Over the weeks leading up to Christmas, just like many of you I’ve had the chance to reconnect with colleagues and friends from many different chapters of my life. I’m at the age where many of my friends are retiring so, inevitably, the question comes up, “When are you going to slow down?” Of course, this isn’t a new question for me – as I’ve been facilitating retirement readiness workshops over the past 20 years or so, I’ve reflected on my own retirement readiness as I’ve walked along that path with my clients.
Ironically, this may be the downside of “career engagement.” I’ve been blessed with the flexibility to choose the work that interests me, to set my own schedule, and to hire others to do the work that frees me up to do more of what I love. My career is at the stage where very interesting projects come my way – for example, in 2016 I had the opportunity to work on two different projects in Saudi Arabia, both closely tied to my passion for supporting career development and training career development practitioners. From the perspective of the Career Engagement model, my challenges are nicely aligned with my capacity (most days) so it’s more appealing to say “yes” than to say “no.”
I’ve often reflected on the stories of lottery winners who say that the first thing they’ll do is quit their jobs. How sad that they haven’t previously found work that would be more appealing to them! For many of us (and I include myself in this), we would be quite happy to work less. Work tends to beget more work (just like emails seem to multiply as quickly as you hit “reply”). However, the right work, “engaging” work, is not that easy to walk away from. Many of my colleagues and mentors have had productive and inspiring careers decades after the typical age of retirement.
Career engagement is about “life” engagement. Most of the folks I know who have left work successfully have replaced it with something else that is challenging and aligned with their capacity. If interesting work were to stop coming my way I have no doubt that I’d still be fully engaged – there are so many things that I’d love to have more time to do. However, for now, I’m still very engaged in my career and have several interesting new projects to work on in the months ahead, as well as a couple of very intriguing opportunities to consider. Looking ahead to 2017, that’s my wish for you as well – to ensure that the level of challenge in your work is nicely aligned to the personal and organizational resources that you have available. That’s what career engagement is all about!