We hear all the time about people forced to retire and hating it. When the choice is not ours, there is no time to get ready, no graceful transition. There’s also a sense of indignity. We want to control our destinies the best we can, not be controlled by some external force.
But some people will never be ready. They don’t imagine themselves not working. They can’t see another way. And that’s fine unless it’s a covert form of deprivation.
A friend told me an interesting story recently. A few years ago, he was hiking with his father on the Camino de Santiago, the well-trod pilgrim route in northern Spain. They started their walk on my friend’s 40th birthday. They ended on his father’s 79th.
Along the way, they met a lawyer from Boston in his eighties who spends a good portion of his retirement hiking. The lawyer had only started hiking after being forced to take his vacation time at work when he was in his late seventies. His law firm had instituted a progressive policy requiring the firm's lawyers to take time off, presumably to refresh their keen minds. On his forced vacation, the lawyer discovered he liked hiking more than working.
That was it. He walked. Literally and figuratively.
The lesson? We might not know ourselves adequately unless we step away from the ordinary into something different, if only as an experiment.
The lawyer had his hand forced. But it turned out to be more of a benevolent nudge. A nudge that changed his life.
Knowing there can be nurture in a nudge, why wait for it to come from some external force like an HR policy or perhaps an illness? It might not come at all.
We can nudge ourselves. The rest of life awaits.