Bad Work, Good Work, or Great Work In Retirement


Bad work – work that we do just for the money.
Good work – work that we enjoy, and do well.
Great work – work that allows us to express ourselves, puts us in a state of flow and we do well.

In VLR when we have achieve financial independence, how much money we make doesn’t matter as much. In VLR we can therefore avoid bad work, look for good work, and maybe even get great work.

Two types of workers

There are two kinds of workers, people who can find purpose in working for someone else and those who find purpose creating  their own work. Neither path is better than the other and you can find great work in either situation. The key going from good to great is to find work that fill your days with joy and purpose.

When I first left my banking career I was trying to decide what work to do in my Victory Lap, I considered applying to work in the fishing department at Bass Pro Shops. I have a great passion for fishing and I thought I would enjoy talking to people about it. A job at Bass Pro would have been the easiest approach to filling my days, but it would have conflicted with one of my stronger core values ‘autonomy.” In hindsight I know the value conflict would have left me feeling empty, something inside told me that there was a better fit for me. I now know running my own business and helping people in my own way is my purpose. Boy am I ever glad that I listened!

Art – A labor of love

Seth Godin has written extensively about the important distinction between work and art. Art is more than just having a job and making money, it’s about how it makes you feel while making it. Think of it as a labour of love. People that practice their art don’t just do a job, they own it. They enjoy the beauty of the work itself and the contribution that they make. Your art is an expression of your inner self and can be found in anything. A car mechanic can find his art in restoring and selling old cars, he has found his art. He will in all likelihood will be happier with less stress than the mid-level office manager dislikes his work and hates his employer.

A waiter who practices his art by knowing the name of regular customers, knowing their order, what they drink, will lead to happy customers, job satisfaction and bigger tips. These types of people that find their art are the most driven people you will ever know, they do a great job and they know it. Why do you think everyone in the restaurant wants to sit in their section?

I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with all kinds of people across various industries from greeters at Home Depot, to entrepreneurs, to healthcare professionals, they go above and beyond the norm and create a great experience for others through their art. These people have a big smiles on their faces while they do their work and the smiles they put on their employees,their clients and the people around them. They love the work that they do and the clients that they serve an artist works longer than most, and they live longer than most. Their art is a deep source of nourishment for them.

Whenever I think about the connection between art and longevity I’m reminded about the story of Mr. Mancinelli who at the age of 107 is still cutting hair five days a week from noon to 8 p.m. One reason he continues to work, he said, is that it helps him stay busy and upbeat after the death of his wife of 70 years, Carmella, 14 years ago. He visits her grave before going to work each day. Mr. Mancinelli lives alone, not far from where he works. He drives to work, does his own shopping and laundry, and cooks his own meals. He is adamantly self-sufficient and still trims the bushes in his front yard with no help.What do you think would happen to Mr. Mancinelli if they decided one day to take his hair cutting job away from him? Losing his art would be difficult to overcome.

How To Find Your Art

Art in Victory Lap is work that we do that makes us feel alive, adheres to our values, and pays us a little money as well. One way of discovering your art is by answering the following four questions:

1. What would you love to do? What gets you excited and makes you feel good? What would you do for free if money was no longer part of the equation?

2. What are your skills? What talents, and abilities do you have? What types of activities come easily to you?

3. Which passions, and hobbies do you have that could generate income?

4. What do you need to feel fulfilled? What skills or experiences do you have that could help people?

A corporate banker friend of mine was struggling for a long time after being forced out by his company and we used these  questions to discover his art.

He always loved working with his hands building, repairing and he even built his own cottage with his father. While in corporate banking he would destress after a hard day by going down and building some furniture in the basement. After answering these  questions we came up with the following solution. He decided to do repairs and build cottages in northern Ontario. There is always a demand for dependable workers who do good work in cottage country, and it wasn’t long before word spread, and he had more work than he could handle. Now he spends his summers at the cottage working on his own schedule, with winters  spent  in Costa Rica taking it easy till summer rolls around again.

Another quick example, Fred a retired boomer is a big believer in staying healthy and working out. He loves to ride his bike and became an instructor giving spinning lessons at the local community center. Participants love his energy and positive attitude, and he serves as a good role model and inspiration to the boomers that regularly show up for a workout. The beauty of what he does is that he gets to workout with people that he likes, and gets paid for it at the same time. Call it a win-win.

We meet a lot of people at our seminars who have found their art and some of their stories are quite amazing. It always reminds us of what is possible when we decide to get out of our comfort zones, take some risks, and get a little creative.

Find your art, I guarantee you will be glad that you did!

Share this:

4 thoughts on “Bad Work, Good Work, or Great Work In Retirement

  1. Wealthy Doc Reply

    Great post!

    I’m fortunate to enjoy the great “art” of medicine. Despite some changes for the worst in health care, I still enjoy it as a calling.

    I love it even more now that I’m FI and cut back to part-time.

    Do I work for the love or the money? Both.

    It won’t be a 97-year career like that NY barber (who has been the oldest barber for 11 years!), but I’m enjoying great work for now.

    Thanks for helping me clarify the thoughts in my own head.

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      Thanks Wealthy Doc! I believe it would be difficult to find a suitable replacement for your profession, and why would you ever retire from doing something you love. The biggest concern is the amount of hours you are required to work plus additional stress created by the new changes. Cutting back to part time is the way to go.

  2. Sue Castanier Reply

    Dr Oswald, who turns 80 this year, is a Family Doctor in LaSalle, Ontario that makes monthly house calls to my Mom who is 92 years young. He spends half an hour chatting with my Mom about the family, gives her the flu shot, and checks her blood pressure whilst keeping my Mom out of clinics full of germs. My Mom has his home phone number if she needs to ask for help. There is nothing broken with our Medical system when there are doctors this dedicated. Thank you Wealthy Doc for all you do.

    • Mike Drak Post authorReply

      Your mother is a lucky women having a doctor who is willing to give so much. Being a doctor today is demanding and high stress. I’m concerned that new doctors will not view the job as Dr Oswald does which would be a huge loss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *