Posted in New thinking

Task-oriented thinking in a timeless world

retirementIn our working world, we become used to responding to a variety of tasks and deadlines. What happens in our retirement? We are still geared to tasks and specific timelines. Imagine a situation where two individuals who have structured their lives according to tasks, and deadlines. Suddenly, in retirement, we need to change our behaviour and recognize that living in a rural society, the timelines are driven more by natural cycles.  The green beans and the gooseberries need to be picked. The beans have to be blanched, before freezing. The gooseberries turned into jam.

One of the artefacts of task-oriented employment is impatience. There are always additional tasks that arise. We are in a perpetual cycle of motion or uncertainty.

Within the institutional world, we develop an understanding of timelines; the pattern of activity over the year.daedlines In the teaching environment, we understand semesters, final examinations, Summer vacation. In the research environment, there is fieldwork, analysis, writing reports and going to conferences. There is also the structure of the research grant: proposals, the research and the deliverables.

Step forward into the future. Imagine, this structure no longer exists. The structure now relates to lives: births, marriages, separations and deaths.

timLeducAlong with retirement comes the role of ‘elder’. What have we learned from our career? Can we mentor the next generation to address environmental issues? Or the relationship between ‘Man and Nature’? What processes exist so that this knowledge can be applied to current issues in society? How can we change our educational institutions? How can we change our governing institutions?

So often, we hear negative comments about the provincial demographics. Too many retirement-age people. Too many Nova Scotians living a lifestyle of residence in Nova Scotia but working elsewhere in Canada. What will happen when these task-oriented Nova Scotians return home to retire?

Can we envisage a different model? Where those returning to Nova Scotia bring back skills, expertise and understanding that can be applied to future issues in the province?

For example, in my own field ‘Geographic Sciences’ what is the value of knowledge of other geographies? Can we compare and contrast approaches to rural economic development, both within the province, but also across Canada, and at a global level?

The transition from task-oriented thinking (in a working world) to a timeless world (retirement) is universal. Is Nova Scotia, better or less prepared than other jurisdictions? – provinces, countries. Can we position ourselves, ahead of the curve?

Thanks for Edward Wedler for the graphics and Heather Stewart for the inspiration.


3 thoughts on “Task-oriented thinking in a timeless world

  1. An interesting and very relevant blog.

    I’m currently in Merrickville with the Greens. Going into Ottawa tomorrow.


    Sent from my iPad



  2. This is definitely food for thought. Brian and I have never really thought about the transition. This has given us much to talk about. Especially with health issues going on. How will we have to transition?

    Thanks for insight.


  3. Maybe we can learn from some indigenous communities that already have elder-youth programs in place.

    Just yesterday, upon leaving a meeting with the NS Association of Architects, an award-winning, now retired, architect remarked to me how different the “timelessness” of retirement has been. I asked him to clarify. He said he is now free to be more spontaneous and is not so constrained by the deadlines that dictated his working life. Also, coincidentally, he has offered to act as an architecture and sketcher guide (an elder) at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market for our upcoming plein air art project during Architecture Week in early October that will include children and youth this year.


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