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The Answer to Boredom: Work

July 12, 2013 by  
Filed under blog

Yesterday day I had lunch with a very good, longtime friend. He had recently retired from working at the business he owned and we talked a lot about that transition from being a full time worker into a retiree. We talked about some of the big challenges a person faces when they hit retirement. It’s something that most people look forward to their entire working lives, but it’s a huge trap or at least it can be and not a very nice one.

The bottom line of our conversation was summed up in my friend’s comment “I am bored out of my mind!” And believe me, I know exactly what he is feeling! Been there, done that–twice. The first time was when I had made quite a few million dollars and just turned 40 and thought “Wow, I don’t have to work anymore. I think I will retire.” So I did but quickly discovered that I was, yes, bored out of my mind! I found I craved that meaningful purpose that having an occupation gave me so I jumped right back into work and what a relief that was! I instantly felt so much better.

My second retirement was just about 2 years ago when I turned my company over to my kids and decided to play more tennis and travel more. That was great for the first 2 or 3 months but then I started feeling unfulfilled and constantly found myself wandering around the house and driving my wife crazy. I knew something was wrong and my brain kept saying “Ok … you are no longer an entrepreneurial business type guy and as you’re not doing much writing any more you aren’t much of an author, so just what the hell are you?”

I tried to busy myself with more tennis, workouts, mountain hikes and travel and, yes, that helped but it just wasn’t enough. Then quite suddenly something motivated me to pick up an old book that I had read a couple of times before. I did this as part of my philosophy learned from my late great mentor, Paul J Meyer, that philosophy being that you should pick a few dozen or even a hundred of the very best books you’ve ever read then read them multiple times. Since we all forget so much of what we’ve read and learned at any one time, rereading is necessary.

I began reading Harold Kushner’s wonderful book “When All You Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough: The Search for a Life That Matters” It was while reading this that the key to solving my struggles with retirement and boredom hit me full in the face. What was it that Kushner said in his book that was such a breakthrough for me? It was simply uttering that good ole four letter word “WORK”!

Don’t laugh. This really is the answer to boredom and does give one a major power lift to the soul, the mind, and the body as well as a big time enhancement to self-worth. And yet that was the very thing we think we want to leave behind. But that thinking is wrong. We need work. And for more than just a paycheck!

Next week we’ll talk more about this concept of work being so very important to us and why. But for now, whether you are still working or retired, realize that having a purpose each day is what makes life fulfilling and that the idea of retirement should be an opportunity to work as you like, not to stop working altogether.