Myth One: Work leads to retirement

This is the biggest myth of all. First of all, most people simply can no longer afford to stop working. Even for those who do stop working soon they find their lives are filled with too much leisure time. Not too long after a feeling of wanting to make a greater difference in the world will emerge. For most of us it is the question how can I keep working? It seems now organizations are hiring the youngest workers at the lowest price they can get. Just looking around it seems those over 40 seem to get pushed out sooner than later.

Take Control

After 40, it is mandatory to take control of one’s life and work. First, only those who truly don’t love their work want to retire. Otherwise why would anyone want to stop doing what they love? Our society sends a strong message for planning for retirement. Despite this it is mandatory to take responsibility for finding work which last a lifetime.

Money magazine

Just this month Money magazine stressed that now was the time to increase the retirement saving. Sure, so others can make money at your expense. This advice is very misleading and irresponsible I can add. This is like telling people they should save more for when they die. When you do what you love there is no reason to ever stop working. So why save for death?

Our education system

Our education system throughout high school, college, and later adult education rarely teaches us how to discover and do the work you love forever. What can be more important?

What happens when you don't retire?

You start to place a new emphasis on living, especially in the present. You are able to make more choices, take more risks and have more courage with your life and work. Don’t fall for the retirement message, its outdated and no longer useful.

Myth Two: Do work which you are good at

After 40, for many people the work we are good at in many cases no longer brings the same joy as 15 or 20 years ago. You are not same person at 40 or 50 as you were at 20 or 30. Much has changed. In many cases this same work no longer provides passion, meaning and fulfillment.

However, there is a tendency to continue to do work which we are good at even if we are no longer interested. This is a strategy to retirement and quick death. The best way to prolong life is to live fully each and every day doing work which makes a difference to you. That will impact others in a good way as well. After 40 it is much better to focus around your deep interests and then learn how to do it. I hear stories all the time from clients, I would love to do this but I don’t have the skills. But it turns out that what you are interested in the most you can learn quickly and can be good at. Do you find yourself working in areas which others are proud of and you are good at but no longer interested in? It is time to change.

Myth Three: Work is not something to be enjoyed

The historical view of work is that work should be hard, not enjoyed, and not even something one might be good at. This notion has stayed with us. Even career counselors today will nudge people into jobs and careers which the market wants. This is the wrong approach. First you must start with work which you enjoy and then build a market around you. I had a client once who loved to build model airplanes. For sure, the world didn’t rush to his doorstep. Also, he had a family to support and bills to pay. Fast forward 3 years later he owns a model airplane hobby store, rents out the store to Boy Scout groups for adventure days, and many related activities which bring in income he needs. Is he rich by society standards? Probably not, but he pays his bills and he might live longer. Are you working in an area you don’t enjoy? It is time to change - no excuses!

Myth Four: Work is for only making money

I hear this one all the time. Work after forty has nothing to do with making money at a deep level. Work has to do with feelings of self worth, contribution, deep happiness, and a sense that your life matters. Also, work has the opportunity to pay your bills and living expenses. It is a nice combination.

One should never confuse work and money. The best work is when it feels voluntary and the worse work is when it feels obligatory. Of course, one needs to make money but the question is how to make money and live a life which feels fulfilling. There are many ways to make money. The more important question is what will you make money at and where will it lead you? If the answer is retirement, time to change direction.

Myth Five: A resume is necessary and sufficient

It is necessary only because the shallow way we have approached work in our education and thinking. The resume covers only an external view of what you have done. This form doesn’t cover your dreams, plans, goals, and deep desires when it comes to work. At least the Vita (usually reserved for college professors) gives one the opportunity to discuss what they are most proud of along with current and planned activities. More important is to develop another document. This is your future biography. I suggest that you write in second person describing the life you wish to live focused around the work you want to do. 2-3 years is a good timeframe. Then you will see the gap and the way how to close it. At least now by the time you write a resume, it will truly reflect the direction you most want to take. The resume is necessary but it is not sufficient.

I'll do anything!

Recently a man in the audience of a recent talk said with arms crossed, "I have been out of work for several years and at this point I’ll do anything".

This is not a good strategy for work. Better to take down time and figure out your life’s plan around work and then pursue it vs. wasting away time applying for just jobs. Don’t fall into the top 5 myths for yourself.

As a result your life will be fuller, happier, and more coherent.

I’ll be cheering you on as you go!

Craig Nathanson

Author's Bio: 

Craig Nathanson is the author of Don't JUST retire and die: A new approach to your life and work after 40" and he is a coaching expert who works with people over forty.

Visit Craig’s online community at The Vocational Coach where you can take a class, get more ideas through Craig Nathanson’s books and CD’s, get some private coaching over the phone or skype using webcam or in Craig’s office, or read other stories of mid-life change and renewal.

Craig lives and works in Petaluma, California. His office is located at P.O Box 2823, Petaluma Ca, 94953. You can reach him at 707-775-4020 or at