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Staying Busy Vs. Staying Engaged

Are you staying busy or are you staying engaged?

I think there is a definite difference between the two – and this came to my attention recently when I was talking with a long-time friend and associate who retired a few years ago. After taking several long trips with girlfriends, spending time with her grown son and daughter, and even attending to some repairs around the house, one morning she found herself wondering what she was going to do for the day.

We are now talking about her coming on board a few days a week to help me with some client/practice back office work, but in the middle of our conversation, I asked her, “Are you staying busy are are you staying engaged?”

She wants to stay engaged, of course. All of us do! We can keep ourselves occupied doing busywork, but are we really maximizing our potential to not only work our brains, but make a difference in our lives and in the community?

For many years, I delivered meals every other Monday to a variety of people, everyone from infirm and ill seniors to younger people who just couldn’t afford meals on their own. One of the things that struck me was how most of the seniors were not engaged; I’m not sure why they weren’t, but it was probably a combination of no one engaging with them and apathy. Either way, I always thought how much more vital these people could be kept interested in doing something besides just sitting and watching TV.

We all work with people who would rather stay busy than stay engaged. Of course, that’s a personal choice and goodness knows, companies and organizations of all sizes and industries need people just like this. I’m not saying that’s the wrong way to live your life; it’s just not for me.

What are ways we can stay engaged?

  • Read the newspaper, either online or print.
  • Exercise; even if it’s only slow walking, that’s great.
  • Work a crossword puzzle, Sudoku or something that exercises the brain.
  • Have a meaningful conversation with a friend or family member.
  • Find work that is really interesting (and fun).

I’ve always said I don’t want to be a burden to my son when I’m no longer able to function for myself, but what I hope more than anything is that I don’t turn out to be someone who just sits all day. That’s no way to live a life.

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