As you probably know, tomorrow is my last full day in the office. I am retiring after nearly four decades in the workplace. Many have asked if I am ready, or am I excited, or what I plan, or how do I feel. To be truthful, I’m not totally sure. Yes, I am excited. I am ready financially, but who knows about everything else. I don’t have specific plans. And, I feel like we did as kids on the last day of school before summer recess… looking forward to the next chapter, one without structure, time limits, or specific expectations. In a way, I am ready for the bell to ring on that last day of school when you’ve done your best, the work is done, and all you have in front of you is time.
In essence, I am ready to write the next chapter of my life. As with any good book, every new chapter holds its own sense of excitement. You know it continues the story, but you don’t know what twists and turns the story might take. I plan to enjoy time with my bride and family, enjoy the hobbies time has limited, and look forward to whatever might be next. And, I hope to stay in contact with my many friends and colleagues from work.
In reality, many of you are also on the verge of a new chapter of your life. Some are or will soon be in new positions at work. Others are looking at changes at home. Others are beginning changes in health, geography, or responsibilities. So, how should we approach these changes in our lives? How do we proceed to write our own “next chapter?” Let me just share how I plan to write my next chapter. I am approaching my next chapter with:
- Thankfulness – I have been extremely blessed! I think everyone hopes that someday they can get to the point when they can retire on their own terms when they are still young enough and healthy enough to enjoy the time. However, all of us have something to be thankful for. So, as you approach your next chapter, pause to consider all the good in your life… the people, the opportunities, your health… and the hopes you have for the future. Being thankful is a terrific first step for the next chapter for each of us.
- An open mind – I am approaching those days in January when there is no alarm set, no calendar of meetings, no due dates, and freedom to set my own agenda (of course, with my wife’s permission, that is). However, I do not plan to be idle in my next chapter. I know there are plans for my life that I may not even yet be aware. I am approaching this with an open mind and plenty of flexibility. I will not automatically dismiss new possibilities. Each of us should approach what’s next with that same open mind. Don’t be constrained by your paradigms or preconceived expectations. Consider all possibilities and think outside-the-box.
- A sense of adventure – I am excited about what’s next for me! Part of that is because I don’t know what it is. I expect to be doing things I have never done before. I expect to go places I’ve never been before. And, I expect to learn new things, meet new people, and experience new adventures. Why don’t we all feel that way all the time? Have you lost your sense of adventure? Why not look ahead to your next chapter with this same sense of adventure and expectation?
- A view to others – I truly believe that a primary purpose for my life right now is to serve others. I will be seeking new ways to do this. I believe that each of us should be looking for ways to make a difference for someone else. Having a view to impact others – in other words, giving back – is important for fulfillment in the life of anyone. Consider how you might include a “serve” element in your next chapter.
So, as we approach a new year – one that surely represents change and opportunities for all of us – let’s begin now considering what we’ll write in that next chapter. Will it be one filled with excitement, joy, and fun or will it be another walk through the rut of life? Will it be one where you impact others positively or one in which your focus is on your own challenges? By thinking about it now, we have a chance to write it ourselves rather than merely let it happen to us.
Again, thank you for your kind words and encouragement during my transition to my own next chapter. You are one of the highlights of my life! Have a “top ten” day!