Title Image


Is Working Over-Rated? | Baby Boomers

  |   Baby Boomers

image - workingI had just returned from a round of golf with a friend who is also a neighbor (Jim).  As we were unpacking the car, we saw another friend (Sam) still dressed in his shirt and tie, getting his mail.  We were chatting, when Jim said to Sam, “Let me tell you something, working is over-rated, I could really get used to not working all the time.”

We all laughed of course, but there was a slightly serious undertone to the conversation.  When the three of us were in our 40s and 50s, we used to talk all the time about “life after I retire”.  Now, like all Baby Boomers, we are in our 50s and 60s, and the talk has often shifted to “are you ready to retire?”  We all said, “oh no, it’s too soon for that”.

WHAT WE DIDN’T TALK ABOUT– Jim is fighting cancer, that is why he was not working – he was on leave.  Before his illness, Jim was a highly dedicated physician, often working 10 hour days at a hospital, then after coming home and having dinner, he would log into email and answer patients’ questions until midnight. He clearly loved the work, but it was also a major physical and mental drain.

A SIMPLE TEST Jim’s daughter (also a physician) happened to see a mark on Jim’s leg one day, said that it was not normal, and he should get it tested immediately.  Jim agreed to so do. A short time later, this same daughter gave birth to her first child.  Jim’s first grandchild.  Jim had to leave for a trip right after the birth, but would only be gone a few days.  He was simply elated.

A GREAT 3 DAYS – Jim worked in Bermuda once a year to offer his medical specialty to the national health service there.  He was paid for his time, and usually sneaked in some golf too.  Not a bad gig.  He was sad to leave his new grandchild so soon, but he was on top of the world, visiting a beautiful place, doing work he loves.  That lasted three days.

A TOUGH 3 DAYS – Jim got the call while in Bermuda:  cancer, a “b-cell” version known to be very aggressive.  He needed to schedule chemo-therapy as soon as he got back from Bermuda – which he could not leave for three more days.  The “good” news was that he had caught it early – thank goodness for his daughter’s insistence that he get it tested right away.  He said being on Bermuda this time was the loneliest three days of his life – he was very down, but at least he had work to divert his attention.

 I WILL BEAT THIS – Jim’s attitude is great.  He is on leave from work, golfing a lot, not very well, mind you, but almost every day.  It was how he dreamed his retirement might be actually, minus the cancer diagnosis of course.  I have tried to golf with him once or twice each week, to have fun of course, but really just to be with one of my closest friends.  It’s been good, a lot of laughs, but I greet him each time the same way, “how are you feeling today?”  Most days he says, “not bad” – it depends how close that day is to his last treatment.

STILL IN DENIAL – Given the work I do, helping Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic lives filled with purpose, I have offered to help Jim in the past, but he has always demurred by saying, “I don’t have time for that now”.   His illness has given him new perspective, but he still isn’t interested in planning anything.  He is just waiting to finish his treatments to see how much future he has left.  I have hope though – I can at least nudge him from time to time on the golf course to think more deeply about his life and make whatever time is left more meaningful to him.


If you’d like to explore the significance of your life before some health incident forces you to do so, click the button below to download our free, “HOW READY ARE YOU? ASSESSMENT”.

image - "How Ready Are You"