It is April 6 in Massachusetts and currently 34 degrees with wind chill making it feel like 29. Although crocuses and daffodils have been valiantly trying to bloom during sunny periods in recent weeks, we’re all still tromping around in warm socks and down coats. The folks who braved Fenway Park yesterday for a 12 inning opening day game were treated to near freezing temperatures – though perhaps consoled by the Sox 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Even if the current forecast for some snow this weekend dampens our spirits, we know that spring will eventually be here. We’ll put away the down and wool, and break out the sandals. We’ll applaud the change in seasons, confident that spring will give way to our brief and glorious New England summer. By late fall, we’ll be looking forward to the first flakes of snow, because to live in New England means that we have selective amnesia that allows us to endure winter over and over again.
In our work lives, similar cycles play out year after year. The excitement of a new year, project or opportunity brings with it highs and lows as the reality of execution meets the challenges of not-quite-enough resources and changing circumstances. Bosses and coworkers come and go. If we’re lucky, we hang on to a few good relationships beyond the workplace. And at some point for all of us, we’ll transition out of the workplace altogether, leaving its peculiar circadian rhythms behind.
In January of this year, I joined the ranks of Boomer workers who are approaching retirement age, and transitioning to a part time position as a means of achieving more work life balance without giving up the personal and economic benefits of work. In their 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute reported that although 79% of workers plan to work for pay in retirement, only 29% of retirees reported that they had actually done so. Almost all who did so worked for reasons that weren’t solely financial: staying active and involved (90%), enjoy working (82%), or a job opportunity came along (47%).
I’m still adjusting to the more leisurely rhythms of life as a part time worker after 40 years of go go go. I am only responsible for myself after having led teams for 25 years. As I discussed with Sharlyn Lauby of the Unretirement Project a couple of months ago, making the transition from full time to part time work is a process. As Pete Seeger sang in Turn! Turn! Turn!, quoting Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “To everything there is a season…a time to plant, a time to reap”. As this first spring of semi-retirement begins, I look forward with great anticipation to seeing what this new phase of my life will yield.
Picture taken in Tokyo, January 2018. Semi-retirement means more time for travel, among other things!