In the 50’s, a person’s career was established (and halfway over) at 40 years old. Now, many of us have had 5 careers/endeavors/identities by the time we read this blog. It’s also natural to wonder if you can do whatever you do — for ten more years, twenty more years — and do you want to / need to — and if not — then what? The “then what” used to concern me — but I find myself sort of excited about it lately.
The defining question I asked myself when I read Peggy’s book was, can I do, or do I want to do, what I do… forever? Or, could I still do my work, in a different way, and venture into something totally new?
Some questions…and by the way, none of these are more virtuous than any others:
Do you consider your work a phase of your life that will one day stop? (Hello retirement and cruises! Safari’s! Matching tracksuits! Canasta!)
Do you consider your work just one expression of a thing that you do that could be applied to other mediums, industries, circumstances or people? (Graphic designer to painter, copywriter to novelist, entrepreneur to volunteer board member.)
Do you consider your work a single chapter in your life that when finished, will open the door to a new one? (Sell a company, start a radically different one. Close a company, read all the books you didn’t have time for and become a professional volunteer.)
Aging feels like another opportunity to explore something — to impact people — to express yourself. And maybe you’re someone who wants to keep doing what you’ve been doing as long as you possibly can. But let’s think about it, not just dread it or react to it. Let’s financially plan for it, set ourselves up to make those years interesting and intentional, so you can become a medical assistant to a midwife in rural Africa if that’s what you’ve wanted to do your whole life.
I love thinking about Peggy, in her cottage in Martha’s Vineyard, culling thoughts from her day to be captured on paper.
Here’s to our own versions of 65, 75…105. And, at least for me, continuing to write while learning Canasta — with winters spent in South America doing I — don’t — know —what, but humanitarian work in some non-advertising-oriented way, where no one has heard of the word “brand” — and no one cares.
And, here’s to left turns — anytime you want to take one.