Freedom… from what?

Carla's Call – Monthly contributions continue with this submission from personal coach Carla Marshall

Carla Marshall

Carla Marshall

If there is one concept that puzzles me, it’s retirement. Perhaps it’s just the legacy of growing up in a household of entrepreneurs. Retirement didn’t factor into our family consciousness. Instead, planning business, getting business, and the endless stream of work that followed was the pervasive energy in the home. This, paired with the ups and downs of self-employment in chaotic economic times, undoubtedly informed my parents’ viewpoints on retirement. Stop working? Yes, that happens in between contracts, or in the slow times when there are no contracts.

From childhood, my four siblings and I just understood that you find something you are both good at and enjoy, and then, you find a way to make money doing it. I believe my parents’ idea of retirement back then would have resembled something along the lines of, ‘ You’re telling me I should stop doing what I like to do and get paid to do, and trade it something I might not like that much and I’ll probably have to pay to do? Why?”

As I observe some of my friends, colleagues, and clients anticipating or managing their own retirement, it’s strange to me how in one moment, when the calendar slips one day forward, and the clock hits 5 p.m., we are simply done what we did, and in some cases, with who we thought we were. For the past 20 or 40 odd years we have been teacher, carpenter, engineer, programmer, therapist, machinist, bartender, nurse, lawyer. At 5:01 p.m., do we become “retiree?” And in that moment, who are we?

Still some quarter century away from my own ‘retirement’ I anticipate what it will mean to me, and also, as the baby boomers retire en masse, what retirement will mean to our society. Sure, I get the idea of quitting one’s job for a proposed life of leisure. Though the whole concept of play and relaxation didn’t value that high in my family’s life and work ethic, still, I savour leisure like anyone else. But for me, it’s so pleasurable precisely because it is leisure time, and it has an end. The law of scarcity in action.

At lunch with a colleague recently we discussed her intention to succession plan herself out of the large organization she currently runs. It is a task heavy with emotion and its share of both logistical and psychological challenges. She is leaving a known life for a new horizon she’s not entirely sure she wants to sail into. Skydive into, perhaps. But the “golden years?” Please.

“Sure, we’ll golf and hang out on a warm beach for a year after retirement,” she says, “And then we’ll ask, ‘now what?’” It is precisely the ‘now what’ that interests me about retirement. What exactly will this large demographic who have shaped so much of the society we know, do next? For some reason, I think antiquated versions of retirement will be actively rewritten, and that this generation will be the same trailblazers they have always been.

Marshall & Associates provides human resources plus individual and group development services.For a consultation, or to find out more about their certified coaching services, please call (250) 513-0044.