Seth Godin just wrote a short blog post entitled, “The trap of early feedback.”
"We skew our thinking,” he writes, "based on the first feedback we get. That’s the moment of maximum fragility, and so our radar is on high alert.”
If you are approaching retirement and talking tentatively to a few people you know, there’s a chance you’ll hear some of them say things like, “Never retire. People who retire die early.” Or: “If you lose your work, you lose your meaning in life.” Or: “Why wouldn’t you keep working?" Or: “What on earth will you do with yourself?”
Those opinions are so outworn that they are not only threadbare, they are collapsing like an old stick hut.
But they persist. And if you hear that kind of drivel, you might start believing it. You might even start propagating it. (In the “About” page on this blog, I draw a bead on Christopher Plummer, who said something inexcusably ridiculous about retirement and death that probably discouraged several thousand prospective retirees from enjoying the freedom of getting on with a good life after full-time work. I used to find him likeable.)
If, on the other hand, you talk to a few retirees who are thriving in their newfound freedom, your opinion might be the polar opposite.
The lesson is comparable to good advice about the stock market and journalism: seek diversification.
Seth wraps up this way and so will I: "Listening to the right people is a gift, a chance to learn about how to do better. Listening to the wrong people, particularly the early critics, is a trap. If you’re not careful, it can become a place to hide."