When it’s all said and done, are you proud?

My mother is retiring today. They made a sign for her that said, “Thank You for 20 Years of School BBQs!” It was so thoughtful. Loads of people signed it. It was touching and I was impressed how many people cared and came to the party. But I actually thought it was 29 years of BBQs. I asked her. It was 29 years.

[quote]Do it for them and it’ll keep you up at night. Do it for you and it’ll get you up in the morning.[/quote]

T-w-e-n-t-y n-i-n-e years. She worked at the school for 35 years. The banner said 20 years or 9 years less than she actually did. Nine years forgotten, missed, unaccounted for. Does it matter? It’s just a banner. Who knows who actually wrote the number. It’s not like she didn’t get paid those years, didn’t get the respect she deserved as a teacher during those years. Not at all.

But I took that tiny mention of a mistake in recognition and was reminded that at the end of the day, who cares? Do your colleagues care? Does your boss? Your company? Even your partner? I suppose the question is what do they care about and what do you care that they care? So who really cares? Hopefully your family, your spouse, your kids. In the end, there’s only one person who truly cares, who deeply needs to have the respect and the admiration for what you’ve done. Unless I’m mistaken, that person is you.

Make decisions based on how you’ll value those decisions many years from now.

Maybe this is a simplistic perspective. Maybe I’m missing something. But I see a banner that says 20 and I see a woman who’s done 29. There are 9 years. That’s the entire lifetime of my son. It’s a long time. Who cares about those 9 years? You do. Who cares more? No one.

Who do you need to please at the end of the day? Who needs to be happy, respected, and proud? You.

We’re not looking for recognition on that last day, retirement day. We’re looking for recognition (and respect and admiration) for every day leading up to that day. The last day is icing. The previous days are cake. Icing is nice. Cake is 92% of it. Even for that 92% of time before those last days, who gives you the respect and admiration and acknowledgement that you need on a daily basis? You.

How can you make that happen? You can do it for them, but you also need to do it for you. It’s your thing, it’s your career, your passion, your life. They have their lives and passions. You have yours. At the end of the day, at the end of 35 years, it’s yours. When they miss 9 years, it shouldn’t matter because you didn’t do it for them. You did it for you.

  • Possible: work for 35 years as a school teacher. 
  • Impossible: work for 35 years and expect proportionate recognition from others.
  • Repossible: work for 35 years and have pride in what you’ve accomplished.
Make decisions based on how you'll value those decisions many years from now. At the end of the day, you need to do it for you.

Make decisions based on how you’ll value those decisions many years from now. At the end of the day, you need to do it for you.