Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

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steve321
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Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

I hope this is the right section to ask people who have retired early about their lifestyle and about some tips on the subject I describe below.
I am thinking about retiring completely (I am basically semi-retired and working from home at present) but I don't know whether that's a good idea.
For one thing I feel uncomfortable, now that I work much less and have more spare time, to say no when someone (family or friend) asks me to do something for them (I mean something that will cost me time, not money); I basically find it more stressful to say no rather than to just do it. Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy helping friends and family, it's just that I'd rather do some things but not others, and now that I don't have the excuse of work I find it harder to refuse almost anything.
So I am thinking, if I retire completely, instead of pursuing my interests I might end up doing a bunch of things that I don't really value, just to please friends and family and because I don't have an excuse to refuse.
I am also thinking that perhaps having a well defined project for retirement, rather than just playing it by ear and taking every day as it comes, might minimize this risk.
Anyway, I don't know whether you've had this experience, and if so if you have any tips, and please forgive me if this is not the right place to ask.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by bighatnohorse »

"I'm working on some personal projects right now, but I can do that for you next". . . . week, month, year, etc.
You don't have to say "no". . .simply postpone. It can be effective. Most managers use that ploy.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by sailaway »

No is a perfectly acceptable answer.

It takes practice to learn to just say no.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by galving »

Not a retiree. . .but in a household of two engineers the current # of lists requires an app to fully manage.
Its hard to envision a future without continuing a similar ritual:

Items for the Dogs
Items for the House
Projects for the House
Vacations
Vacation Destinations
Items required for Vacations
Vacation Houses to Buy
Projects for the Vacation House
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by jimmyq »

I think it really depends on the type of person you are. I'm the type of person that likes to have defined projects. I usually have at least two projects going on at once, one that I can do outside if weather is nice (such as fixing a shed, or taking lessons to become a private pilot), and another indoor project that I can pursue regardless of weather (such as remodeling a room or building a small experimental airplane in the garage). I look forward to working on these each day.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

bighatnohorse wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:19 am "I'm working on some personal projects right now, but I can do that for you next". . . . week, month, year, etc.
You don't have to say "no". . .simply postpone. It can be effective. Most managers use that ploy.
yes thanks; I did something like that yesterday, saying 'I'll do it in September.' However I still feel quite uncomfortable since 1. if I don't do it in September that would amount to having lied and 2. I feel that since I have quite a lot of free time, I could have got it done now and forget about it.
But yes thank you, perhaps I can postpone to an indefinite future next time...
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

sailaway wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:27 am No is a perfectly acceptable answer.

It takes practice to learn to just say no.
Thanks. Hope it can indeed be learnt by practice by anyone including me (so that I'll be able to say it without becoming too stressed).
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by livesoft »

My personality does not let me lie or beat around the bush when it comes to telling people what I think, so I just let them know directly without delay about their projects which are not my projects.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by Sandtrap »

DW gives me all the projects I can handle. We do them together.

So, no additional projects from friends and family can be done.
"Sorry, no can do. No time."

Seek balance.
Compartmentalize one's own passions. . .
and also with and for others.

Too much of the former and we become antisocial and turn into a mole.
Too much of the latter and that's not good at all because we don't nurture our Self.

All things in moderation. . . including moderation.

This is the way.
j :happy
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by sailaway »

steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:38 am
sailaway wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:27 am No is a perfectly acceptable answer.

