Typical of my generation, I expect that I will have to work as long as my health will permit. I don’t expect to retire to Sunnyside Estates and play golf and go on cruises. With my temperament (and financial prospects) I don’t ever expect to enjoy the luxury of retirement. Period.
Best case scenario, I will be a consultant into my 70s.
Worst case scenario, Wal-Mart greeter.
That’s why Peter F. Drucker’s article in the Harvard Business Review, “Managing Oneself” was such a good read. Not only does the article help you to identify your goals, progress, strengths and weaknesses, it also helps you think about the second part of your life and the challenge of changing careers in mid-life. Which, let’s face it, Gen-Xers are virtually guaranteed to have to do.
My key take-aways:
“Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong.”
How to use feedback analysis to set goals, review your progress and see if you really know where your strengths lie.
“Amazingly few people know how they get things done.”
How do you best perform? Are you a “reader” or a “listener”? Trying to stuff yourself into style of performing that doesn’t fit with your temperament is one of the greatest predictors of failure and dissatisfaction.
“[The] mirror test: Ethics requires that you ask yourself. What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror in the morning?”
If your most basic values are in conflict with the organization for which you work, it’s only a question of time before you either have to leave, become bitter and ineffective or get turfed out.
“[M]ost people, especially highly gifted people, do not really know where they belong until they are well past their mid-twenties.”
That’s why knowing your strengths, values and how you best perform will help you to understand where you do and don’t belong – turning down offers that you know will not be successful for you, however appealing. No time to waste.
“People who manage the second half of their lives may always be a minority.”
How and why you should start planning a second career, a parallel career or a social venture. Now.
My favourite quote:
It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.
In other words, don’t waste precious time trying to excel at something you think you “should”. Evaluate your strengths and work from them.