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What You Will Miss About Your Career – It’s Not the Work

08/09/2023 Written by: Kristine Simmons

Since 1938, researchers at Harvard University have continued a long-term study about what makes people happy. They began by gathering health records at two-year intervals from 724 people from around the world.1

As the study continued and participants reached mid- and later life, the questionnaires often asked about retirement. Based on these responses, the researchers discovered that the number one challenge people faced in retirement was not being able to replace the social connections that had sustained them at work.

When one participant was asked what he missed about being a doctor for nearly 50 years, he answered, "Absolutely nothing about the work itself. I miss the people and the friendships."

Writing about the study for CNBC, psychiatry professor Robert Waldinger, MD, and research director Marc Shulz, PhD, both at Harvard, said that our work environment and our tendency to focus on the task at hand can cause us to miss the importance of our connections with colleagues. "We are often shrouded in financial concerns and the pressures of deadlines," they wrote, "so we don't notice how significant our work relationships are until they're gone."

Ellen Freund, a former university administrator, told the study, "When I look back, I wish I paid more attention to the people and less to the problems. I loved my job. But I think I was a difficult and impatient boss. I guess, now that you mention it, I wish I got to know everyone a little better." What we can learn from this, according to Waldinger and Shulz, is twofold.

           1. While you're in your career, appreciate the people you work alongside. There will come a time when you        

               will likely miss their camaraderie.

          2. Because it's difficult to maintain those connections, as you plan for retirement also plan for new kinds of

              "work" where you can build relationships with people.

Money alone can't bring happiness. So just as you are investing in your financial nest egg, you should also be investing in the long-term relationships that bring lasting fulfillment. 

1. http://go.pardot.com/e/91522/t-that-no-one-talks-about-html/93h68c/2002989016?h=W8S7jEtFy_e5n-bEzBIqjoBzqwQa1MmlBk6K-mv9iUg

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