Rhythm and retirement: go with the flow


Boredom and distraction are almost opposite in meaning and emotional impact. In the workplace distraction is usually what stops you from doing the work assigned to you. In retirement, where time ticks more slowly and work is no longer the day’s driver, distraction may be the (very natural) way to feel connected, to get outside of yourself.

In part this may be an escape from boredom, it may also be an escape into relevance. If boredom occurs when your personal compass needle is spinning aimlessly, then you may need it to rest and point in a specific direction of distraction; and that is OK if it reduces your anxiety.

As a strategy however, distraction has its limits. My approach is to allow myself the time needed to “undistract” myself by finding a rhythm to what I am doing; then settling into that rhythm, becoming aware of it, until I am no longer distracted.

I believe this can also be called flow and in flow I can, for example, read a book and concentrate on it for a period of time without any imperative to connect to the buzz of the world. But I am not too hard on myself. There’s nothing wrong with stopping that rhythm, after say an hour, in order to join the wing-flapping of the distracting world again. Or even to become bored.

I am sure this is a very personal consideration for which no formula for success applies. You may want to experiment with a mix of boredom, distraction and flow. These three winds can gust and swirl throughout the day.