It takes practice to learn to just say no.
Thanks. Hope it can indeed be learnt by practice by anyone including me (so that I'll be able to say it without becoming too stressed).
If my husband can learn, anyone can learn.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by BolderBoy »

livesoft wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:40 amMy personality does not let me lie or beat around the bush when it comes to telling people what I think, so I just let them know directly without delay about their projects which are not my projects.
+1. I'm like this, too. After a while people quit asking (and eventually quit having anything to do with me.)
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by VictoriaF »

Citing from Peter Attia's 26 July 2020 email titled "The power of no":
- “When you’re saying yes, you’re saying no to something else. Everything in life has a price.” (Peter Attia's podcast with Ric Elias.)
- "Time is the ultimate currency. We often fail to appreciate just how much of a premium we should place on this resource."
- Peter Attia now keeps a “no” journal. "I’m a firm believer in the idea that what gets measured gets managed. Anytime I say no to an ask that I would have previously said yes to, I record the ask into my journal."
- Saying 'yes' to future engagements that one would not have accepted for today is a bias of future discounting. Try to see the future event for what it really is in the present moment.
- "saying no does not mean you’re a bad person. However, there are good and bad ways to decline an invitation that can make the difference between coming off as selfish and unkind versus being respectful and grateful. When saying no, Jason makes sure to appreciate the invitation while also being honest about the demands of his time."

In my [VictoriaF] opinion, you need to have a project around which you will structure your time. This project could be to learn, to produce, or to experience. But when you need to say 'no,' using your project as an excuse could make things worse. If you decline requests politely without being specific, it's hard to argue with you generally being busy. But as soon as you provide a specific reason it becomes a matter of discussion. If you give in and take time away from your project to satisfy a request, it's more likely that others will expect you to use more of your "project time" in the future.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by AAA »

Let's not also forget that if you are lucky retirement can bring the opportunity for idleness. Being able to do nothing is a luxury, in moderation of course. To me it would be perfectly okay to turn down a request without having what might be considered a legitimate reason i.e. another task at hand.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

BolderBoy wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:45 am
livesoft wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:40 amMy personality does not let me lie or beat around the bush when it comes to telling people what I think, so I just let them know directly without delay about their projects which are not my projects.
+1. I'm like this, too. After a while people quit asking (and eventually quit having anything to do with me.)
:D I wish I were like that. Actually I wouldn't mind too much if many of the people that keep asking me for favors stopped having anything to do with me. It's just that sometimes I am anxious that they become hostile. But it's probably just an irrational anxiety.
I think I made the mistake of being too generous in the past and some people take advantage now, but I need to end this.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by Chuck107 »

Depends on what the help is...

Change out a light fixture or ceiling fan, or any other easy on the back work that takes no more time than a sit down with a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze no problem.

Build a deck, remove and replace any major appliance... no.
Help install a new elec hw heater, maybe, as long as someone else removes the old one and brings in the new one.

Help with inside painting, maybe, I hate painting.
Outside painting or staining... no.

I have bad back issues, so I have an excuse for a lot of stuff.
It's not hard to use that as an excuse even if you do not suffer from it "yet".

I have enough projects of my own to do at my own pace.
Alas, I find moderation of this forum too restrictive for my tastes, farewell.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by livesoft »

BolderBoy wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:45 am
livesoft wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:40 amMy personality does not let me lie or beat around the bush when it comes to telling people what I think, so I just let them know directly without delay about their projects which are not my projects.
+1. I'm like this, too. After a while people quit asking (and eventually quit having anything to do with me.)
I didn't write that I always said "No." For instance, this month I was asked to give two different lectures to a group of scientists working on coronavirus which I was happy to do.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

VictoriaF wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:49 am Citing from Peter Attia's 26 July 2020 email titled "The power of no":
- “When you’re saying yes, you’re saying no to something else. Everything in life has a price.” (Peter Attia's podcast with Ric Elias.)
- "Time is the ultimate currency. We often fail to appreciate just how much of a premium we should place on this resource."
- Peter Attia now keeps a “no” journal. "I’m a firm believer in the idea that what gets measured gets managed. Anytime I say no to an ask that I would have previously said yes to, I record the ask into my journal."
- Saying 'yes' to future engagements that one would not have accepted for today is a bias of future discounting. Try to see the future event for what it really is in the present moment.
- "saying no does not mean you’re a bad person. However, there are good and bad ways to decline an invitation that can make the difference between coming off as selfish and unkind versus being respectful and grateful. When saying no, Jason makes sure to appreciate the invitation while also being honest about the demands of his time."

