On arriving at my hair appointment lately, I noticed a pretty bouquet of flowers on a table near the reception. My hairdresser Isabelle explained it was her 60th birthday.
Champagne at the sinks
As the colour took a while, all the while people kept arriving. Two little girls, with a bunch of tulips, the daughters of her daughter’s best friend. People popping in on their way past, to plant a kiss on her cheek while she was cutting hair. An old lady who has been coming for years, knew her 60th was today. Champagne served at the sinks. By the time I passed on the way out, the whole table was completely covered in flowers.
Inspiration in surprising places
It wasn’t just the people that came in all day, it wasn’t just the flowers. This lady was a new vision of success for me. She’s doing the job she loves, surrounded by the people she loves. She tells me she’s 60, she looks 50. But she feels 30, ‘nothing changes’. I loved watching her work. Sometimes you find inspiration in surprising places.
A new view of success
And it made me think, why is our view of success tied up with retiring early? Leaving our friends in our work, behind? Leaving our colleagues? What is successful about that? In times where we are going to be soon living until we are 100, what’s the preoccupation with retiring at 60? Why? And what do you replace work with, golf? Holidays? And then what? People need purpose.
Perhaps the quest is to try to find a job that you love, if you enjoy your work, your life will be richer. Don’t make financial gain your only goal. Once the excitement passes, the joy fades. Your goal posts just move further away. The key is to try to love your days, even though there are always going to be days that you don’t.
HSBC released an interesting report last year on retirement. People actually need more when they retire than they do when they’re working! In fact, quite a bit more! People need something to do when they don’t work anymore. We still need to have purpose, create interactions, and give back. We need people.
Maybe the vision of success should be to work in a job that we love, and to be able to work for as long as we want? Being successful, but in a space that you hate, won’t lead you to the right answer. Retiring early, doesn’t answer the question. Look at footballers. Is retiring at 35 years old really that great? Your career already behind you? Your best days, over? Many spend the rest of their days battling loneliness, addictions, releasing books or going on chat shows to repay debts. Not having purpose is hard.
Passion with your coffee
It reminds me of the baristas that you see in coffee houses in Spain and Italy. Some of them are 70 and they still serve your morning espresso with pride, a finish you can just taste. Their movements so regular, they can do it eyes closed. They know all the regulars. Scrap that, they know the whole street. They enjoy their job. They enjoy their life. Their job is their life, it’s a part of it. It’s not something they have to leave behind. That’s how I like my coffee served. Who doesn’t want a touch of passion with their morning coffee? A smile? Life is good. Don’t let others tell you when it should change.
The goal? The goal shouldn’t be to give it up. Work your way into a life that you love and you’ll never work again.