Retirement. What does that mean anyway? You work X amount of years and when you reach a certain pre-determined age you stop? And depending on what that age is you receive a check from the government each month that is just enough to pay for cat food and kitty litter. So I hope you’ve saved something. Or maybe you’re lucky and worked for a large old-school company or a government entity that pays a little more. But I still hope you’ve saved something.
Heres what I learned. Things don’t always go as planned (wow, profound, right?) I “retired” last year even though my full retirement age (66) was this month. The company I worked for decided to merge with another company and realized that to make it work they had to part ways with some people. The way it happened was pretty funny – that is if you have a very cynical sense of humor.
Last year, in the last week of August, we had our yearly technical meeting. You know, the kind where they demonstrate all of the company’s latest advances and talk about how with them we were going to demolish the competition ( I love all the violent metaphors everybody in corporate america uses – Oorah!) Last year’s meeting was in Dallas so they were sure to include a couple off-sites involving barbecue and line-dancing. It was great; I even got an award for successful completion of a deep-dive (there’s another corporate buzzword – sorry) training class. So cut to Thursday, the next-to-last day. My boss casually walks up to me during lunch and says, “by the way, tomorrow will be your last day at XXXX – but hey, if you decide to keep working you got some really good training to use in your new job!” Right, thanks a lot, I know a lot of companies out there that are looking for a soon-to-be 65-year-old to round out their technical sales force.
So here I am! At least now I have the time to write this blog and brush up on my diminished 7th scales!
According to a Gallup poll from 2014, 55% of people get some sense of identity from work. That number goes to 70% when looking at college graduates. So it can be devastating when that relationship ends – especially if you were not in control when it happens.
Now they say love what you do and you will never work a day in your life. So I think most people would say something like “I always wanted to be a doctor – so if I do that I will be happy.” And then they find that the reality doesn’t match their ideal and they’re miserable. Rich but miserable. Which leads me to another thing. They say money can’t buy happiness but this study published in July of this year in the journal PNAS shows in a surprising way it sort of can but maybe not in the way you would think..
In my personal experience, it’s not necessarily what you do for a living that makes you happy but what your attitude is toward whatever you do. Case in point – I have been playing music for a long time and sometimes still wistfully think about how my life would have been if my passion was my vocation – instead of just enjoying the fact that I have a unique talent that brings joy to myself and those around me. This article in Psychology Today provides an interesting perspective on the effect that attitude can have on the small things – and things not so small.
Until next time.