An early retirement

Last Friday, on my father’s birthday, he walked away from a job he loved.  Due to health concerns, he gave notice to his employer.

For the past 24 years, for not much money, my father has been taking care of people. In return, they’ve been taking care of him. He’s been the manager of the financial affairs of a lovely retirement community with 900 residents. His days have been full of checks, disbursements, budgeting, accruals and negotiations.

His days have also been full of smiles and appreciation, and a profound sense of meaning, value, and purpose. My father has been a bulwark of consistency and solidity for his community. He’s given them a sense of safety, fairness, and trust in a world which, for elderly people, is sometimes frighteningly uncertain.  Always available, reassuring, and rational, he’s been so much more than a manager of business affairs. He’s been a trusted friend at a time in people’s lives when it seems like friends are more important than ever.

My father told me recently that the job had saved his life, because “I get up every morning knowing that people need me.”

Getting up in the morning with a feeling that your existence means something to others may be the most important ingredient in a healthy and happy life.

Oh, and I may have forgotten to mention—last Friday’s birthday was my father’s 86th.

I am beginning to realize just what a wonderful thing this job has been for my Dad, for his community, and for our entire family. As his body finally says “no more,” we are sad that this time has come, but deeply appreciative of his life of service, and of how that life nourished him.

Oh, and lastly, about that “being needed” piece:   It may just be the most important part of this story. Getting up in the morning with a feeling that you’re needed—that your existence means something to others—that you have gifts and talents which are appreciated—this may be the most important ingredient in a healthy and happy life.

Thanks, Dad. Congratulations on a job well done. Oh, and by the way, we still need you.

YOUR PATH FORWARD: Make sure someone you know feels needed and appreciated today. It may save their life.

About the Author

Jim Hessler
Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

2 thoughts on "An early retirement"

  1. I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  2. Judy says:

    This concept of finding “work” that has purpose, that provides meaning for both you and those with whom you work, is a recurring theme for me these days. And it strikes me that so often we don’t invest the time and reflection it takes to match our abilities with the needs of our community in such ways. Thank you for the reminder of the pay off!

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