[United States Botanic Garden]
I've been blogging about retirement over the last couple of weeks and given my research and your comments, it's clear not everyone is going to cease working. (Cease working is the dictionary meaning of the word retirement.) Many people will continue to work because they want to work but others will continue to work because they need the money. The drive to work whether for personal fulfillment or for financial reasons is as important in the Fourth Quarter as it is in the Second or Third Quarter of life.
Tension develops when need or desire to change jobs is viewed under the lens of age. Job change at any time of life can be disquieting but for many it becomes particularly so in the Fourth Quarter. But you need to ask yourself why you want or need to make a change. All job changes can be analyzed from this simple precept: What are you moving away from or what are you moving towards? Are you leaving something that doesn't work for you anymore or are you going towards something better? Nothing may be wrong with your current job but a new job offers more money, a different challenge or additional perks. If you feel the need to move away from a job, you need to know why and address those issues in your job search. Whether you aren't making enough money, the people you work with are driving you crazy or you are bored with the work, it's important to understand why you feel the need for change.
Here are four reasons to make a change in the Fourth Quarter:
1. Your Industry has changed. My father was 19 years old when he started out in trucking. I will resist the urge to give you a history lesson on transportation in America but my dad joined the industry at the perfect time. Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System and the phenomenal growth in America after World War II meant that my father was able to grow personally and professionally with the industry. He found fulfilling work that allowed him to travel the world and make an excellent living. In 1980, the Federal Government re-regulated the industry and the world that my father, his company and other motor carriers operated in ceased to exist. He had spent 40 years working for a company he loved in a thriving industry but the business changed and he had to change too. What is the state of your industry? Is it in a growth mode or is it constricting? Are traditional competitors falling away while smaller companies are springing up? The reason your job may feel harder is that it is harder because the rules have changed. If you decide a seismic shift has occurred in your industry, you will need to decide whether you want to play the game by the new rules or make a change.
2. Your co-workers are getting younger. I have a contractor friend who said he never wins a bid if the client is in his or her 30s. He doesn't understand why because the quality of his work is superior and his pricing reasonable. I love working with intergenerational groups and in my job it is a necessity. My experience balanced against their energy keeps the projects vibrant and engaging. But I am also a realist because age can be a distancing factor. I look back on my career when I was the young person and remember when I had all the answers. How annoying! What the young lack in experience, they make up for in other areas. I also acknowledge sometimes I am viewed more as a peer of their mother instead of a really cool co-worker. If you find it difficult to work for or with someone younger than you, it's probably time for a change. Though at a certain point everyone will be younger so maybe you need to think through why you aren't working well with those younger than you. Is it just certain individuals or the whole age group?
3. Your Health. Are you sick all the time? Is the job driving your health into the ground? This can happen at anytime in life but in the Fourth Quarter we tend to link it to age. Maybe it has nothing to do with age; maybe you are just over the job.
4. You need a change. That's right, you've been doing this work for 20 or 30 years and you just want to do something else. But the voice in your head says making a change in the Fourth Quarter is irresponsible. If you need or want to work for the next 10 to 20 years, why not do something challenging and invigorating?
A winning football coach may find the strategies used in the first three quarter ineffectual in the fourth quarter but he doesn't "stay" the course in hopes that the game will miraculously turn around. He changes strategies and develops a new game plan. You can do the same once you understand what is not working for you.