycling, I saw an absence of a cycling community in my new hometown. Jonathan Field’s words has motivated me to be that change agent in the world of cycling in the heart of Ohio. Using my experience with the Spinoffs, I launched a new cycling club patterned after the Spinoffs, the Heart of Ohio Cyclopaths.

And so I enter a new phase of retirement. It is still evolving but definitely becoming clearer. I now know it will be distinctly mine and be something that changes the world around me. Yes, retirement is good!

Tom Bilcze

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