Your Next Work

June 26th, 2019 by Kelly Kienzle

The Questions

As I consider my next birthday, the 50th one, I begin to indulge in fantasies of what and when my retirement will be.

What will it look like?  How will I find meaning in what I do each day?  How do I approach this period in life that, until now, has only been represented by the savings account which I begrudgingly filled, while denying myself some indulgent weekend get-away?

Considering the Future While Being in the Present

No matter how many or few more miles we have to go before our retirement appears on the horizon, we can begin now to shape our lives towards what this next work could be.  And we can shape it now for the benefit of our future and of our present.  Because to focus solely on the future is to miss out on the present.

But how?  How can we possibly begin to prepare for a phase in life like no other?  A phase which has no specific objectives, success measures or even a schedule.

Never “Retire”, Always Live

The answer might lie in what Pablo Casals described as never truly retiring.  He said: “Work helps prevent one from getting old. To “retire” means to me to begin to die. The [wo/]man who works and is never bored is never old.”

What would this mean to you?  What would you be doing if you were to continue to work in retirement, yet neverwork a day in your retirement?  How would you know you were happy?  What would fulfill you?

But perhaps you think I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  After all, the college tuition bills that will soon land in our family mailbox will bring with them a certainty that I have at least 10 more years of work.  Perhaps you do too.  So why think about retirement now?

Moving Closer to What We Want

Because if I had to find a pattern to the mostly unplanned wandering of my career path, I would say that each role has brought me closer and closer to doing what I truly enjoy.

With coaching now, I could envision continuing this work without end.  Yet I could also envision honing and streamlining my work to get closer still to what I truly enjoy until I have whittled it down to the core elements that bring me joy.  Perhaps it is the whittling and the embellishing that would give us joy.

What about you?  What would you add to your work to bring you more happiness and reward?   What would you put aside?  Each year that we move through our careers, we can continue to shape our work more towards doing what we truly enjoy.

Mindful Movement

This mindfulness of slowly yet steadily moving in the direction of what fulfills us is what builds our hopes for the future.  And it keeps us mindful of what makes us happy in the present.

We can heed the words from people as diverse as Kid President: “Life is not a dress rehearsal, people!”  to Mary Oliver: “So, tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  And begin our Next Work, now.

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