Stepping Off the Treadmill

“Back on the treadmill!” my colleague would announce every Monday morning,

A classroom teacher’s treadmill is set to sprint-mode. No warm-up.  There are staff development sessions that threaten to never end, lesson plans that look great on paper, new initiatives that appear suspiciously recycled, parent-teacher conferences, and 25-plus kids to manage every minute of every day.

Have you seen those Said-No-Teacher-Ever quotes?

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Even the most dedicated, passionate, beloved classroom teacher looks forward to life beyond the treadmill.  Ah, to read a novel, take a walk, have an adult beverage on a Sunday night. Monday night.  Tuesday night.

But stepping off that treadmill is not as easy as it sounds.

Joy and I are in our first post-work year.  And we’re trying to find life-balance beyond the treadmill.  Retirement, we’re thinking is a misnomer.

Whether you’re in the work force or not, there is a human need for productivity.  We are wired to work (just not to be consumed by it.  “If only I had put in more hours at the job” said no person ever at the end of his/her days.)

But working encompasses more than a paycheck. You’ve no doubt heard of the 5 basic human needs in the workplace.

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These human needs are still present in retirement.

In one  fascinating study.  participants sat in an empty room for 15 minutes, alone with their thoughts.  The majority actually chose to give themselves an electrical shock to avoid boredom.  Boredom is unhealthy for the human spirit.

The BBC recently reported that being bored can “push people to harm themselves; a proneness to boredom was linked to a tendency to smoke, drink too much, and take drugs.”

And who has not lingered at the refrigerator door looking for something, anything, to consume – out of sheer boredom?

So, may we ignore that beckoning couch where season 3 of The Crown awaits alongside a Costco size bag of Skinnypop.  (Well, just not that often!)

Retirement means finding the interval setting on our treadmill  — taking naps but also embracing productivity (sports, volunteer opportunities, teaching or taking a class) — activities that would put our couch and refrigerator to shame.

And then and only then do we get to open that Skinnypop bag!

And maybe eat the whole thing.

Today’s Takeaway:

  • Find activities where you matter. There’s a people group somewhere waiting for YOU.  They may be yearning to be read to or waiting for their house to be built.
  • Seek life-balance.  There’s nothing wrong with binging on The Crown, the Bachelorette, or The Voice — which I am recording even now!

Enjoy the ride!

xox, Barclay and Joy

P.S  Check out this video of people falling off treadmills! This will be me someday!

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