It’s been 3-1/2 years since I downshifted to part-time work, and people often ask me why I continue to work at all. (These are usually people who have already retired and, I think, are looking for someone to play with—and by that I mean lunches, shopping, visiting.) My answer always begins with “There are three good reasons I’m still working.” At that point, those who asked just to be polite are starting to regret the effort.
Here are my three top reasons, not necessarily in order of importance. And, with luck, I’ll think of a fourth by the time I’m done.
1) I love the income stream. Not only am I receiving an hourly wage for my 21 hours per week (although no vacation, illness, or holiday pay), but the company is still contributing to my retirement account—and still allowing me to add my own funds to the supplemental retirement account. That’s golden, even “bleeping” golden… (sorry, Chicagoland readers; I’ve heard the Blago tapes so often, I’ve picked up the lingo).
With the up and down stock markets, the on-again, off-again recession, and just plain old uncertainly, I like the fact that I can bring in money almost as fast as I can spend it.
2) I enjoy the work, most of the time. I get to be imaginative in my approach to marketing natural gas industry training and conferences, and it's delightfully challenging. I write a monthly e-newsletter and the copy for our brochures, catalogs, ads, and web site and have a lot of creative freedom.
There are always tasks I don’t much care for, but they’re usually short-term. I can also turn down a high level of responsibility for an ongoing task I don’t like. When “but I’m only here three days a week” doesn’t get me out of it, mumbling “Maybe I’ll retire” usually does.
3) I love my colleagues. Or, I very much like most of them, but I truly love some of them. I enjoy gossiping with them, hearing their after-work stories, and, especially, telling my own day-off stories. And when it comes to the women, I like to see what they’re wearing. Most important of all, they’re fun to work with.
I haven’t yet thought of a solid fourth reason, but I do believe that if I were not working those three days, I would sleep too much, watch too much TV, shop way over my budget, and more often grab my husband’s iTouch to waste another hour playing Boggle.