Our Choices Spread Jobs Around


Of late, my wife and I have been actively looking at where and how we want to live  from now until retirement and then hopefully long into that next stage. There are a lot of tradespeople and others who will ultimately gain or lose work based on what we decide. Ever thought about that yourself?

So we live in a bungaloft; a home with a main floor, finished basement and a second storey that overlooks the living room on the main floor. Outside we’ve got many floral gardens; 95% of which are filled with perennials; so there’s less work than it looks at this stage as the bulk of the work is done. The folks at garden centres have a lot of our money!

The thing is, we can’t at the moment, decide on what to do between the choices we’ve presented to ourselves. We could:

  1. Stay put and do some renovating to make a really nice home even better
  2. Move to some property with a great view, and a house that ticks off all the things on our ‘dream’ list
  3. Buy a lot and have a home built from scratch just the way we want it
  4. Move to a smaller place; like a condo and buy a recreation vehicle and travel weekends and on our vacations

Now I’m not just sharing our discussions for the purpose of garnering ‘likes’ such as one would on FB. No, I’m sharing because there are a lot of working people who will make money or lose opportunities based on whatever we decide. And who knows; there could be more options yet that come to light.

There’s the RV sales people; and if you’ve not been inside some campers and trailers for years, you should think about taking in such a show. Things have come a long way in comfort and options. Bigger isn’t always better, but it sure is nice to have some comforts when you’re coming in after a day on the trails, white water rafting or having been out doing pretty much anything active. Yes the RV sales people will be happy to know that we’re potentially in the market – again.

Now we’ve moved 8 times if you include the first three years of our marriage where we were in 3 apartments in the first 3 years. 5 different houses representing 10 real estate commissions, 10 lawyer’s fees, 3 home inspectors and way too many people in administrative roles to count giving buyers and sellers approval for this and that. In the last house, we stood and watched it go up right from the foundation. So many builders! There’s the tradespeople; the carpet layer, the hardwood installer, the trim team, the counter top manufacturer’s, the roofers, the framers, the dry waller’s, the landscapers who brought in the armour stone and made the waterfall, the plumbers, electricians, asphalt team, city inspector, gas, hydro, cable and water installers, the people delivering turf. Forgot to mention the heavy equipment operators, window installers and manufacturer’s, and of course all the people who produce and sell all the contents from lighting and bathroom fixtures to painters and HVAC people. Then too there’s the movers who transport all the ‘stuff’ from one house to another. So many people!

That’s a lot of jobs for a lot of people and we’re only one couple. When the housing industry is booming, it’s not hard to see that for every time you pass a new development going up, a lot of people are benefitting from the work created.

And what of that RV? There are owners of campgrounds hoping we’ll be among the many who frequent their sites. There’s the gas station employees and owners who hope we’re on the road, the people who build, sell and install the appliances contained within. Then there’s plumbers, electricians, framers, again. There are folks on automotive assembly lines who work at construction, engine installation, wiring, lighting and depending on the model, even the kitchen sink and toilet!

Then we’ve got to find a place to store the vehicle perhaps, for if we stay put, that new RV can’t stay in the driveway. Nope, by-laws forbid that. So someone makes money storing and maybe winterizing that RV.

I see a lot of Mitchell money going out. Oh, and to pull it unless it’s self-driven? Yep, that’s one of our cars to sell and replace with a vehicle with better towing capacity. I just keep thinking of all the people happy to take my money; our money. Oh well, it is only money. Right? Then again, I’m about 7 years (give or take) from retiring and then the money coming in drops. That bears thinking about.

That we’re in this thought process isn’t the thrust of the piece, but a look at who in the world of work will be affected and receive income/work from our choices. Say, what if we stayed put and just did some traveling of a different sort? Then the people taking our money might be airlines, hotel owners, restauranteurs, theatre owners, valets, RV rental agents, train operators, etc. What about all the souvenir creators and vendors relying on us, the servers, hotel staff, bed and breakfast operators and tour guides? What of the amusement operators – why even the road crews who pave the roads we’ll drive on?

There are a lot of people potentially taking our money. Stay tuned contractors, agents, builders, vendors, assembly line workers, …

Are You Contemplating A Leap?


Something interesting suddenly struck me recently and I wonder if you too have had a similar experience; possibly like me, you weren’t entirely aware of it yourself. Or it could be that I’m just realizing it myself and slow getting to the dance!

What I’ve become aware of is a large number of the conversations I’ve been a part of, and the musings I’ve read of others centers on men and women in their late 40’s and early to mid-50’s who are openly contemplating exactly what to do with the balance of their working lives. Now in retrospect it may not be a new phenomenon.

The difference I suppose is that historically there were fewer types of jobs to choose from in the past. With fewer choices available, most people who hadn’t reached retirement had a choice between the jobs they currently had and doing a similar job for another company or becoming an entrepreneur themselves. Most you understand stayed with companies for decades and it was the norm to retire from these employers.

Fast-forward to 2016 and there are more jobs being created than ever before. Technology alone as a single sector has created job titles that didn’t exist just a few months before. Go back a generation and there are even more jobs that didn’t exist because the environment was different. There were no Information Technology jobs because the technology hadn’t evolved to the state it is today, and home computers didn’t even exist.

The consequence of more types of jobs existing today is that there are more choices than ever from which to choose. Add to this that because we are living longer than in the past on average, we have more time to spend in retirement, and we may want to work longer in life to both pay for a longer retirement with less income, or just keep involved longer in our work lives.

Whatever the reason, my sense is that these conversations people are having about exploring employment or work options into their 50’s and 60’s  when they’re in their late 40’s to mid-50’s is becoming more popular. It’s not that people are always disenchanted with their current jobs and have lost interest; although I know of some who would say that is exactly their issue. For some, it’s a desire to do something different; a last chance perhaps to do something they’ve always wanted to do or they finally feel a now-or-never mentality.

Now when they arrive at this point of their lives where there is an urge to explore options, the options available largely are confined to whatever skills and experience the person has in their life inventory. Those of us who have worked in a single sector all our lives may on the one hand have less choices available than those of us who have worked in positions across several sectors. Those who have continued in their adult lives with upgrading their education may be more attractive than those who haven’t to potential employers.

Let’s also say that there are some people who are just more comfortable taking risks than others as well. If you have a conservative nature you may think the person quitting a stable, well paid position for some new venture is foolish, off their rocker, gambling with their retirement savings. On the other hand the person who leaps may be feeling they’ll die on the inside and live with regret wondering, “what if” throughout their retirement if they don’t find the courage to jump into something new and invigorating, mentally stimulating.

This isn’t where I’ll wade in on what is right or wrong – that’s for those individuals to contemplate and arrive at decisions they literally have to live with moving forward.

I do think as I say that the quiet musings or open discussions are just becoming more prevalent of late with the people in my network. Is it a restlessness of spirit perhaps; normal checks and balances that happen throughout our lives and nothing more? I suppose one might say that generally our teen years are about setting us up for emerging independence from our parents. Our 20’s are for exploring people, the world and ourselves, our 30’s are for establishing our futures, taking on responsibilities, finding roots to hold onto. Our 40’s enrich our lives and we reach our potential. Our 50’s we start looking at our work lives and see for the first time a window that’s just starting to close. In our 60’s we have far less compunction to re-invent ourselves and start anew; less willingness to gamble the nest egg. I don’t necessarily believe this work-related timeline is the absolute way it is for everyone.    

I’d love to have you weigh in and comment on where you are in your life at the moment and what musings – quiet or otherwise you are mulling over. Is there something stirring in your consciousness and if so, what’s driving those thoughts for something else? Are you afraid, excited or confused about the growing state of flux in which you find yourself more often these days? What considerations do you have to take to change?

Change can be liberating, threatening, give you your sanity back, put a smile on your face, fill your retirement with memories or empty your bank account. If you continue the course you’re on, will you be okay with the choice you’ve settled on?

Older Workers And Legacy Projects


Have you got an employee on your team nearing retirement who strikes you as stagnant? An individual that appears to be just playing out their remaining days, isn’t contributing the way you feel they should; someone who isn’t truly invested in their work? Well that certainly is a problem, but perhaps for reasons you might not suspect.

For starters, it’s essential to note that if that person has been in your organization for a long time, it is likely that there was a time when they were more productive than they appear today. Now while that productivity has dropped off, they still have cumulative experience, expertise and wisdom that could and should be accessed and tapped into before they retire and take it with them.

In order for an organization and its employees to benefit from this individual moving forward, why not give them a legacy project? A legacy project as I term it, is shifting their focus slightly; adding to their days some time to produce something that will stay behind when they leave that could be valuable in their absence.

