Do you have a generally positive or negative impression of the word “retirement”?
I ask because it dovetails nicely with a series of questions (inspired by Rick Kahler) that I use to begin most speaking engagements. These questions are designed to incite self-awareness, offering us clues about how our life experiences have shaped the (often unarticulated but powerful) beliefs that unavoidably influence the decisions we make with and for money.
Regardless of an audience’s homogeneity, their responses are consistently inconsistent. I have, however, seen some generational persistency on the topic of retirement. For example, on average, baby boomers have a generally positive view of retirement—no doubt shaped in part by the incessant financial services commercials that promise a utopian post-career existence with beaches, sailboats, golf and an unlimited supply of vintage Pinot Noir.
On the other hand, the finance and accounting students that I had the privilege of teaching at Towson University—almost all members of the Millennial generation—had a generally negative view of the notion of retirement. This is for two prominent reasons:
- They pictured hot, humid, early buffet dinners in rural Florida.
- They don’t think that the American dream of retirement is available to them.
You likely feel as though you don’t have enough time to watch a video that is 17 minutes and 47 seconds, right? But what if watching it allows you to penetrate beneath the scar tissue of busyness and distraction and transform your view of work and the satisfaction you derive from it? Would it be worth it, then?
If you’re willing to watch the video, please feel free to stop reading here, because I’m convinced that, though seemingly out of context, you’ll get the point by the end of the video—the point that there’s a vastly different, far more rewarding way to do what we call “work” than what most of us have been taught and have experienced. It’s the work of an artisan.
But first, a bit on the evolution and etymology of work: What’s the difference between a job and a profession? I ask this question more than you’d think, and the summary response I receive is, “A job is something you have to do while a profession is something you want to do. A job is a necessity—it puts food on the table—while a profession is something that you train for and build over time.”
Fair enough. What, then, is a vocation?
by Jim Stovall
Too many people in the workforce separate their lives into two separate and distinct categories. They compartmentalize their days into the hours of drudgery and clock watching that represents their job and the freedom that exists when they get to their own leisure and recreation time.
People who work five days per week to get two days of a weekend or who work 50 weeks out of the year to get two weeks of vacation are missing the joy and satisfaction that comes from enjoying their work.
Mark Twain said that the secret to success is making your vocation your vacation. Twain knew that enjoying your work will not only make you happier, it will make you successful. If you are in a job or business that you do not enjoy, and you are competing with people who enjoy their work, you are doomed to failure. You may have the talent and skill to succeed, but your competition who enjoys their work will always prevail in the end.
People who enjoy their work are more efficient, creative, and productive. If you find yourself in a job you do not enjoy, it doesn’t mean you have to quit today, but it should indicate that you need to start making some changes in your life that will result in you doing work that you enjoy.
If you are among the unfortunate who do not love your job, you may want to consider the following:
- Are there parts of your work or your job that you do enjoy? Maybe you can focus more on this work and make arrangements to make it a larger part of your job description.
- Are there jobs available within your organization that you feel would give you satisfaction, and you would enjoy doing? If so, you may want to consider a transfer, even if it is a lateral move or step down within the organization.
- Is there a job or profession you have always wanted to pursue? If so, what educational or training steps could you take now to prepare yourself to make the move later?
- If you don’t know what kind of work would make you happy, think of the things you enjoy in your leisure or personal time, and imagine how components of those activities could make up a job or business somewhere in your community.
As you go through your day today, realize that you can never be totally successful within your profession until you enjoy the work that you do.
Today’s the day!