In my [VictoriaF] opinion, you need to have a project around which you will structure your time. This project could be to learn, to produce, or to experience. But when you need to say 'no,' using your project as an excuse could make things worse. If you decline requests politely without being specific, it's hard to argue with you generally being busy. But as soon as you provide a specific reason it becomes a matter of discussion. If you give in and take time away from your project to satisfy a request, it's more likely that others will expect you to use more of your "project time" in the future.

Victoria
Thank you Victoria, these are excellent points! I like your advice. Indeed I have noticed that when other people decline they don't usually don't give a specific reason, like you say. Probably having a project will be more useful (in this context) in sofar as it will make me feel more comfortable in declining, since if I don't have anything important to do I feel kind of guilty to decline.
And I like your idea of learning and experiencing projects (rather than only produce projects). I will be drawing and painting; but most of the other things I want to do actually involve more abstract learning.
I'll look for the podcast. Btw I quite like Attia, I have recently done a 5 day fast myself.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by VictoriaF »

steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:56 am For one thing I feel uncomfortable, now that I work much less and have more spare time, to say no when someone (family or friend) asks me to do something for them (I mean something that will cost me time, not money)
You work much less now and will work not at all in retirement. But that does not mean that you have more spare time. There is no such a thing as "spare time." You have a finite amount of time to live and it's your responsibility to use this time to serve your goals.

Retirement time is not a "free time." It's time over which you have more control than when you are working.

I recommend that you internalize this concept. Believe in it, and you won't have a problem saying 'no.'

Victoria
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

livesoft wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:58 am
BolderBoy wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:45 am
livesoft wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:40 amMy personality does not let me lie or beat around the bush when it comes to telling people what I think, so I just let them know directly without delay about their projects which are not my projects.
+1. I'm like this, too. After a while people quit asking (and eventually quit having anything to do with me.)
I didn't write that I always said "No." For instance, this month I was asked to give two different lectures to a group of scientists working on coronavirus which I was happy to do.
do you find people become hostile to you if you say no? Some people argue that people will respect you more if you are able to say no to them sometimes. I guess the way you do it is important.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by VictoriaF »

steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:03 am And I like your idea of learning and experiencing projects (rather than only produce projects). I will be drawing and painting; but most of the other things I want to do actually involve more abstract learning.
I'll look for the podcast. Btw I quite like Attia, I have recently done a 5 day fast myself.
Excellent! You are on a good path. And you are far ahead of me with fasting; my best time was only 26 hours.

Good luck,

Victoria
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

VictoriaF wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:09 am

Excellent! You are on a good path. And you are far ahead of me with fasting; my best time was only 26 hours.

Good luck,

Victoria
Thank you :happy The hardest time in fasting (I find) are the first 2 days; after that you are not really hungry any more and so it's a lot easier to carry on :happy
Best wishes,
Steve
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by FrugalInvestor »

I find that most people who ask me to do things for them either....

1. Don't want to make the physical effort to do it.
2. Don't want to make the mental effort to figure out how to do it.
3. Don't want to go through the hassle of finding a qualified professional to do it.
4. Don't want to pay for it to be done (but are perfectly able to).
5. Or multiples of the above.

So I am very selective about what I do for people and who I do it for. Rather than saying 'no' I often will help them by taking a look at their problem or project, explaining what I think needs to be done, and then recommending a qualified professional to call if I happen to know of one.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by EddyB »

galving wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:27 am Not a retiree. . .but in a household of two engineers the current # of lists requires an app to fully manage.
Its hard to envision a future without continuing a similar ritual:

Items for the Dogs
Items for the House
Projects for the House
Vacations
Vacation Destinations
Items required for Vacations
Vacation Houses to Buy
Projects for the Vacation House
List of lists.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by CardinalRule »

I'm expecting to retire before DW does. And so I'm also expecting a dynamic honey do list.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by eldinerocheapo »

Sounds like you have a big heart to help out when and where needed, and that's not a bad thing. Only, when this becomes an inconvenience or their is a lack of appreciation should you beg off. Also, your time is valuable to you no matter whether you're tending your own garden, sleeping or reading a great novel. I'm retired and have told people that I'm working on the "honey do" list and they instantly understand my free time is devoted to keeping the boss happy, without further comment.

