In her regular column in this Saturday’s Globe and Mail, “Suddenly, I’m the oldest person in the room – and I love it”, Margaret Wente describes the process of aging in the workplace as “both thrilling and terrifying.” Until we’re in our 50’s, she writes, “we’ve had a checklist of things we were supposed to do (go to school, graduate, leave home, job-hop, find vocation, settle down, mate, buy property, reproduce, put the kids through school).” By the time we reach the status of elder statesperson at work, she concludes, “The checklist is done.”
Whose checklist are we talking about, though? What’s on my checklist?
Yes, I went to school, graduated, left home and seriously job hopped. After a long while, I even found a mate.
Beyond that, though, my path has diverged quite a bit from Ms. Wente’s. I haven’t to this point found a vocation, bought property, or reproduced. And I’ve never really understood what it actually means to “settle down.” Isn’t settling down just a state of mind? If so, I haven’t done that either.
It’s not that I ever set out not to have a career, own a house or be a parent. To be honest, I don’t think I was conscious of even having a checklist until I was in my mid-30’s, when I hired a life coach to help me think about what I wanted in my life. And when I did think about it, it seemed to me that all of those things would be “nice to haves.” None of them a given, not absolutely necessary to making my life complete – but yes, nice to have.
And as the years have gone by, I’ve made decisions at various junction points that have led me to this moment, and those marks haven’t been checked off.
Now what? Heck, it’s MY checklist, and I can do whatever I want with it! So I’m scratching out those items that I know I don’t want any more, and adding a few others.
Here are a few things on my checklist:
- Build and maintain strong relationships with my family. Check.
- Learn something new in every job. Check.
- Align my work with my values. Check.
- Live within my means. Check.
- Have faith that we’re never given more than we can handle. Check.
- Own property. Working on it.
There’s plenty more, but you get the idea.
What’s on your checklist?