Field hockey was for many years my sport. I played at the top level, trained hard and enjoyed the battle of mind and body. As I got older I started to feel the pressures, the harsh training and the fitness demands. I didn't want to quit though, so I moved to playing in the Veteran Grades.
I still played to win and enjoyed using my talents and street-wise skills to beat my opponent. Instead of pushing my body to the limits, I used cunning. I didn't chase the play but anticipated its direction and 'drifted' into position. I continued enjoying the game for many more years. In many ways, playing veterans hockey was more satisfying because all the good elements of sport come to the fore, with less of the unsavory aspects.
Life's a bit like that.
You are no doubt proud of the fact that you are 'at the top of your game'. You have worked hard all your adult life, taken the big risks, accepted the challenges and relished the rewards of going the extra mile. You have earned your success. You want to keep 'playing the game' as long as you can, so long as you can continue to enjoy the reasons why you play.
The economic benefits have of course always been a prime reason for working but also there are many emotional benefits. These can include developing and maintaining strong links with like-minded people, being respected, recognized and valued by your peers, enjoying an enviable professional status, with high social standing. These have generated high self esteem, self confidence, self belief and your sense of self worth.
Perhaps you will continue to get economic benefits from working but the emotional benefits are going to become increasingly important in your life. In fact it's the fear of losing the emotional benefits of work that will concern you than any reduction in the economic benefits. The fact that work-generated self esteem flows through into personal life adds to those fears.
Yet, for all of this, you know there needs to be more to valuing the rest of your life than just through work. Perhaps there are other things you want to do, interests you have had on the backburner and pleasures you want to experience while you are young enough to still enjoy them.
The good news is that, being a baby boomer, you are especially well-placed to deal with this issue. Your generation has thrived on creating social change, accepting challenges and discovering different ways of doing things. They decided there is more to life than simply fading away from age 60 onwards. You feel as good as ever, your mind is still active and alert and you look forward to many more years of healthy, active living. You still enjoy the thrill of the chase and the sniff of corporate battle. You would like to continue enjoying the mental and emotional benefits of your long experience, your street-wise cunning and your zest for challenges.
It's time to start a new lifecycle, seeing yourself less as a Baby Boomer and more as a Baby Bloomer.
What should you do? I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to advise you on how best to resolve your unique personal situation. But I can give you a few practical considerations to bear in mind:
- Stay in control. This is a stage of life where you are deciding what you want to do, instead of what you have to do. Employers may have the right to decide whether or not you get to keep your job but you are totally in charge of the decisions you make about your future.
- Look at my earlier examples of the emotional benefits of working and make up your own list. Write down every emotional (not financial) reason you can think of about why you work. Your partner or others close to you can probably help you build your list. You will come to recognize that these benefits don't just drive your work, they drive your life. It's vital to be always pursuing interests - paid or unpaid, physical, mental or spiritual - that generate these life-giving benefits.
- Use this article as a discussion paper to talk through the whole issue with the your partner and any other person whose life is going to be directly affected by your decisions and with whom you are going to share the rest of your days. This is more than a consideration...it is crucially important advice.
- Follow your passions. You probably know your work-related passions all too well but what about other passions in your life? Chances are you haven't given them much attention for many years while you concentrate on work and providing for your family. Now more than ever in your life you need to think about yourself, your passions and your unique dreams in life.
- Think about mentoring others in the work you have been doing. Don't let all that experience and knowledge you've gathered over your working career die with you. Future generations desperately need the benefit of your unique and priceless wisdom and insight.
- The word recreation actually means a great deal more than simply having fun or filling in time. Drop the re and you have the word creation. Think about ways in which you passionately enjoy creatively expressing your inner self, the person you really are and whom only you know really well.
- You still have unique untapped potential. Once you have decided that your priority is to follow your passions, you can create a new, positive, satisfactory and passionate lifestyle, irrespective of the extent to which you continue being paid to work. No matter how passionate you have been about your work, you may well be embarking now on the best years of your life.
Click here and watch my YouTube presentation of "The Invisible Me". It powerfully brings you back in touch with the real you that only you know.