I read a wonderful article in Newsweek the other day — "More Senior Americans Are Working Past Retirement, Willingly" (link). There was a powerful quote from Dr. Leonard Bailey, a 74 year-old heart surgeon who still puts in 80-90 hour weeks and has no plans to retire, "There’s no reason to stop. If you’re constantly thinking new thoughts and dealing with new problems, it refreshes your brain cells and makes new connections."
I LOVE IT. That's the way I am. Even my Dad, who retired after 40+ years working for Electrolux, was asked back by management to keep working because they couldn't find a replacement who knew his job. So he worked an additional 10 years (7 AM-12 Noon) and deftly stayed out of my Mom's hair.
Let's break Dr. Bailey's quote down to not only understand it, but to apply it to our own lives:
"There’s no reason to stop."
There really isn't. Retirement is a societally imposed situation that rips out a major part of our life. Work is a part of our life, our personality, our being and it contributes to the 'adequacy' of our being. I constantly tell clients — you generally sleep 8 hours, you work 8 hours, and you spend 8 hours on personal time. Work is a big part of your life for many, many years. Why stop?
I'm not saying keep putting in 80-90 hours per week, but you can power-down slowly. Ask to only work 4-day weeks and reduce your pay accordingly. Then 3-day weeks. Then 2-day weeks. You get the picture.
"If you’re constantly thinking new thoughts and dealing with new problems"
When was the last time you really sat down and brainstormed about your career or business? Really separated yourself and 'thought new thoughts' about your situation, your position, your industry, your client base and all the people around you?
When was the last time you stopped thinking about your 'problems' and started addressing them as 'challenges'? Carlos Casteneda said, "The difference between a warrior and an ordinary man is that a warrior sees everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man sees everything as either a blessing or a curse." Start being that warrior in life.
"It refreshes your brain cells and makes new connections"
If you keep the flow of new ideas, new challenges, new people, and new activities in your life, it will refresh your brain and make new connections. If you exercise the muscle — it will get stronger.
Keep working, keep meeting new people, keep stretching your comfort zone, keep learning, and most of all keep making it happen.