It’s important to remember that not everything has to be accomplished while you’re young. Many forces in society would have us believe that our 20s, 30s, and 40s are the only decades for securing a dream job, starting a business, writing a book, or growing a nest egg large enough in our sixties to replace our income so we can retire.
As I believe Seth Godin once said, it’s beneficial to view your life as a 100 year span. For adults, each decade will be used to build something. If this means the career must take a backseat in your 20s, 30s, and 40s due to starting a family, that’s OK. During those early decades the “building” will be focused on investing in children and a partner. Kids need just as much time and effort as a demanding job–probably more. Same with a spouse. To focus on advancement in the workforce when time could be better spent with the ones you love is worth considering. Clarification: You can have a great career and raise a family at the same time; however, in some cases scaling back might be necessary to spend the time you feel is sufficient with your children.
This means that real “career” productivity and success will come later than the Silicon Valley startup stories would have us believe. Maybe your business won’t begin until your mid-50s. If you’re assuming life will last 100 years, and you’ve made the decision to consistently contribute to your local and global community, then there’s no reason to believe you’ll ever slow down. With this perspective, you build a family (if you want) and then build a career that you can pour yourself into once the kids are independent.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, which is why I was impressed by Liza Mundy’s recent article about Janet Yellen [HT: The Dish]. Yellen will be 67 when she assumes the role as first female chair of the Federal Reserve. From the article:
It’s a liberating notion, really, to think that you don’t have to accomplish everything in your life – or “have it all” – simultaneously; that leaning back during one life stage doesn’t preclude leaning in later. Along these same lines, any number of workplace experts and career gurus are urging women to think of their career not as a “ladder” but as a lattice, or a jungle gym: Horizontal moves are followed by upward ones, followed by horizontal ones, etc. It may take longer to get to the top, but it doesn’t mean you won’t reach it eventually.
I love the lattice analogy. “It may take longer to get to the top, but it doesn’t mean you won’t reach it eventually.” What great advice. Moving horizontally and vertically to take care of those you love and build a career that helps others is a beautify way to live. Notice how retirement doesn’t come into play. Even if you have a proper retirement, learning, growing, creating, building, and loving never stop.
There are seasons in life–times where certain plots are tended and others lay fallow. Wisdom is knowing what to pour yourself into for 100 years.