Bad Work – Work that we do just for the money.
Good Work – Work that we enjoy and are good at.
Great Work – Work where we can express ourselves, and that puts us into a state of flow.
In Victory Lap Retirement, because we have achieved financial independence, how much money we make doesn’t matter like it used to. We can therefore avoid bad work, and instead look for good work and preferably 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 and meaning through creating their own work. One path is not better than the other and you can find great work in either situation. The key is to find the path that will fill your days doing things that you want to do.
Personally, when I was trying to decide what work to do in my own Victory Lap, I first considered applying for a job in the fishing department at Bass Pro Shops (I have a great passion for fishing and would have loved talking to people about it). It would have been the easier approach, but it conflicted with one of my stronger core values, which is “autonomy.” That value conflict concerned me and something inside told me there was something better waiting for me. That “something” was running my own business and helping people in my own way. I am so 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 having a job and making money, it’s about how you feel while earning it. Think of it as a labor of love. People who practice their art don’t just do a job, they own it. They enjoy the beauty of the work itself and their contribution.
Your art is an expression of your inner self. For example, a car mechanic can find his art in restoring and selling old cars, and because he found his art, he is much happier and less stressed than the average mid-level office manager. A waiter who practices his art knows the name of every regular customer who walks through the door. He knows what they like to drink, how they like their steaks and because of the high level of service, the waiter receives a generous tip. People who practice their art in their work are the most driven people you will ever know. They do a great job and they know it. Why do you think his section in the restaurant is always full?
I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with all kinds of people — from greeters at Home Depot, to others who run their own businesses, who go above and beyond to create a great experience through their art. Because they love their work and the clients that they serve, an artist works longer than most, and can end up living longer than most as well. Their art is a deep source of nourishment.
Whenever I think about the connection between art and longevity, I’m reminded of the story about Mr. Mancinelli. At the age of 107, he is still cutting hair five days a week from noon to 8 p.m. He continues to work because it helps him stay busy and cheerful. About 14 years ago his wife of 70 years (Carmella) passed away and 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 his hair-cutting job went away? Losing his art would be tough to recover from.
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 you can discover your art is by answering the following questions:
- What would you love to do? What gets you excited and makes you feel good? What would you do for free if money were no longer an issue?
- What are you good at? What skills, talents and abilities do you have? What things come easily to you?
- What kind of work could bring in some money? Which passions/skills/hobbies do you have that can help earn you some money?
- Is there a problem that you can solve for people? What problems can you help solve for other people?
We used these four questions to help a corporate banker friend of mine find his art after he was forced out of his corporate job. He always loved working with his hands to build and repair things. My friend even built his own cottage with his father. While in corporate banking he de-stressed after a hard day by building furniture in his basement.
After he answered the four questions, we came up with the following solution. He wanted to do repairs/new builds for other cottagers up north. There is always demand for dependable workers who do quality work in cottage country. It wasn’t long before word spread and he had more work than he could handle. Now he spends summers at the cottage working on his own schedule and during the winter, he and his wife live in Costa Rica to take it easy until summertime.
Another Quick Example
Fred is a retired boomer who is dedicated to staying healthy and working out. He loves to ride his bike and became a spinning instructor at the local community center. Participants love his energy and positive attitude and he serves as a role model to the boomers who regularly show up for a workout. The beauty of what he does is that he gets to workout with people who he likes, and get paid for it at the same time. Call it a win-win.
We meet many people at our seminars who have found their art, and some of their stories are quite amazing. It 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. You’ll be glad that you did!