It's something we'd all choose to do soon rather than later, if given the financial stability.
If we work hard while we’re young to build fruitful, thriving empires grown from our passions, hopefully we can retire somewhere in the hills of Malibu while we’re still fabulous and functioning. That’s the plan, right?
“But wait. Hold up. I’ve barely gotten my career started. How can I think about retiring when I haven’t even got a penny for a 401k? ” I know the majority of you reading this are probably currently in college, recent graduates, or twenty-somethings like myself with only a few short years of ‘career’ experience, wondering how a retirement discussion can even be relevant. I’m in the same boat -- I’ve barely scratched the surface on my career.
However, seeing two very special women so gracefully say goodbye to their long years of work life left me forward thinking about how I want to shape my own...
The two retirement parties my office recently held for these women, have been some of the most momentous days for me at work so far.
The first retiring was a sales director who’d worked for our company (a luxury cruise line) for 20 years, and who has been responsible for a good chunk of its success. I enjoyed sitting just outside her office; hearing her booming but friendly voice as she handled business and, at times, held loving conversations with her dear mother. She always greeted me with a smile, and often with a compliment to my outfit, which felt honoring coming from one of the most fabulously dressed women in the office. With a style that suggested a mix of upscale resort wear and summery, relaxed business casual, I definitely noted her professional California flair as #goals for an older me.
Then most recently arrived my boss’s retirement. An equally fashionable public relations extraordinaire with a spunky personality who has invested 18 years to our company, she has also been a key figure for its success.
As a marketing major, I wasn’t expecting my first full time job out of college to be in PR, but working in the field under this woman for even just a few months had been an extremely beneficial learning experience.
We’d decorated our largest conference room with printed storyline narratives and tons of her photos throughout the years, on our company’s cruises and in countries all over the map. Her bright smile and warm personality shined through in each one. Her journeys portrayed a lust-worthy blend of work + travel life that led her throughout French vineyards, Italian cathedrals, and across many seas. She indeed enjoyed a rich life that cascaded so fluently into the effort she put towards her job.
In addition to her worldwide collection of momentos, we’d pinned up countless letters sent in by many of her colleagues -- journalists she’s accommodated on cruises, travel agents, media and PR professionals, and more. A similar compilation was collected for the previous retirement celebration, except the heartfelt words were expressed in video form. The outpour of acknowledgement and gratitude for these ladies’ years of service was tremendous.
Letter after letter, video after video, countless messages varied in prose, but had all communicated parallel sentiments for both:
‘Your level of professionalism in this industry is unmatched,’ ‘You are a wonderful testament of excellence,’ ‘You’ve given my family memories that cannot be replicated,’ ‘This company would not be where it is today without you.’ Perhaps one of my favorites to read about my boss -- ‘You are the queen of PR. You demonstrated how to get the job done elegantly, with a touch of personal friendship. I had an unforgettable Mediterranean trip with you & [your husband]… We then met again in Hong Kong 2 years later, like long lost friends.’
It was really moving to observe the sincere feelings they’d impressed on those who’d worked with them for years. I mean, I teared up just watching them tear up. They’d touched so many individuals -- Brazilian, Chinese, British, etc -- around all corners of the world.
Both of these ladies displayed such admirable charisma and charm without ever missing a beat. I can only hope to mature as gracefully.
Times have changed. Our generation isn’t known for sticking around at one company for longer than a few years. I can’t say how long I plan on working at this company, or for anyone else’s company on that note. I can’t say I’m going to shape my career the exact same way, or dedicate decades of my life to a particular organization. Because, well, I truly plan to work for myself in the future.
What I can say, is that when it is time for me to kick back into retirement and hand over the reins, I want to leave a similar impact that my colleagues did.
I left home and came to Los Angeles to become inspired and awakened -- to nurture my calling. I’m soaking up the many sources of motivation California offers and using them to fuel my need to succeed along this brand new journey.
I want to make a difference. I want to extend a level of affability that goes beyond basic professionalism. Oh but the professionalism. I want to be so good at what I do that people cheerfully recommend and enjoy working with me. I want to collaborate with diverse talents, to enjoy what I do, and to work with others who enjoy what they do as well. Supremely, I want to help people lead more enriched lives. I want to traverse the globe, to make connections and build relationships with individuals as far as Asia and Australia. I want to contribute in some significant way to the fulfillment of people’s dreams…
And it all starts with right now. Thinking towards the future helps me progress in the present. Luckily, I had a stellar boss to learn from for these months, and I’m glad that my new company has exemplary leaders all around. Even though I’m a “baby,” as my boss would say, I still think about the overall vision I want for my career -- probably more than anything else. I’m setting out to make Los Angeles mine and to design a vibrant, meaningful existence as I explore this newness. I hope I never lose sight of my mission, a strong sense of integrity, or the path that leads to the distant retirement with a bang.
When it's all said and done, how do you want to be celebrated at your retirement?
- article originally published on fromawildflower.com