Last week my Facebook feed was filled with pictures of Bruce Springsteen performing. He played at Wrigley Field and seemingly everyone I know went to see him. Everyone commented on his energy level and the hours he performed without taking a break. 

As I write this, Bruce Springsteen is 73 years old. 

I found myself thinking, I’ll bet nobody asks him when he’s going to stop playing

Well, maybe some people close to him ask him when he plans to stop tourning, but it doesn’t look like he will be fading away anytime soon. He loves what he is doing and his fans love seeing him do it. 

We generally don’t ask musicians and artists and other creatives when they are going to retire, as we might a corporate professional. We assume, at least I do, that creatives will continue doing the thing they enjoy until they can’t do it anymore.

But what about small business owners or startup founders? They make the rules and can potentially call the shots. Do we ask them when they plan to retire? 

We might ask a fast-growth startup founder when they are planning to exit their business. After that, they may decide to grow another company because they love doing that, or they might want to take their knowledge and mentor other startups through an accelerator. 

Or, they may take an advisory role at some company with equity. 

And you frequently hear about family-owned businesses where the senior members of the family stay in place for as long as possible. 

I wonder why corporate employees have the carrot of retirement dangled in front of them for much of their career. I have some college friends who had the goal of retiring early. One retired in his 40s. I am not sure that was such a great idea for someone like him. He did some board of directors work after he retired, but I got the sense that he was bored. 

If your work situation isn’t something you like, it is a very understandable goal to try to leave. However, if you like your work and your identity is tied to your profession or business, you may want to continue doing what you’re doing for as long as you can. 

Maybe a goal worth pursuing is finding some kind of work that feels valuable to you, work where you are learning and growing and contributing. That could be doing anything – being a musician or artist or growing a business.

P.S. – If you’re at a point where you are thinking through your work / life situation or are envisioning your “third third,” as I like to call it, consider joining me for my Recalibrate half-day workshop on Saturday, September 16. Learn more here

Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash