Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 42: couples and family considerations 7

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on March 15, 2017

This is my 42nd installment to a series on intentionally entered into, fundamental job and career path change, and on best practices for deciding both when and how to carry through on it (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 416 and following for Parts 1-41.) And I have been focusing here on work and career planning as they take place in larger contexts than just the individual, since Part 36.

I began shifting this line of discussion from a “simplest” baseline couples-only context, to include consideration of a wider range of family members in Part 40 and Part 41. And after briefly and selectively considering a set of common scenarios that arise in this larger context, I ended that phase of this narrative by noting that I would turn here to step back from precisely how wide a range of family has to be included here when considering the longer-term per se.

More specifically, I said that I would consider the wider narrative of this series, and particularly as I have been developing it from Part 29: retiring, and phasing out of work as a work-life transition 1, in terms of “long-term and immediate-crisis, health and other life changing events.” I said at the end of Part 41 that I would primarily focus on the couples level for this here, and I will more explicitly write at that level at least as a starting point. But the issues that I raise here involve and impact on how we face and address wider-ranging family issues and challenges too, in our work, career and life planning.

I begin by referring back to a set of basic foundational postings from my early writings to this blog on jobs and careers, that has come up repeatedly in this series too. In effect, my entire Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development connects together as a single ongoing narrative, even if it is one that delves into a range of alternative types of career paths. Tools that I offer and discuss as of use earlier in a work life can and do, in many cases come back as relevant later on too. In this case, I make note of a tool that comes back into relevance at essentially any possible career turning point, from work-life beginning to ending: the constraints box as a planning tool. See:

Structuring an Effective Elevator Pitch (where I first define the term constraints box) and
Job Search and Your Constraints Box (and also see two immediately related postings that can also be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, as its postings 25 and 26.)

The fundamental point that I would raise here when citing these postings again, is the complex of issues of knowing when and how to evolve and update your individual constraints box, and your and your spouse’s combined constraints box as that is explicitly considered in this series in its Part 37: couples and family considerations 2.

And I couch this posting and its narrative, in terms of an approach that I have offered and delved into fairly extensively in this blog – in a business strategy and operations planning and execution context, and particularly where I have focused on due diligence and risk management-based approaches to understanding and responding to change. I have noted in that context that change can in effect creep up on you, and even for what would with time become severely challenging adverse change. And this type of change can arise in either your circumstances or in your capacity to flexibly, effectively function within them and even in both.

• A change and even what in retrospect was an adverse pattern of it that has offered warning signs, can be overlooked and ad hoc worked around, through unconsidered adherence to a business as usual approach, until a tipping point is reached and it seems to suddenly erupt as if a new and disruptive challenge. True disruptive challenges that suddenly arise and without being predictable or anticipatable do happen too, but severe challenges that only come to be understood in the retrospect of after the fact analysis and review are commoner: the ones that in retrospect could have and should have been seen coming and that could have been either limited or prevented.
• And both of these patterns of challenge can and do in our own planning and its ongoing execution too, and in our job and career planning and in how we carry it out.

I have, in other series at least briefly noted how people who find themselves blindsided by a sudden workplace downsizing, often in retrospect have to admit that there were warning signs out there that this might happen – warning signs that for whatever reason they did not pick up on and begin to Plan B prepare for, just in case. In a more end of career and end of work life context, it becomes that much more pressing that you think plan and prepare and as proactively as possible – and even when that means looking directly at what you would most want to avoid, and even at that which you would most fear to see actually arise. People early in their careers might have time to reorient and make up for lost ground, and in planning and in longer-term investing for their future and more. When you are fast approaching or even entering retirement, you do not have the luxury of time in the same way – unless of course you can and are willing to simply defer retiring until still older and until you might no longer be able to do the things that you have planned and dreamed of doing in retirement that you have held as being most important to you.

I am writing this at least in large part in terms of a couple’s retirement scenario and absent the further complications and complexities of having to expend time, financial resources, and effort – and other limited assets through a larger circle of commitment. As immediately preceding installments in this phase of this series indicates, those complications can enter in too – and I add either slowly and without being acknowledged or prepared for, or suddenly and catastrophically.

• How can you prepare for this and with the resiliency that you would need? Plan for and live within your means – and that means within the available sustainable limitations that you face financially and for any other consideration that you might see as representing a crucially limited resource. And certainly for your financial reserves, develop and carry through on your combined constraints box-based plans as discussed in Part 37 here, with a built in extra reserves cushion included and adhered to – and not just because an economic downturn can make the value of your long-term retirement investments and related assets fall. Unexpected costs and challenges can arise too, that would force you to eat into those reserves in unexpected ways and at an unexpected pace.
• And if you do face significant challenge here, maintain your flexibility and resiliency by reprioritizing what you would do in retirement, staying within the comfortable-to-you range of your combined constraints box as possible, but doing so more selectively in what you do within it. What in your combined constraints box is in fact still important, and most important to you now and what might you see as more downgraded in importance as you review all of this from a new perspective? I have raised this question already in this series and reprise it for further consideration here too.
• And then if you need to, ask yourself what aspects of your constraints box requirements are more dispensable, and to both you and your spouse or life partner, and how and why. Where can you most comfortably step out of a part of your earlier planning and what of it can you set aside as no longer important enough to try to force? What can you do instead that would still bring you a sense of meaning and value and that you could find satisfaction and even happiness in? Look for new positives if you have to relinquish some of your grip on older ones. No, this is not easy and it can even involve going through something or a mourning process – but it is one you can come into the light from again if you keep looking and keep moving forward through all of this. And yes, this can at times seem to have become an “all of this.” But that does not always have to be so in reality and in the reality that you can achieve.

Most of us do not see anything like that worst case scenario. And yes, I set up those three bullet points in something of a best case to worst case order and for a reason. Growing older is not for wimps and neither is the sometimes disruptive life change of retirement. But people can and do succeed and thrive in them and even when they have to face adversity in the process – and the third bullet point contingencies that I just noted above.

I am going to turn in my next series installment to in effect reconsider some of the basic issues raised in this series as a whole, in light of my overall progression of sub-series and sub-narratives that I have been developing here. I have written of a number of separate and perhaps seemingly unrelated challenges and opportunities here, but they do have commonly held issues running through them. My goal in for the next posting to this series is not going to be to summarize all that I have written about here as to offer a more general perspective on career, and life planning that is grounded in the types of situations, scenarios, challenges and opportunities that I have been separately and variously looking into here. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.


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