Rewire or Retire

Careers are long and complicated…” ~ Laura Dern

Don’t be distracted by the word “retire” in the headline. This post is not age-centric. It’s not necessarily for folks of a certain age considering retirement from work. Instead, think of it as moving on to your next role/gig/assignment/adventure. It’s about mastering the art of self-renewal.

The thing is, this post applies to anyone who is looking to level up their role with their team/organization.

It’s Not Retirement, It’s Renewal

In the final third of his book, Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder (Amazon Kindle link), Chip Conley quotes writer Mary Catherine Bateson about the effect of mid-career renewal:

Adding a room to a house is likely to change the way all the rooms are used. Midcareer renewal is potentially a more dramatic change. Rather than building something on at the back, we are moving the walls and creating an atrium in the center. The atrium is filled with fresh air and sunlight, and it presents an opportunity for reflection on all the rooms that open off of it.

The increased longevity that we experience over our parents and grandparents, doesn’t just mean we have extra years added to the end of our lives. It means we now have extra time, in the form of an atrium at mid-life that affects our entire life going forward.

We often lose sight of our talents over the course of our careers. The reality is that we’ve developed some mastery along the way. Twenty-five years of experience is rarely one-year of experience replicated 25 times. The accumulation of that 25 years of experience is what provides us with mastery. Renewal is the repurposing of that mastery to find new opportunities.

And it’s that mastery that leads to wisdom, which is where the Modern Elder adds value.

How To Rewire Your Mastery

Rewiring is simply asking yourself questions that provide insights leading to renewal. Conley offers a number of questions to consider:

  1. What trend or industry on the horizon fascinates you? How can you explore that more deeply?
  2. Which of your mastery skills are portable no matter what direction your career goes?
  3. Throughout your career history, how have your emotional intelligence skills evolved, lending intuition and insight to your colleagues? How can you leverage that emotional intelligence in the future?
  4. Do people seek you out for counsel? Why? What’s your ‘secret sauce’ and how can you build on that in new ways?

“The seeds of someone’s calling are often foreshadowed in their past.” Our accumulated experience provides a hint of our mastery.  

Rewire or Retire

So, in order to remain relevant in the workplace, regardless of our age or where we are in our career continuum, we need to rewire. Failing to do that may bring an early retirement when we least expect it. 

What do you think? Have you rewired in your career? How did that go? Did you experience the renewal you had hoped for?

Image copyright: auremar

A version of this post was sent earlier to my email newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to get my best work first, subscribe to the newsletter. I NEVER share your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time if it’s not a good fit.

If you’re struggling with how to achieve your career goals let’s chat about how I can help. You can use this link to my calendar to schedule the best time to talk.

Leave a Reply