How Boomers Can Find Contentment in Their Careers
In my last blog, I discussed the positive aspects of putting off retirement and working longer. But what if you’re stuck in a job you hate? Maybe you feel work just isn’t challenging or rewarding. The days are monotonous, tedious, and dull. Perhaps you feel underutilized as you repeatedly perform seemingly minute tasks.
Don’t give up hope. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Don’t hate me for this first piece of advice, just give it some thought. Sometimes a job becomes uninteresting because you cease to be interested and engaged in work and therefore stop being innovative or creative. Try and look for ways to become more productive, take pride in your work, and involved in diversified activities. Honor the place you work for its ability to provide sustenance and put food on your table. Find satisfaction by striving for excellence. Be motivated to find ways to bring a smile to your face as well as bring some joy into the lives of your co-workers.
Research shows that people aren’t happy because they’re successful; they are successful because they are happy. Happier people are generally more motivated, easier to work with, and willing to tackle a difficult assignment. Once again, attitude comes to play – how you feel about your job and the people you work with will influence the quality of your work. You might also consider asking your supervisor what you can do to improve your skills and earn a promotion for a more satisfying, interesting, and rewarding position in the company.
Or maybe it’s time to reconsider your career path. Why not take a career aptitude test to determine which jobs match your skills, passions, and interests? Follow up by taking the necessary steps to attain the training you need by taking classes at your local community college or volunteering to get the experience you need. If you’ve always dreamed of following your passion, it’s never too late. Maybe you can scale back on your expenses to pursue a personally rewarding career that offers less money. Start saving money and make the necessary sacrifices now to support your endeavors.
Ron Klotchman, 49, is a boomer who did just that. He had been working at a desk job he found unfulfilling for 14 years as a customer service representative, call center trainer, and manager. As the company scaled back during the recent economic downturn and laid off most of its workers, his manager told Ron not to worry because his job was secure. Although that should have been good news, Ron had mixed feelings. He was simply burnt out and dreamed of becoming a full-time artist.
“One day I finally felt the new quotas at work were deliberately becoming unreachable,” Ron says. “I discussed quitting with my wife and within an hour made the decision.”
He is still happy with his decision to leave and has never looked back. “About 90 percent of the company got the ax and the few times I went back to visit, the misery in the eyes of the 10 people that were left in this tiny cramped room finally convinced me I was right,” he says. “Now I have no misgivings. My health has improved from greatly decreased stress. I stopped being angry all the time as I reclaimed my creative roots as a full time artist.”
With the support of his wife’s income and money from the sale of his home, Ron picks up odd jobs as an art model and teaching art classes and began showing his work at a co-op gallery. “I was able to make this life transition because we were financially solvent, frugal, and because I have been fatalistic since my father died suddenly when I was 31. I decided to live and be happy while I could because life is short.”
Maybe you can follow a similar path. Surprisingly, recent evidence suggests career changes work out well for the overwhelming majority of older workers. This is true whether they changed jobs to follow their passion or were forced to change careers due to the struggling economy. In fact, a recent AARP study found that older workers and retirees moving into different lines of work enjoyed their new jobs more – even if it meant less pay, fewer benefits, and lower prestige. Why? Career changes often result in reduced stress and flexible work schedules.
And finally, don’t become so invested in your job that you lose sight of your personal life. Look for happiness outside your job with people you love, volunteer work that gives you a sense of fulfillment, and opportunities for personal growth.