Two friends in my life taught me lessons about living after “retirement.” The first was many years ago. One of the folks at the mill developed cancer in his early fifties and passed away. My friend was his friend also but they had been buddies a long time. Early in their working careers they use to talk about the fun they were going to have in retirement. Both were sacrificing to save for it. The one’s early death was a shock to us all but especially my friend because he realized that his sacrificing may be for naught. At that point he decided to live more for today. He didn’t ignore the future but just lowered its priority a lot.
The second friend is in his 60s and is still working. However he is looking forward to the fun he and his family are going to have after he quits work in three or so years. I wondered to myself as he told me his story, are you not having fun in your life today? This brings me to my point: Are we having fun?
Of course we all can’t do only what we like every day. But overall what we are doing should be enjoyable shouldn’t it? Reminds me of a joke I heard. A dentist in his 40s declares – some 17 year old kid decided I’d be a dentist the rest of my life!
Many of us get wrapped up in the day-to-day life which swoops down on us shortly after high school. Some of my friends just decided to get summer jobs at “the mill” to earn some money after graduation. And 20 years later, they were still there in senior jobs. Most just make the best of it all because the money is decent and they’ve acquired families, homes, cars and other responsibilities which keep them tied down.
The question really comes down to this – how can we generate excitement and enthusiasm for our work or home life every day?
I can speak from experienced that if you are doing something you absolutely do not enjoy, generating enthusiasm is very difficult. It drags you down. It affects your attitude in other areas of your life. My only suggestion: change the environment or get something different to do quickly! I have had to teach several subjects that I did not enjoy. Actually worse … subjects that I would not take again in school ever! They were not my bliss so to speak. I’ve since resolved never to teach those subjects again because quite frankly, the kids deserve better than that, don’t you think? Yes they do.
Most of us have some areas in our lives that we do well in. We all have talents. I’ve tried to discover my talents and to find work or play that uses these talents. I like math and physics so I teach. I enjoy music so I play guitar in church. I’ve come to enjoy writing so I write off and on, well like I’m doing now.
How about you? What do you like doing? What are your areas of bliss? Can you fit your talents into your work and home life better that you have been? If you can, I can tell you it will do wonders for your attitude and effectiveness. It sure has mine. Give it some thought. Who knows you may find yourself working into your late 60s because you want to!
Gene Canavan is retired and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA