I See Work In Your Future

My friend Louise sells long-term care insurance. From time to time we have lunch together and she uses the opportunity to regale me with data I’d rather not think about—things like how much money I’m going to need to retire, how much nursing care costs and how, in my old age my daughters may well have the opportunity to get even with me for the discipline I imposed when they were children.

Last Friday was just such an occasion and, as so often happens, the conversation sparked in me thoughts about how this relates to my work. What do all these depressing statistics have to do with helping others to love their work?

What occurred to me is just how important it is to figure out a way to enjoy our jobs because most of us are going to need to work well into our 70’s. Figuring out what you enjoy and developing a strategy to find a job in which you can indulge it is critical to your overall well being—financial, physical, mental and spiritual.

I can think of few things sadder than to go to work every day only to be counting the seconds until it is over. If you fit this description, I invite you to seriously consider how this is impacting you.

Your highest priority is to figure out how to be happy where you are right now. First take some time to make a list all the things you hate to do. This accomplishes two things: (1) you get it off your chest so you can move on; and (2) you know what to avoid in the future. For example, I hate to do paperwork so you can bet there is no secretarial job in my future.

Next, use the job you have right now as the wonderful opportunity it is for you to identify what you enjoy doing. Do you like putting things in order? That goes on the list. Do you like to plan projects? Again, that goes on the list. Keep your list handy so you can add to it as you make new discoveries and so you can reference it when you are looking for new opportunities.

In my coaching practice, I often work with people who want to make career transitions. Like many of us, these clients ended up in “accidental careers”—they got a job right out of school and in a blink of an eye, twenty years had gone by and they found themselves trapped in an industry they hadn’t consciously chosen. Did that happen to you?

One of my clients is in a financial position to choose carefully what he’s going to do next and yet, it takes a considerable amount of coaching on my part to dissuade him from taking the first position offered in the industry he just left (and hated!)

As we’ve worked together, what has been revealed is that he is a tremendous project manager. He has never held that job title but nonetheless, it is truly his gift. By the way, one way to discover your gift is to respond to the following scenario: think of the last time you were doing something and you completely lost track of time. You looked up from your work and were startled by how much time had gone by. What were you doing?

Do what you can to utilize that gift in your current work or to find work that you can do in the future that will put it to full use.

Maybe it wouldn’t be financially smart to make a change at this point. If there are major retirement benefits that would be sacrificed, that is a huge consideration (just ask my friend Louise!). However, it is NEVER too early to consider what’s next. What career would you have chosen if you had to do it all over again? And why can’t you take steps today to transition into that career when the timing is right? After all, if you’re going to be in your 60’s or 70’s and working, it had better be at something that energizes versus making you more tired.

I’m fortunate to be doing what I want to still be doing when I’m in my 70’s. Take it from me—it’s well worth the struggle for you to do the same.

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