Does Working Help You Live Longer?
“Sister André — the world's oldest person — has died at 118. She drank a glass of wine every day and credited her long life to working until she was 108.” Oh, and by the way, she also enjoyed a daily piece of chocolate, as reported by virtually every major media outlet.
“A woman after my own heart,” I thought to myself as I read about how she lived. And while the daily dose of wine and chocolate was a compelling aspect of her longevity trifecta, it was attributing her long life to working that prompted an audible, “AMEN SISTER!”
You see, not working is simply not part of my DNA. As far as I know, no one in my family ever retired…we work until we reach our expiration date. And I like it that way. Working makes me feel alive, and I intend to keep at it for as long as I have something of value to contribute. And there are many more of us out there than you might imagine.
Several years ago, I got a call from a stockbroker friend of mine who wanted to hire me to help her make a complete career change after
40 years in the same industry. “I’m done with finance, I don’t want to do it anymore,” she declared, “my last day is June 30th, I want to have a new job by July 5th, and I want you to rebrand me.”
Always up for a good challenge, I suggested we meet for lunch to discuss it. It was then I learned she was 81 years old – she had always seemed ageless to me, and still did.
“You know there is a gross misconception that people of a certain age no longer want or need to be paid for their work, and that is unacceptable,” she said. Long story short, we created a hybrid paid and volunteer work situation that satisfied her needs for this latest life stage, allowing time for her to continue taking ballet classes twice a week.
“Always do things because you want to, not because you should, otherwise the guilt will kill you!” –– Estelle Winwood
I’m reminded of a piece of wisdom I’ve carried with me since my early 20’s when I had the great good fortune to spend an afternoon with the legendary English actress Estelle Winwood in her Hollywood home (if you don’t know who she is click here.
In her late 90’s, she regally descended the staircase in full make-up, cigarette holder in hand, wearing a long, fluffy royal blue robe, said, “Dahling, come sit with me,” and proceeded to tell me she smoked three packs of cigarettes a day, drank several cocktails and had many lovers. “Always do things because you want to, not because you should, otherwise the guilt will kill you!” She lived to be 101.
Retirement has never been the pot of gold at the end of my personal rainbow, yet I appreciate that it is for many others…whatever brings you joy, I say. I work because I want to…not because I should!