Meaningful Work = Meaningful Life
“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.” — Emily Dickinson
Back in October, Lee Eisenberg wrote an article in Money magazine about why you’ll love retirement. As many know, in January, Eisenberg authored the book called, The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life. Here is the excerpt from Publishers Weekly:
“These days, Eisenberg is thinking about retirement, particularly about his Number: the amount of money he’d need to have socked away in order to be confident that his postretirement life would meet his expectations. Everyone’s Number is different, Eisenberg says, and though his book is not an especially useful financial guide, it isn’t really meant as a how-to.”
“Instead, it provides an illuminating and charmingly written consideration of an aging generation’s retirement worries and of the investment business designed to profit from them. Heartfelt discussions of goals, health and health care, ‘downshifting’ to enjoy life while spending less money and the meaning of postretirement life pepper its pages. Financial planners are interviewed, partly to get information about savings and investment, but mostly to explore the meaning of the field and the type of people who practice it.”
In the Money magazine article he finds that, “When it comes to the money part of retirement — the ‘how you’ll pay for it’ part — you have a pretty good grasp of the challenges: the cost of health care, the riddles of a portfolio, the shaky math of Social Security. But there’s another, deeper retirement issue to reckon with — the part about your life.”
“When you have crossed the career finish line, how do you give your spirit a second wind? When you have no job to go to and no kids left in the house, where do you find purpose and satisfaction? What, in other words, have you retired for?”
Why wait to think about this when you retire? These questions about purpose and satisfaction hit us loud and clear everyday when the alarm clock goes off. Jeanine and I spend hours discussing this topic. Usually, it takes place on Sunday night (after the L word has ended), with our heads on the pillow and sleep is the only thing left separating the weekends we adore and the Monday morning work rush.
Sometimes it’s hard to care about happiness in retirement… when the present thought is about satisfaction with the current workday and trying to squeeze in a meaningful life around all the stress and pressure of our jobs. I’m not alone. It was someone else that coined the term: rat race.
So if we are all working towards The Number, then what does that really mean today… about the quality of our life, about fulfillment, about satisfaction. It’s strange, but the questions I struggle with today about meaningful work are the same ones that I struggled with when I was 26. Except now I have a job that offers a little more money and pays for a little more comfort… but there is a growing chasm to that destination called meaning.
Maybe I’ll ramble on more about this topic tomorrow… but today I’m late for work.