Deferring Career Happiness
Are you deferring career happiness until you reach financial independence, paying off the mortgage, you become “empty nesters” or some other milestone in life? If that is the case, what are you deferring may never happen.
My buddy Roger Whitney of the Retirement Answerman podcast uses the term life maximization. We learn to maximize our finances so we can save for future happiness or joy but what happens if that future never happens? You save all this money for what?
You may be wondering why I am pontificating on this topic at this time. I interviewed Gene Snider on the Repurpose Your Career podcast episode #184. Gene, who is a member of the Career Pivot membership community, had started a business consulting with small business owners, primarily small construction firms to help them grow their business. He used bookkeeping as an entry point. Listen to the episode and you will hear how much fun he was having.
Gene suddenly passed away suddenly on August 8th of 2020 after a very short illness at the age of 71.
Pursuing Career Happiness
Gene had a great career in the mining industry. He liked to say he spent much of his career blowing things up in Mexico, Central, and South America. Gene retired with his wife, who is Bolivian, a few years ago. Gene had a health condition that required him to come back to the US for treatment. Once he recovered, he discovered he really did not like retirement.
Gene and his wife split their time between Houston and Bolivia and he wanted to do something meaningful with his wife. He started EAGLE Managerial Bookkeeping.
In belonging to the Career Pivot community, he pursued sales and marketing education, building a sales funnel and marketing processes. He was even writing a book with another community member Russ Eanes. Russ helps aspiring authors write and publish books. You can hear more about Russ in the podcast episode Russ Eanes Turns the Walk of a Lifetime into a Writing and Consulting Career #143 [Podcast]. Gene had grown so much and had big plans for the future when life came to an end.
Gene did not defer career happiness but what he was demonstrating was to live life to it’s fullest NOW.
What are you deferring?
Predicting a Future that Will not Happen
In 1999, I was working for IBM when the company converted many of us from a defined benefit plan to a cash balance plan. They then converted many of us back to the defined benefit plan as they realized that this was age discrimination. I still remember the discussion with a former manager who said, they took it away once and gave it back to us. They cannot do it again. My response was yes they can and they will.
IBM discontinued funding the defined benefit pension plan in 2008.
I left IBM in January of 2000 when I was 8.5 years from full retirement and took the money and ran. I was pretty unhappy with IBM and decided it was not worth hanging around for 8.5 years for something that might not be there.
The gentleman who replaced me was better at the job than I was but nevertheless, he was laid off in 2004.
I decided to pursue career happiness rather than defer for something that might not be there in the future.
Sometimes we defer and defer and defer because we do not think we are ready. Then our health gets in the way as it did for Gene.
My buddy Roger Whitney has been doing a series call Retirement Plan Live on the Retirement Answerman podcast. In 2019, he took Emma and Luca, not their real names through the process. Roger wrote in his show notes
Emma and Luca have been married for 40 years. She is turning 65 soon and he is 66. They envisioned their retirement to be a combination of work with a bit of flexibility. Travel was a big part of their retirement plans. They enjoy camping and are avid cyclists. Luca is a bit of a workhorse and could never imagine stopping work completely. They are good savers and their ideal retirement didn’t seem too far-fetched. But then one day Luca got sick.
Luca has always been very healthy and was never one for doctors’ visits. But after he got sick and became jaundiced Emma convinced him it was time to see a doctor. Pancreatic cancer was the diagnosis. They didn’t realize it but their retirement plans changed overnight. With his illness surgery and extensive chemotherapy would be necessary. And even if all went well there is still only a 10% 5-year survival rate. It took them both a while to realize that things would never be the same and their retirement plans would need to change drastically.
Emma and Luca had not planned for this. The deferred a better life that never happened. They did not pursue life maximization but financial maximization.
Investment in your Health
The biggest investment you can make into your future career happiness is to make an investment into your health. I wrote about this in my blog post Investments in Your Health in the 2nd Half of Life.
When I got the text from Gene’s wife last week that he had passed on, it really shook me up. It shook a lot of using the Career Pivot community.
Gene gave so much of himself in his time, experience, and expertise. He touched a lot of us.
Taking the Leap
What Gene’s passing got me thinking about how we defer until some milestone has been met. Often when we reach that milestone we think well that is not enough and we set a new milestone to reach.
Sometimes you just have to take the leap for both life and career happiness. Gene was good at taking that leap.
I have been blessed that I have made that leap many times. It has not always worked out but I always recovered. In the end, I was happy I took the leap every time.
What is stopping you from taking the leap and pursuing career happiness?Marc Miller
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Chris Stadler says
Very thought-provoking article about what many of us probably defer most — making the most out of the time we have left. As somewhat of a “student of aging,” I am learning more and more about why many of us Olders might be in the deferment mode. Boomers were conditioned to be work-oriented and to pursue upward mobility in their careers. Many of us did this to the detriment of family and other important relationships. Some of us also postponed having fun or regular leisure. We always assumed we’d have time to pursue other interests, hobbies or to simply explore things we’ve always been curious about. Stories like Gene’s are sadly all to common. My condolences to all those in the Career Pivot community who knew Gene.