The Need to feel productive in retirement

When I was sixteen, I got my first job as a waitress in a family restaurant and I have worked pretty much ever since.  There is something about work that makes you feel productive, even if the job could be described as menial.

In chronological order over the past nearly 50 years (how can that be???), my jobs have included:

High school:  waitress, poultry processor, and assembly line worker

Undergrad:  nanny and library aide

Grad student:  research assistant and teaching assistant

Professional:  public library director, technical services librarian, public library system assistant director, public library system director, public library director, assistant professor, exhibition developer, lecturer, public library director, museum assistant director, grant compliance officer, and instructor

After all those years of work (and education), I continue to feel the need to be productive even though I have retired from full-time employment (for the second time.)  I love days when I can stay home and read for hours.  I love that I no longer catch the bus at 7 AM and get home after 5 PM.  I love having time to do whatever I want to do.

But all that freedom is challenging.  I don’t want to waste these good years, so I find that I still need to feel that I have accomplish something most days.  Really, I need a new understanding — perhaps, a new non-work measure — of what it means to use time productively and still be retired.