I’ve had hundreds, maybe even thousands of conversations with 50- and 60-somethings who are pondering what’s next for their career.
Early on in these exchanges, I’ll often pose this question:
Which matters more to you – making a buck or making a difference?
Yep, it’s a bold, cut-to-the-chase kind of question and most respond instantly. They’re either looking to boost their retirement nest egg OR they’re looking to engage in more altruistic pursuits. The answer to that question also helps me to laser in on more fruitful next steps they might consider.
But every now and then, I’ll run into someone who says, “I’d like to do both.”
Those are often my favorite conversations.
Can You Check Both Boxes?
No doubt, having one laser sharp goal sets the stage for a swifter and more efficient journey. One goal, one success trajectory, fewer distractions or detours.
What’s not to like about that?
For the Make-a-Buck crowd, seeing your savings multiply or being in a better position to fund remarkable travel adventures? That’s sure to keep them charging ahead for years to come.
As for the Make-a-Difference crowd, witnessing positive social change and the smiling faces of others who are benefiting tends to fuel more effort. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, as they inspire others to pitch in and help.
But accomplishing both outcomes? Is it even possible or advisable?
You bet, but you’ll need to flesh out your activation plan a bit more.
You’ll also need more discipline around working your plan. By the way, at this vintage age, partnering with others is a smart move. There’s strength in numbers, plus it helps to keep work & play in proper proportion. As you partner with others, you’ll also likely be graced with more wonderful experiences and new friends.
Blending Short-Term Gigs with Long-Term Cathedral Thinking
I enjoy taking on short-term projects for a number of reasons.
For starters, it allows for a nice assortment of diverse work pursuits. Another perk is the finite timeline. There’s a beginning, a mid-point, and an ending.
If you’re working with a thoughtful client, they’re often weighing in with feedback as the project unfolds, so you’re not just earning income. You’re getting smarter, too. Then you finish, you celebrate, you invoice, you collect, and you move on to your next adventure.
But Cathedral Thinking introduces an entirely different dynamic.
Cathedral Thinking is a term I’m hearing more often these days, yet it’s been around for centuries. It speaks to long-term, visionary work that could take generations to complete. Much like building a massive cathedral, those who lay the first stones won’t be there to savor the finished product. Yet each worker is driven to make a meaningful contribution to something that will be enjoyed by future generations they’ll never meet.
At Retirepreneur, there’s a good bit of Cathedral Thinking happening here.
Sure, we help folks advance in the short run, but we’re equally invested in advocating for grander societal changes around aging. And every now and then, when I feel like an ant pushing a boulder up a mountain, I think about the future generations (including my great-grandchildren) who might benefit from what we’re doing today and I’m happily back at it.
Inspiration from Seth Godin
It’s no secret – I’m a Seth Godin fan girl. I’ve read all his books, watched his videos, participated in his programs, and even had the privilege to spend a day with him at his office nearly a decade ago, along with eleven other solopreneurs.
This week, I discovered a Seth Godin gem that’s so apropos for this discussion. Last year, when he was inducted to the Marketing Hall of Fame, Seth ended his acceptance speech with a powerful observation:
Here’s the thing folks, there are footprints on the moon. And if we can put footprints on the moon, surely, we can do work that matters.
Work that matters — settle down and let that sink in for a moment.
Now consider this: There’s a growing cadre of modern elders who want to do work that matters. And within this group are folks who’d like to be compensated, too, if only to help them weather a future storm.
So here’s the thing folks – until that Retirement Nirvana Cathedral is built, we’ll continue to lay stones. There’s lots more work to be done to ensure a better encore chapter for future generations. One where elders are cherished, delighted, and safe.
Care to join us?
Please email me at donna [at] retirepreneur.com, because this make-a-difference goal requires many hands. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.