Finding Meaning in Your Work

What will they say about you at the end of your career?

Yesterday I was watching a movie titled About Schmidt starring Jack Nicholson. He plays Warren Schmidt who is retiring from his position as an actuary with a life insurance company. After his retirement dinner, Schmidt finds it hard to adjust to his new life, feeling useless with no sense of purpose. Schmidt later visits his young successor at the life insurance company to offer his help, but the offer is politely declined. As he leaves the building, Schmidt sees the contents and files of his office, the sum of his entire career, set out for the garbage collectors.

Then his wife dies, and Schmidt is overcome by loneliness. He stops showering, sleeps in front of the television, and goes shopping with a coat over pajamas to load up on frozen foods. Schmidt questions what he has accomplished in life, lamenting that he will soon be dead, that his life has made no difference to anyone, and eventually it will be as if he has never existed at all. He has lost all sense of meaning when the roles and people who had supported his sense of self are removed. He is left an empty shell of a person and finds he cares about nothing.

Pretty sad, isn’t it? It could serve as a wake up call for anyone that feels like they are stuck in rut working years in a job or organization that provides no real satisfaction, let alone joy. This film, and a book titled Something to Live For — Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life by Richard Leider and David Shapiro made me ask myself, “What will they say about me at the end of my career?”.

If you can relate to this and wonder where you’re headed, and if the trip is worth it, I invite you to take some alone time in a quiet place and think deeply about what it is you really want your legacy to be as it relates to your work when the time comes to retire or you just can’t go on. Here are a few questions to get you started:

- What will they say about you at the end of your career?

- What are your gifts?

- Why were you put on this planet?

- How can you live an authentic life of purpose and meaning?

- How can you balance your work & personal lives w/ vitality & joy?

- What keeps you from enjoying the psychic salary you crave?

Frank Manfre



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Frank Manfre

Frank Manfre

Business consultant & coach w/ 35 years experience in leadership roles in for profit and nonprofit organizations focused on developing leaders & org health