My bottom line is, if it's not fun, I probably won't volunteer my time and resources to anyone other than immediate family, or very close friends.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by livesoft »

steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:04 amdo you find people become hostile to you if you say no? Some people argue that people will respect you more if you are able to say no to them sometimes. I guess the way you do it is important.
Nope, no one is hostile to me, but how could they be since I am such a nice guy?
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by Hayden »

I personally need to have a project. That has nothing to do with whether or not I help someone. Those are unrelated issues to me.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by climbingFool »

No one has discussed physical activity. I'm pretty sure all studies show it's good for physical and mental health. At 61 I climb every other day and often mountain bike on rest days. I'm also perfecting my kayak roll for longer rainy periods. Climbing is a sport anyone not overweight can enjoy starting at any age.

I was always so busy with work, kids sports, and my own passions that I didn't get into the trading help routine. Anything I can't do in a day or two I just hire out. I figured if I didn't ask anyone to help me I wouldn't be as likely to get asked for help. Other friends of mine really enjoy that trading help - just not my thing. It depends on what you enjoy doing.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

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climbingFool wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:37 pm No one has discussed physical activity. I'm pretty sure all studies show it's good for physical and mental health. At 61 I climb every other day and often mountain bike on rest days. I'm also perfecting my kayak roll for longer rainy periods. Climbing is a sport anyone not overweight can enjoy starting at any age.

I was always so busy with work, kids sports, and my own passions that I didn't get into the trading help routine. Anything I can't do in a day or two I just hire out. I figured if I didn't ask anyone to help me I wouldn't be as likely to get asked for help. Other friends of mine really enjoy that trading help - just not my thing. It depends on what you enjoy doing.
I did some climbing but my climbing partner broke his shoulder. Also someone I knew fell and died when he went climbing in the Dolomites, so I 've stopped and I don't think I'll go climbing again.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by FIREchief »

steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:56 am For one thing I feel uncomfortable, now that I work much less and have more spare time, to say no when someone (family or friend) asks me to do something for them (I mean something that will cost me time, not money); I basically find it more stressful to say no rather than to just do it.
True family and friends don't use a person as free labor just to make their own lives easier. Sure, if it's a child or close sibling who really needs the help, than it's a labor of love and worth doing. Everybody else? Well, they can just...... :twisted:
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by SR II »

steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:34 am
bighatnohorse wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:19 am "I'm working on some personal projects right now, but I can do that for you next". . . . week, month, year, etc.
You don't have to say "no". . .simply postpone. It can be effective. Most managers use that ploy.
yes thanks; I did something like that yesterday, saying 'I'll do it in September.' However I still feel quite uncomfortable since 1. if I don't do it in September that would amount to having lied and 2. I feel that since I have quite a lot of free time, I could have got it done now and forget about it.
But yes thank you, perhaps I can postpone to an indefinite future next time...
If this is possible, you can always do it now and sit on it until September!
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

FIREchief wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:52 pm
steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:56 am For one thing I feel uncomfortable, now that I work much less and have more spare time, to say no when someone (family or friend) asks me to do something for them (I mean something that will cost me time, not money); I basically find it more stressful to say no rather than to just do it.
True family and friends don't use a person as free labor just to make their own lives easier. Sure, if it's a child or close sibling who really needs the help, than it's a labor of love and worth doing. Everybody else? Well, they can just...... :twisted:
that's an excellent point, I had thought about it and rationally I saw this. But emotionally I have problems dealing with this; but yes thanks for reminding me :happy
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

