I’ve had a lot of “work” dreams and trying to make sense of them, I wondered whether it means I have unfinished business of some sort. I’m quite content with my retired life and do not want a job. So, what’s it all about, Alfie?
Dreams are so weird, and I don’t pretend to understand them. The work dreams are rarely good and usually replay the worst aspects of jobs I had during my career. My best guess is the dreams are a way for my mind to unravel the accumulated stress.
Yet there might be another take on it. When I mentioned the question about unfinished business to a friend, he said although I seemed quite content, he had to wonder if I was making the most of my life. Am I reaching my full potential? Perhaps that’s what the dreams are about.
We had a great exchange about what that means. In his view, it’s about living each year as if it’s your last … setting targets and doing more than what you’ve done before. I guess that’s what a lot of people are doing when they post their goals about reading 200 books before Easter.
That deal about year-over-year improvement is too jobbie for me. Stretch goals and all that. And I’m not sure the strategy was successful. In my workplace, we systematically weeded out steady performers who worked as a team in favor of individual superstars who fought over the last porkchop, making everyone miserable.
What if I don’t need to continuously improve myself? For the record, my friend is right … I am content! But here’s a radical thought. What if being content is actually what it means to reach my full potential? What if being alive is my greatest accomplishment? What if ordinary is good enough?
I’ve read a little about Taoism, sometimes known as Daoism, which is a Chinese philosophy that is very much about going with the flow. I love the idea that not reaching too far might be the essence of freedom.
While I applaud and respect those who drive themselves harder, there’s room for underachievers, too. If you are among those who resist excessive productivity, I hope you find pleasure in knowing you are not alone.
As for me, I am content to work below my means. It’s a sweet gig, actually.
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.