(From Spring 2017)
I just completed my 16th year at my current job. Several of my colleagues sent nice emails to acknowledge my job longevity. I still feel like the new kid at school, but that probably has more to do with my personality, since I can’t remember NOT feeling that way at a job.
My previous job lasted 17 years, and the job before that for seven years. You could say that I don’t jump around a lot. It’s either loyalty or inertia, or a lack of confidence that there will be something else out there who would hire me.
Counting a temporary job operating a candle-making machine just out of college, I’ve been working full time for more than 40 years. In addition, I’ve been writing this column for more than 20 years, and I’ve done consulting, teaching, and other writing over the years in addition to my “day job.”
What do I have to say about work after these 40 years? Well, the things in my life that give me the most satisfaction are my family, my garden, and the fact that I still have some hair. But down deep, the motor that keeps me running has always been my jobs.
Having something that feels important to do every day, and to be compensated for those efforts, gives a deep satisfaction that I think people take for granted – until they find themselves without a job.
Of course, not everyone can work, and not all work generates income. That being said, I’m glad to read reports that indicate some people who had given up on being in our nation’s workforce are re-entering the job market. Having a job, or being otherwise needed, is like an anti-depression treatment.
Has every day at work over 40 years been pleasant? Absolutely not. Anything that involves other people (not of your choosing) is guaranteed to generate stress, anger, attempted murder…
But, sometimes job satisfaction comes from learning to deal with “difficult” people and situations. Failure and other disappointments happen all the time in a career, but if you play your cards right, so do successes and satisfaction.
I’ve been fortunate to have my career result in each job being better than the one before. Perhaps, when the time comes, retirement will be the best job yet!