I think one of the key things to understand with an older more mature worker, is that they themselves experience shifts in their working environment and for many, they perhaps come to a time when they feel less valued and appreciated. Younger workers, perhaps in their 30’s – early 50’s, have more vitality, more energy and this manifests itself through innovation and creativity; looking at doing things differently and better. That of course is a natural process for people to undertake, but the older worker who doesn’t feel that same desire to learn and apply new ways of doing things may still be holding on to ‘the old ways’. The old ways as it turns out, may be the very things they themselves introduced as new once upon a time. It’s this ownership of what is being left behind that may make them feel less appreciated and undervalued.

If your workplace is ripe with people happy to transition from what was good once to something new that is better, it’s not universally easy for everyone to shift their perspective and ‘get on board’ with the new processes. Some employees – both young and old – might need more support and encouragement to learn new systems, software, procedures or practices.

It may not be that the older worker nearing retirement is stubborn; it could be that because they feel their years of experience and skills are not being acknowledged, they are in some way carrying forth a bitterness that causes them to resist what they perceive as yet another step away from what they know. When people are forced to transition to something new and they don’t have the self-motivation to move in that direction, they can experience resentment. This resentment might end up being directed at the people driving the change; as if it is they who are threatening their way of doing things.

It’s the older worker who may have written the employee manuals, workshop materials, orientation packages, production guides of the past. When someone else is designated to re-write these publications, or worse yet, volunteers to re-write these publications, this initiative can be misread as not respecting the previous ones and the people who produced them; i.e. the older worker who lately seems to have an attitude problem, is resistant to learning, fights change at every step, and appears locked in the past.

A legacy project may be the one thing that this older worker may be uniquely qualified to do above everyone else because they have been there as all along the way as change occurred and things evolved. So that the former ways don’t get lost when they leave, it may be useful to record the past so that it becomes a documented treasure. This kind of project acknowledges their past as being something of value, and gives them a purpose in the present of value.

Now not all older workers nearing retirement experience this resistance to change or a drop in productivity. We must be fair however and agree however that there are some workers who are not as open to change as they once were. These people might feel their opinions are not valued as much as they should be; their ideas aren’t listened to with respect the way they feel they should be, and this can lead to disharmony in the workplace. To do nothing, to brand the person as a problem or a stick in the mud, might be the wrong approach.

Another idea might be to encourage that individual to produce something new as an update of what they produced in the past themselves. This could require some research, including technological changes that have come about since the previous document or program was created. This combining of the old with the new both acknowledges the contribution they could uniquely make and still requires them to be knowledgeable about present trends, best practices etc.

When was the last time you told the older worker they were a valuable member of your team? And should you yourself be the older worker feeling less appreciated, when was the last time you told someone driving the change that you appreciate their desire to make things better – as you once did yourself?

There’s tremendous value locked in the memories and experiences of senior staff; value that shouldn’t leave an organization when they do.

Old Age: Barrier To Employment?


When you are twenty-six but look nineteen, your youthful looks can be a detriment to finding meaningful employment. Oh sure it becomes relatively easy to get some entry-level jobs, but the real career jobs are harder to come by because few take you seriously believing you too young to grasp the responsibilities.

At the other end of the employment spectrum, there are people who wish they looked to others to be in their late forties instead of being in their mid-fifties. Feeling that they are being dismissed because of their greying hair, these people often need employment and all it means. But if we are to believe many reports, we’ve got an aging population upon us whom over the next five-year period will represent a rather large majority of the overall population.

Now all those older people in their sixties are either not working nor interested, working still and about to retire in their near future, or be out of work and looking for employment. I have found in the last two years a most curious thing in that people younger than me are listing old age as a personal barrier to employment. Really? Does hitting a specific birthday define one as old, or does it really come down to both self-perception and how others perceive us?

Now me personally at 55 years old, I’m don’t find myself thinking about age a great deal. I guess it’s because I’m working and – no wait – it’s about HOW I’m going about working. You see I could do what the younger generations are stereotyping older workers of doing; slowing down, getting in a rut, playing out the string, talking of retirement that’s still years away for me, but I don’t.

You see, I’m one of the older people on my team at work. However, I’m extremely creative and always looking for different ways to communicate job searching tips and tools to clients. I’m the one called upon by others to write-up teaching manuals and hand-outs. I’m the one who is often putting in the extra effort with clients not just to make a resume for example, but to make a resume that is rich and stands out. My attendance is either perfect in the case of last year, or I’ve missed a single day which is good enough to win an excellent attendance award which I’ve done for the last seven years or so. I hardly have the health concerns then that younger people think the older workers have.

