Is Working Over-Rated?

    By Paul Cronin and Gary Bozza, The Platinum Years

    I had just returned from a round of golf with Jim, a friend and neighbor. As we were unpacking the car, we saw Sam, another neighbor, 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 30s and 40s, 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 for retirement?” We all said, “oh no, it’s too soon for that.”

    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 chemotherapy 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 retired lives filled with purpose, I have offered to help Jim in the past. However, Jim 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 are not in denial and would like to explore the significance of your life in retirement before an unforeseen health incident forces you to do so,or just want to plan for a long meaningful life, please contact Gary Bozza.


    Gary Bozza, CEO & Managing Partner of WorldBridge Partners Chicago NW, has been winning industry awards and recognitions in talent acquisition for the last 26 years, following a highly successful 18-year career as Vice President of National Accounts and Director of Midwest Sales primarily at MOORE (now RR Donnelley). Gary’s business is dedicated to helping Owners, CEOs and Presidents hire industry talent, drive new revenue, optimize operations, and maximize enterprise valuation. His firm specializes in executive recruitment and coaching owners on how to improve the eight key drivers of business value from the “buyer’s eyes.”

    Contact Gary today at (847) 550-1300 ext. 33 or [email protected]