SR II wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:56 pm
steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:34 am
bighatnohorse wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:19 am "I'm working on some personal projects right now, but I can do that for you next". . . . week, month, year, etc.
You don't have to say "no". . .simply postpone. It can be effective. Most managers use that ploy.
yes thanks; I did something like that yesterday, saying 'I'll do it in September.' However I still feel quite uncomfortable since 1. if I don't do it in September that would amount to having lied and 2. I feel that since I have quite a lot of free time, I could have got it done now and forget about it.
But yes thank you, perhaps I can postpone to an indefinite future next time...
If this is possible, you can always do it now and sit on it until September!
That's a good one :D to be honest, I've used this trick in the past :D :D (I was afraid that they'd come back for more if I had done it too soon :wink: )
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by wanderer »

I do like projects, but not “obligations”.

A neighbor helped me out many years ago when I was attempting to build my first deck. He must have seen my incompetence, as he came over and coached me through it. He was a 2nd hand occasionally, while allowing me to do the work and just being available to consult. So I try to pay that back In the same manner. I’ll help someone, but will not do it for them. So when asked to do a project, I offer to help, but make clear I’m not comfortable doing it for them. Seems to work, and on a couple larger projects I convinced them to hire it out. I do this for family too. Helping someone makes me feel good too - so win-win.

Sometimes I do things as a labor of love for family and/or a local charity to which I am dedicated to helping.

Btw: the hardest part of my first 5-day fast was re-starting regular meals too quickly. Best of health to you!
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by MikeG62 »

steve321 wrote: Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:56 am
...So I am thinking, if I retire completely, instead of pursuing my interests I might end up doing a bunch of things that I don't really value, just to please friends and family and because I don't have an excuse to refuse.

I am also thinking that perhaps having a well defined project for retirement, rather than just playing it by ear and taking every day as it comes, might minimize this risk.
In my 5th year of early retirement and no I don't need a project or projects to keep from being bored. There is enough structure to my life - such as working out six mornings per week (used to go to the gym each morning, but since the gyms have closed I do it now at home) - that I value my free time to do whatever I want. DW and I do travel quite a bit (or did before Covid-19) - sleeping out 45-60 nights per year. This amount of travel not only consumes 6-9 weeks each year, but a lot of time is required for planning.

With regard to the second part of your question, it is unclear to me what these projects are that friends and family continue to ask you to do for them. Could you provide some examples?

Part of me feels like they are using you as a pro bono contractor of sorts. On the other hand, perhaps you have a unique expertise of skill set and they believe you love doing what it is they are asking you to do. Hard to relate to it without more specifics.

I have relatives that ask for my advice (usually related to matter of finance) and I do spend time helping those who ask. However, these never feel like projects and rarely take a ton of my time. I enjoy helping them. I have adult daughters who from time to time need help in their house/apartment. These are small projects and I am happy to help them (especially when it saves them money). These are almost always one-off things, which consume a tiny percentage of my time.

In general, I think you need to find a way to get comfortable saying no or steering them in the direction of professionals who do the kind of work they are looking to have done. Could be as simple as saying that while you don't mind doing these projects for yourself, you aren't really comfortable doing them for others because if they don't turn out as anticipated you'd feel bad. When doing them for yourself you are willing to live with the consequences if things don't go according to plan. If they don't accept that as reasonable, then I would not feel bad about saying no as I'd feel they are really just looking for free labor. Those people should look elsewhere for their needs.
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by steve321 »

wanderer wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:00 am
Btw: the hardest part of my first 5-day fast was re-starting regular meals too quickly. Best of health to you!
Yes good point. And re-feeding can be dangerous I once did a much longer fast (I think I was a little crazy in retrospect, though they do seem to have health benefits) and upon re-feeding my potassium levels went down (as in re-feeding syndrome). That was the risky part of it. So yes you have to be very careful when you start eating again. Anyway that's a completely different subject...
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Re: Advice from retirees: do you need a project or do you 'play it by ear'?

Post by oldcomputerguy »

This topic is locked. The OP's question is at its core concerned with interaction with family and friends, a relationship issue that is off-topic for the forum. See Acceptable Topics:
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