And that’s at the crux of this whole age issue; whitewashing an entire population where every individual must have the characteristics of the majority in that group. It’s saying that all workers near their sixties are in bad health, work slower, don’t pick up technology quickly and take afternoon naps at work. And this is about as accurate as saying all Human Resource Department people in their thirties and forties are prejudiced against hiring older workers; neither are truisms.

I do believe one thing most vehemently however and that is if you yourself buy in to feeling old and discriminated against because of it, you will be thought of that way by others too. After all, if you feel your age is a barrier to employment it’s easier to agree with you then it is to change your opinion by pointing out reasons you’re not. And to be honest, I often think that when an older person starts feeling discriminated against because of their age, perhaps that is because when they themselves were 20 years younger, they too had prejudicial opinions about older workers but have become one!

First and foremost I encourage you as an chronologically older person to think about what you have control over. You may not be able to control the number of candles on the cake, but you can re-master much. For starters walk with purpose instead of sauntering. People who walk with purpose and some jump in their steps ooze energy. Don’t move as if you are trying not to disturb the cobwebs between your legs. You can also control your hair style and colour.

When you talk to people; co-workers, employers, interviewers, recruiters or employment advisors, sound energetic. Be enthusiastic, smile, shake hands with some strength. You’ve probably had many years of experience so you should be able to relate much of that experience to the jobs you are going for now. If you are changing careers because the work you performed was too physical to do now, you should still be able to identify and promote the transferable skills you have.

You are in a better place to promote yourself for good or ill than anyone else. And so if like I say, you believe you are over the hill, why would you expect others to see you any differently? If you challenge others perceptions of being an older person by how you act and what you are capable of in addition to what you say, then you have a good chance of being perceived as still capable of making a valuable contribution.

You may have only so many years of employment left to go, but you can still market yourself to your advantage. Be positive, act confident, be friendly, take pride in your appearance, get active, be visible and network. Finding or keeping employment is a full-time job no matter your age. Like Ringo Starr sang, “It don’t come easy!”

Calling It A Career


When is the right time to call it a career and retire? In the world of sports, where an athlete’s career is up for public scrutiny, it’s usually time to pack it in when you can no longer produce desired results, and you cease to become competitively relevant. Should this be the model for the rest of us?

One of the great things about being a widely known professional athlete is that you get all the public glorification and accolades when you don a sweater, take your spot on a court, or pick up your equipment. However, when commentators are openly thrusting recorders in your face and asking if this is your last season or game, you can’t help but wonder about finishing it all and exploring what’s next.

The majority of us don’t have jobs or careers that thrust us into such light. I suspect that if those high paid athletes only made the salaries that compare to the regular folk, they too might be hanging around longer than they should, or at the very least they’d be doing more career planning beyond their athletic days.

When should people who do your job retire? For most of us, retirement comes when we either have enough money to carry us through our retirement years combined with some kind of pension, or when our physical or mental abilities become compromised. So a hairstylist who develops crippling arthritis may not be able to continue in the profession even if the spirit is willing.

Looking around you, you may also have noticed there are some people who are just playing out their last few years of employment. These are the people who have ceased to have a zest for the work, find themselves going through the motions and contributing less and less new ideas. Their energy levels are consistently lower than they once were, and very sadly, everyone around them can see it, just as they know it themselves.

Retiring however, doesn’t have to mean shutting down life. After all, it could be viewed as just the next chapter, the next phase of living, time spent doing things you want to do but didn’t have the time to do in your working life. If you are fortunate, you have your health, a little wealth, and the bonus of time and someone special to spend it with.

Having something to look forward to doing is the key I think. So whether it’s travel, a hobby, time with extended family, or trying something you’ve never done but wanted to, the anticipation of something to look forward to can be a positive driving force.

The difficulty is that for some people, so much of their identity has been built during their adult life on their careers. Once contemplating retirement, they will no longer be known as an employee of such and such company. The immediate contemplation of something ending overwhelms the idea of something starting. This kind of thinking turns looming retirement into a future of unknowns with a purpose equally undefined.

Okay, so what’s the point? My point is to think of succession planning now. If companies are already planning for your replacement, why doesn’t it make sense that you should be planning now to position yourself in the next phase? If you’re looking forward to a move to a warmer climate, looking up information on destinations that are possible might be something you can do now that will keep you hungry for the next phase of your life.

If nothing so elaborate is in your future, maybe after all it’s just thinking about spending time with future grandkids. Can you picture yourself tossing around a ball eight or nine years from now, or riding all those rides at the exhibitions and fairs in ten years time? Maybe it’s time to start now to get in better shape so you can be actively involved a decade from now when you want to be.

