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Never Work a Day--When Your Job has Purpose & Joy

#joy #mentoring #optimism #positivity #purposedriven #wellbeing Apr 02, 2024
Ivan in his whitewater canoe gear

Some of you may have noticed a couple of blogs ago, I announced my retirement with no big fanfare or fireworks. I just snuck it in there. Now, I’ve been coming across folks these past few weeks who continue to be surprised that I’m done. I think they’ve been a little shocked. The truth of the matter is I was premature to use the word ‘retirement.’

I’m not really retiring from work.

If I was to be honest, I resigned from the grind and am choosing to only pursue opportunities where my purpose is closely aligned, where people really want my help, and where it’s fun.

I am ready to get back to joy.

I’m 54. I feel like, if I’m lucky, I’ve got ten good summers left. Some might say that’s optimistic, and they would be right. I can already see that there are things that I am physically unable to do now that I was able to do a decade ago. The phrase, ‘The days are long, and the years are short,’ is resonating with me. And if I only have ten good summers left,

I am asking myself, “What are the things that I still want to pursue?”

I’m wondering what are the experiences and opportunities I put aside for status, title, wealth, responsibility and obligation because that was the path that I ‘should’ pursue?

My first stop is going to go back to my small town of 1000 people and school of 1000 students to help them rebuild their championship culture. I realize that I’m happiest when I am helping people improve themselves, improve their organization and can see the direct impact of the interventions that I’m initiating.


Between consulting stints, I’m choosing to pursue my hobbies of canoeing and golf--two sports that have gotten the best of me for the last two decades. I’ve spent more time outside of a canoe going down a river than in it. It’s not unusual for people to see me as a part of the Madawaska Swim Team, tumbling down a waterfall.

I’ve realized that the pursuit of mastery is something that brings me joy.

I love to compete plain and simple, even if it's only competing against myself and trying to be the best version of myself. Mastery brings me joy.

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to be handy. I’ve thought about trying brick-laying, log cabin building, automotive restoration, fine cabinetry joining or landscape architecture. All of these professions are skill sets I have watched from afar with great awe and admiration. I marvel at the artisans as they assemble something from nothing. This June, I’ve signed up for my first weekend workshop in garden wall building. I’ll be rolling up my sleeves and going elbows deep chasing after these new interests.

It's easy to see that I have more interests to pursue than a decade might allow. So why this long preamble? I think sometimes we can be so busy pursuing status and title or climbing ladders that we have forgotten why we are doing these things. We’re investing in ourselves and our education to build wealth so that when we hit 65, we have the freedom and autonomy to do the things that we really, truly enjoy. Or we grind for our family’s comfort and intergenerational wealth (security). But what I’m seeing is too many people don’t get retirement. Too many people are not getting to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Joy isn’t just a feel-good thing--superfluous. It builds hope and optimism which contribute to lower stress levels, faster recoveries from injuries in hospitals, lower likelihood to have recurring medical visits and chronic conditions, longer lifespans and less dependency on medications.

The benefits of joy are grounded in science.

I am blessed to be able to walk away from the structure and organizational grind of day-to-day work. I know that. Here’s the thing, not all jobs are grinds. By choosing to pursue helping a soccer team improve a culture, my days are going to be longer. You might be surprised to learn that the work will be way more intense than when I was in the corner office. I’ll have to scrap and claw for resources, yet it will bring me joy because this work is aligned with my purpose of mastery, mentorship and development . . . and this is the secret of choosing to pursue purpose and joy over status, title and wealth.

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