Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Would You Do If You Could Do Whatever You Wanted?

I decided yesterday that I was going to limit myself to working 12 hours a day. Since I started at 11 a.m. this morning at 11:08 when I looked at the time, I stopped.

The main reason for this decision is my observation of many people I know older than me who continue working into their sixties, seventies and even eighties because that is all they have. That isn't to say that they don't have families. In fact, many of them do. From all appearances, they love their families and their families love them back.

It's just that their entire lives, they have gone off to the office, university, military base or wherever and done whatever it is they do. They know nothing else.

A friend of mine asked me why I felt like I shouldn't work all of the time. He pointed out that I really enjoy my work and that my older children were all out on their own, my youngest is in boarding school, and when she is at home she doesn't really need a lot of care. She can watch Vampire Diaries while laying on the couch with no help from me.

Here is another place where judo has been a good metaphor for life. When I was competing, I had several teammates a generation ahead of me in terms of competition - they had been on the world or Olympic team 5 or 10 years prior. Those who had an education had gone on to get good jobs. Those who didn't have an education, no matter how many national championships or international medals they had won were not doing very well. I decided to stick with my day job as an industrial engineer, despite the urging of many people to quit and train full time. After I won the world championships, I went back to school for a Ph.D.

Now, looking ahead at the people 10 or 15 years further along in life in similar careers, the ones who are still working don't seem all that happy. They don't seem unhappy, either. It's more going on auto-pilot.

I don't know the answer to a good old age. What I do know is that women in my family tend to live into their nineties, so I'm probably going to have a good many years left without the need to work to pay the bills.

I know that I'm not going to be the person who volunteers to be on every committee. I've been chair or president of so many organizations at the state, regional and national level that I have lost count - everything from judo to the American Association on Mental Retardation. Although I liked some of the people I met and I believed the work was necessary, I can't honestly say that I ever wanted to do it. I'm currently president of the board of a non-profit for one more year and after that I'm done for life.

I'll probably continue to teach a course in statistics each year for the next five or ten years, but I don't see myself teaching into my eighties.

As far as teaching judo, frankly, I'm getting old and can't do half the things that I used to do. I think most judo instructors hang on longer than they should. There is nothing wrong with moving aside and letting the younger people take over.

I went from training to beat everyone in the world to getting a PhD to getting tenure to starting a business, all while raising a family.

Now the family is 80% raised, I have the PhD, the business is stable and within a few years, I expect to sell it and hopefully make a pile of money.

What then? What will I do when I'm not working? The truth is that I have no idea. The only way to figure it out is to deliberately schedule some time not to work. (I can hear my niece, Samantha, saying, "Ha!" all the way from St. Louis.)

If you've been reading this blog since it began you seriously need to get a hobby but you also know that I have tried to retire a couple of times before.

So, yes, this is my next stab at easing into retirement - working 12 hours a day and actually taking two weeks of vacation this year.

Julia has been lobbying for a tropical vacation and Dennis liked Hawaii, so we'll probably go there for one week in the summer. For the other week, we're debating between staying home and ???

The last time I took an actual vacation when I didn't work (as opposed to working in a new location) was 1980.

Earlier this year, I had planned to take 2-4 days a month when I didn't work but after a few weeks, I got busy and forgot about it.

That's another thing I have learned from judo. If you really want to make something work, if you fail at it the first time, you try again.


Judo life said...

Well you shared a good topic here. Your title entice me to think about it more deeply and give the answer.

Anonymous said...

I discovered after moving to Florida and buying a Harley I am never at a loss of what to do. Every day it isn't raining, I ride my bike. If I have to work, I ride it to work; If I don't have to go to work, I ride anywhere the wind blows me. If it rains, I read.

My advice is buy a Harley. If you did, I would SO come to California and we would travel the state on two wheels. When it rains, we'll drink California wines!

Signed, The YOUNGER sister (It's all I have since you're the SMARTER sister!)

Anonymous said...

I have a bucket list of everything I want to do before I kick the bucket. It's saved as the background and screensaver on my desktop.

AnnMaria said...

Maybe I should write a bucket list