By Caroline MacNeill Hall
I went to the touring show matinee “A Night with Janis Joplin” last Saturday. The show was celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Summer of Love in San Francisco that launched the hippie movement in 1967. The whole audience was 16-28 then and 65-77 now, knew every word to every song, rocked hard for two hours, and left in time for an early supper followed, no doubt, by icing our hips with frozen peas. Anyway, I bonded with the woman next to me as we harmonized loudly on “Take a Little Piece of My Heart.” She was 68, said she’d never retire, and I said “Ditto.” I hear that from a lot of Baby Boomers these days, and I have a suspicion that the reluctance to retire is not about the money.
Here’s how it feels to me. I’m at the top of my game at work and increasingly befuddled in my personal life. I like feeling smart and powerful and useful. I’m not as fond of the me who forgets puzzle clues and my keys and stands by helplessly while half my administrivia balls smash on the ground. I’m not keen to be defined mostly as a granny. So why on earth would I want to stop working when working is where I’m at my best?
Then again, why would I want to work 40+ hours a week when I no longer have to? My 89-year-old investment manager father wishes he had never quit his job, but he left at 5:00 every morning to be at his Denver desk when the market opened in New York and came home after dark. No, not that! I think what he really wanted was to have lots of opportunities to grow people’s money—interspersed with opportunities to play all the great golf courses on the planet, kibbitz more with his pals, and log a bit more grandchild time.
Here’s the point: We need to think through how to redeploy our skill sets in the next chapter of life.
We need to get better at saying no to assignments that aren’t a great fit or aren’t that interesting. We need to design an off-ramp from our organizations that transfers our knowledge and strengthens our legacies. We need to get better at saying yes to assignments and opportunities that challenge us to learn new skills or subject matter along with using what we already have. We need to get better at looking at all the “I wish” items that have traveled from Do List to Do List—sometimes for years!—and do them at last or cross ‘em off. We need to get better at cultivating relationships with more of our dear ones now—instead of putting them off until “I have more time.”
We need to get better at integrating work and life. Much better.
I can’t believe the Summer of Love was a half-century ago and we were folk-dancing to end the bombing in Southeast Asia (instead of sitting for our final exams). Fifty years ago. I could sit on my hair! Well, we’ve all created a lot of structure and mastery since then. And there’s no reason we can’t do the same thing for the next 20 years or so.
Want to create a new structure for using your gifts and expertise? Join us at Life Reinspired, a reset lab for your next chapter of life. Rock on!