Reinvention – A Personal Story

Many of us dream of what it would be like to wake up one day and do something entirely different (and…I don’t mean doing the same sort of job with a different logo and address). I’m talking about a role unlike anything you’ve ever done. For some, it’s a mid-life crisis that forces us to think about the true meaning of life. Why are we here? For others, it’s a forced lay-off or downsizing event that forces their hand. But for most, it’s the same role year after year.

I’d like to share a personal story about a healthcare professional I know very well who has been down the reinvention track multiple times and even today -retired – she’s still in a state of perpetual reinvention. I’m talking about some pretty big, pretty amazing career swings! I should know –I’ve watched her in all of her new endeavors for decades. Literally.

This amazing healthcare professional started her career in nursing after graduating from The Medical University of South Carolinahere in Charleston, SC. She married, had eight sons and then transitioned into a (very full time) career as a parent. Eight kids – I can’t even begin to imagine handling that! She continued on her multi-decade, globetrotting nursing career, moving from Columbia, SC to Wurzburg, Germany to Panama City, Panama and later to Baltimore, Maryland, and finally settling in Eastern Tennessee –making many changes along the way, of course. During those years, she decided to fulfill a life-long aspiration to serve and became a Catholic Sister (a whole other story which would take too long to cover). After traveling all over the world in this role (including multiple visits to Calcutta, India), she established shelters for abused young women across the continental US and Alaska. But was she done? No – not her! It was time for a new career. So, after retirement from nursing and her volunteer work as a Sister, it was time to launch yet another new endeavor.

This brilliant woman – still full of life – embarked on a career that most of us just dream about. Get this: She cruises all over the world working in ships’ infirmaries. In the past year she’s been all over the US and traveled to Eastern Europe, Rome, London, Peru, Florence, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Cairo, Jordan and other places that most of only wish we could cross off our bucket list! I’m amazed at her energy and brilliance! She turns 78 years young this year, and called me a few weeks ago to let me know she would be out of the country on a 32-day European cruise. 32 days?! Pretty cool, huh? What a life she has – she has definitely figured it out. I’m envious.

Most of you would call her an amazing woman, and she is, but I prefer to call her Mom. I am so proud of her and the life she has led. She redefined the term “reinvention”, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a front row seat. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Nice Job!

Hey- Mr. CIO: When Are You Retiring?

Most executives (that would be you) start their career with plans to eventually retire and enjoy the fruits of their many years of hard work. For some leaving the hospital when the clock strikes midnight on their 65th birthday that was always the plan. Right? Not any more. Let’s regroup shall we?

Things have changed a bit. 401K plans have been hit hard (ok – killed) and many executives that were planning to retire at 62 or 65 years of age have had a change of heart (or is that change in projected cash flow?) While this dynamic may seem somewhat depressing for some of us – I think delayed retirement is real and much more realistic than we want to believe.

In a recent survey done by a whopping 46% of executives polled have already made that decision. They are planning to delay retirement given a variety of circumstances in today’s economic environment. Of those polled only 8% plan to retire as planned! WOW! That is an amazing statistic if you step back for a moment and think about it. Get this – of the 8% of those planning to check out on time – half of that group are completely unaffected by the current economic environment while the other half will just retire with less.

Announcement: My favorite stat (love it). One-fifth of the executives polled have no plans to retire at all! Please include me in that number as well. No plans whatsoever! I think that is absolutely amazing and pretty cool. My (Irish born) dad (God rest his soul) had lots of Irish sayings. One of my favorites: “when you are green you’re growing and when you are ripe you begin to die”. I think there is more to that now than ever before.

Many of these same executives had a very solid plan to check out in their early 60’s but now they feel that age 70 is much more realistic. All I can say is that if you make the decision to continue working many years beyond age 60 you will have plenty of company. AND… unless I’m missing something when you really look at the demographic trends – your talents will be needed as healthcare IT (everywhere) will have a major shortage of skilled healthcare executives to lead hospital IT organizations

So… when are you planning to power down your desktop for the last time? That decision is totally up to you. But if you want to keep active in the workplace beyond your early 60’s – that will certainly be a very realistic option.