I’ve been pondering the meaning of life and work lately. It’s not my fault; baseball season is over. (Go Nationals! Baby Shark!) I read an interesting article in the paper today about the need to re-thing the structure of life. You know the routine: education, work/family, retirement. But as we know, it can get more complicated than that. In fact, it can get quite complex, with many twists and turns we cannot anticipate, but can only experience. Still, having a direction can help, even if you don’t end up where you thought.
I’m 60. I’m in good health and I work full-time, as I have since I was 18. I’m busy preparing for my “third act.” My first was the military, and I retired in my mid-30s. My second act was in both the private and public sectors, working for a variety of businesses and organizations. Now it is time for the third, which is a blended practice, working as an independent consultant as well as a strategic partner with a company or two and university teaching as an adjunct.
In preparing for this transition, I went back to school and earned a second doctorate, focusing on what I wanted to do professionally and academically. I was 56 when I graduated. The second doctorate will have no effect on my career prospects, but what I learned, did, and researched will.
I also went out and earned three professional certifications relevant to the work I will be doing. Leveraging more than 4 decades of experience, I did those in the last few years.
I no longer want a job with a company. No more career paths, ambitions, and upward mobility. Instead, I want to develop opportunities to offer the best I have to give. I want to blend that into the rest of my life so that I evolve from “work/life balance” to a blended life, where both elements have become one. I want to continue to develop personally and professionally, establishing and maintaining my own identity, not the one my employer supplies.
I’ve considered the alternative: working and leaning towards the tape at then end of the race. And I could probably do it financially. But it is not who I am anymore, and it does not support who I want to become.
I don’t know where I’m going, not exactly. But I do know I’m on my way. As they say at the bar at closing time, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”