And if you are planning to write that great novel that’s been in your head all these years, maybe now is the time to build that sunroom that overlooks your favourite view of the yard or the coastline where you’ll be content tapping away on your keyboard.

Looking ahead does scare some people. The fear of the unknown, of being lonely or cut off from others. If you are worried about what might happen down the road, and this may include having enough money to see you through, ask yourself what you can do now to prepare yourself. You may not be able to control the price of goods in the future, or the interest rate at the banks, but you can control your spending, your investments; both in people and in money.

Picture that day when you go in for the last time. Is it frightening or something you are looking forward to? Are you wanting a big send off with a party and presents or are you wanting it low-key and quiet? If that day is less than a year away, make sure you start telling people now who plan these things in your workplace what you have in mind. Then when your day comes there’s no surprise – unless of course that’s what you’ve wanted all along!

Cheers.

The End


Everything that gets started eventually comes to an end doesn’t it? Do you remember way back through the mists of time to that very first job you had when it was all you could do to contain yourself when you pulled on that uniform and started your initial shift? The idea of retiring and no longer working was about as remote as anything possibly could be, and yet, years and years later, here you are all done with work and have whatever time is left to you to move on to other things.

The staff where you work have undoubtedly got somebody in charge of some kind of send off for you – at least you are secretly hoping they do even if its low key. Or maybe you’re the kind of person whose hoping for banners, parties, cake, presents, accolades – the works! (Yeah that’d be me too). Anyhow you’ve earned the right you feel to get away from it all, and there’s hopefully enough money in the old bank account to get you through however many years you’ve got left.

So what’s it going to be? Traveling, a new sports car, gardening, rocking on the front veranda, volunteering, spending time with the grandkids if your kids will let you, or do you have plans to get some part-time job down at the hardware store just to keep your hands in doing something. Maybe there’s a fishing rod calling you, the gang whose promised to meet every morning at the coffee and donut shop or maybe writing that great novel that has been at the back of your mind for decades. Hope somebody buys a few copies eh?

The end is what you make of it, and rather than really seeing your employment as THE END, have you thought about seeing it as AN END; meaning there are new beginnings to get excited about? In other words instead of seeing things as a time to wind down, perhaps it’s just time to shift into another gear, take on a new activity with vigor and energy. Why you might have so much enthusiasm for what lies ahead that you realize you haven’t felt this kind of excitement for what is to come since the day you landed that very first job.

Reflecting on what was accomplished, what legacy you’ve left behind and how you may have improved the lives of others or bettered yourself is a good exercise in validation. However, spending too much time in that self ego-massage can detract from what lies ahead. Best to revel in your past history just enough to remind yourself of good things done, but save enough time and energy to really apply yourself to new adventures.

There appears to be a risk both mentally and physically for people within the first year of retirement brought about by a sudden change in their behaviour, their lack of purpose and it can and has resulted in death in some cases. You may even hear stories at your workplace about people you never knew that start off, “Poor old Elsie. I can’t believe it can you? And she was so looking forward to going on that cruise. I wonder how Ron will cope now?” Is it coincidence that Elsie passed away within a short time of retiring and no longer having that daily routine and responsibilities? Perhaps.

Have you started thinking about YOUR plan for post employment? I suppose that question really has more relevance for some than others based on age, plans, circumstances and dreams. Wouldn’t it be a shame if your dreams were only about what you’d do in the 67th year of your life but you only made it to 68? I don’t know that I’d want to know the expiry date of this machine I call me, but I’d imagine that if I did know ahead of time, I might choose to do a few things differently – especially as the expiry date got near. And that’s the issue really; your expiry date could be in 20 years, 7 years, or 7 minutes.

And suppose as some do, you did know your expiry date but your health, finances or commitments did not allow you do really do anything significant with your remaining time other than what you are currently doing? In other words, you couldn’t afford to quit your job, sell your home to live off the money for that precious remaining time because you had a spouse who would outlive you etc. Well what of that?

My goodness it all just seems so depressing…not a good topic for a Friday at all; the END of the week! However, what if – just think about it – you started right now to improve your chances of living healthier, happier and more productively with a goal of not finding yourself with financial or health problems? Maybe it would serve you well to financially plan things ahead of you, to work hard in that job to get ahead, and develop some hobby or activity that you could carry forward in your life as you age?
That might position you to have the resources to make the most of the time – be it what it may – to really live a life that you can take great comfort and happiness in.

So work smart, with enthusiasm, get your priorities straight whatever they are, see the big picture, put aside some money for the future, and enjoy your time right now!
Cheers