Saturday, January 8, 2011

Retirement Planning - New Professions

A recent news report stated that many baby boomers are not really retiring when they leave their current jobs. They’re just moving on to new professions. Since I’ve declared New Years to be a time of reflection, this prompted me to think about various professions I considered earlier in life. Perhaps I should try moving on by looking back.

I’ve had four careers, each lasting about ten years. It seems I either max out my growth potential in ten years, or I get so knowledgeable about the job that I get bored and move on. Either way, a ten-year window per job means I should be able to plan on two, or even three, more careers after I retire. While I hope that writing will turn out to be one of them, I’m realistic about the chances of success in that field. Here are some others that really piqued my interest in my youth.

After reading a lavishly-photographed article in National Geographic on the Aztecs, I thought that being an archaeologist would be exciting. Even today, PBS shows that deal with this area are ones that get me to put down the clicker. I wonder, though, if it’s my desire to travel that’s pushing this button. Also, I’m a bit out of shape to be climbing around ruins that are even more decrepit than I am.

Here’s one you’ll love. Around age 11, I thought I had quite literally discovered my vocation, and I very briefly considered becoming a nun. Our local priest, astutely having recognized my rebellious spirit, quickly disabused me of this idea. Looking back on my life, that ship has certainly sailed. No matter how desperate the Catholic Church may be to augment the sisterhood, I will never hear them telling me to “get thee to a nunnery.”

Carpentry was on my radar, too. My father (an engineer by trade) was a licensed electrician and plumber, and he did part-time construction. We were a year-round family in a summer community, and the neighbors’ bungalows always needed work. As a youngster, I would tag along on his weekend projects. In college I took a woodworking class at Rhode Island School of Design. I was so clumsy that I continually ruined my projects just as they were almost finished. I wisely abandoned any idea of working in a shop environment. I have become clumsier with age, and my eyes are far from carpenter-worthy; so, that profession, too, is ruled out for my retirement.

Also at RISD, I started the fashion design program; my aunt was a sewer and I had tried my hand at making a few things. Unfortunately, clumsiness struck again, and I was never able to master the professional sewing machines run by foot pedals. The stitching on my seams, rather than stopping on point, ran on as with a mind of their own, over pockets and into facings. Perhaps newer machines are easier to use, but there’s still the eyesight issue. Fashion design may not be the best choice for me even now.

A related profession that I thought about was interior design. I took the program at the New York School of Interior Design at night. I was one project short of qualifying for my decorator card, when I transferred into marketing at Colgate and my work schedule exploded. It should be easy to finish that project once I retire. People probably don’t use decorators anymore; everyone is into do-it-yourself. But at least I can be clumsy and my eyes shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll put this one on my list of possibilities.

Along the way, I also considered being an attorney, given my argumentative nature and my ability to retain huge amounts of seemingly worthless information. However, if someone knows what buttons to push (and a good opposing attorney would,) I lose my temper (and my focus) easily. If I work behind the scenes, this field is still a possibility. I wonder how long it would take to get a degree in intellectual properties law?

I toyed with becoming a veterinarian, but I get so soppy when I see any animals in pain that I quickly put that notion aside. In harsh winters I shell nuts for the squirrels in case they’re too weak to crack them open. You’ll find a torn cushion on a piece of wicker on our porch. The squirrels are harvesting the stuffing to insulate their nests. There’s not much that's funnier than a squirrel carrying a wad of poly fluff that’s twice the size of his head.

I wonder if those squirrels can use someone to decorate their nests…

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