Most people cannot project with much clarity or certainty what their future is going to be like without work, without a job, although many dream of that day. The big exception is people who through no fault of theirs, lose their job. Some make it, some don’t, but that is not what this is about. Nor is this about retirement planning, or taking up new hobbies, or making a transition from where you are to where you want to be. So what is it about?
This blog was occasioned by a dear friend and colleague who recently published a newsletter with the theme, “The Future of Work.” The three brief articles in that newsletter, available here (www.tinyurl.com/kjlxpus) are brilliant in their insight and understanding about some of the critical issues in education and what we are or are not doing to prepare kids for the world outside of schools. I think the authors go beyond the confines of school and touch nicely on the world of work in much bigger terms.
I have an advantageous perspective that follows 50 years of full time working, work that I loved, work that was challenging, fulfilling and rewarding. There is a future beyond work that can be whatever you want it to be, wherever you want it to be and with those who are important to you in these so-called later years. Do you believe that? If you do, then you’re halfway there. If you don’t, you may want to shift gears.
When I was working, I often asked the question of seminar participants what they would do if they did not have to work to earn a living. Actually there were already a few in that category. That exercise is revealing in many ways. My first answer, some years ago, was that I would do exactly what I was doing except for one thing. I would travel more often and always first-class. I guess that’s two things! The point was if you wanted to do something other than what you were doing, were you doing anything to either change or prepare for that?
My response to one of the articles in the newsletter, you can figure out which one if you read them, was that when I look at my calendar and my schedule for the week and month ahead, it is, by design, mostly blank. That is partly because I don’t write everything down and mostly because I have the freedom to choose how I will spend whatever time is given to me whether today, tomorrow, next week or next month. Or, even next year.
I can tell you what I am doing, what we are planning, and what a luxury not working is because of this gift of time. I don’t know anyone who comes to the end and says, “Gee, I wish I had worked longer.” The future beyond work is full of wonder, choices, freedom, and it’s an amazing experience. It is both a blessing and a gift and I am enormously grateful for both.