Given the volatility of our world today and longer life expectancies, the stark reality is that, for many of us, we may have to work for far more years than originally planned. Putting financials aside, there are many other upsides to working longer into our years. The activity, social interaction and sense of identity that our job provides all benefit our physical and mental health.
So is the idea of prolonging our work life really that horrific? Imagine that you’re doing meaningful work that you enjoy; and in a way that enables you to have the lifestyle you want. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad.
Therein lies the key challenge. Finding something you love that you can imagine doing for the rest of your life….or at least for the next 15-20 years. Possible? Yes. Probable? You won’t know unless you try.
Think of the people you meet who say they can’t imagine not working. And most likely they’re also the ones who truly seem to enjoy what they do and get tremendous meaning and fulfilment from it. So were they just lucky to have stumbled upon the right career, or did they make informed and conscious choices along the way? From my experience, the latter.
Many of us will reach a point in our career where we begin to wonder if this is what we want to be doing for the next 10, 15, 20 years. It could be because you’ve achieved your career goals. Or perhaps your current role is not as satisfying as you’d imagined it to be, despite its illustrious title. A confronting truth for anyone and especially if you’ve just spent a good part of your adult life climbing up that corporate ladder.
Regardless of what brought you to ‘that’ point, it’s now up to you to plan your second act. Your Next Chapter. And it starts with absolute clarity about what you want for yourself. That includes acknowledging what kind of work is most meaningful and satisfying to you, knowing how best to leverage your innate strengths and being creative to figure out how to get paid for it. And just as importantly, being clear about what you do not want for the next chapter of your career.
Dig deep. Be honest with yourself. Find your way to work you love that is most satisfying to you. And the prospect of having to work a few more years than you had imagined may not be that terrifying after all.
“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do” – Oprah Winfrey