Friday, May 22, 2015

Grit, or just stubborness?

I have become too much of a thinker. Having extra time on my hands, since I am no longer farming, I find myself thinking about things, trying to understand many of the long held beliefs that people become stuck in, in this life.

One of those beliefs is that farmers are supposed to be farmers until the day they die or they are not considered "true" farmers.  At least that is what I always used to believe.  What other occupation is out there that puts success at the level of needing to work 80 hours a week for 60 years.

 In researching why it is so hard for farmers to retire surveys revealed the following:

"When asked about what they would miss when they retire or semi-retire, the most common responses are connected with lifestyle, described in several different ways. Iowa, Wisconsin and Australian farmers all noted the loss of an active lifestyle, open spaces, and the independence that farming allowed them to experience (Baker and Epley 2009, Barclay 2006, Kirkpatrick 2009). Another element of loss mentioned in the Wisconsin study was the loss of control, with one farmer saying it would be hard to give up control. One respondent said that he would miss “….breathing” because he’ll be dead when he gives up farming, which is the embodiment of the “dying with your boots on” creed of many farmers worldwide." From http://agecon.okstate.edu/farmtransitions/files/Farmer%20Retirement%20Kirpatrick.pdf

After I decided to leave the industry, the response I received depended on the background of the person I was talking to.  From fellow farmers, in general, I would get a look of disappointment and asked, "so you quit, huh?". From non farmers, "you retired? Good for you. People retire from things all the time to do something else."  The first depicts failure, the second, at minimum,an acknowledgement that there is always a time to move on, and at best, a hearty congratulations on your past success, and encouragement for a bright future.

This was brought even clearer recently when a successful athlete decided to hang it up rather unexpectedly. I don't know him, I don't live in the area that his team played, I have never cheered for him.  What he said as his reason for leaving hit home anyway.  He said that the simple fact that he was thinking about his retirement, to him, meant it was time to move on.  I can appreciate that.

What I am having a hard time appreciating is people, for whatever reason, just won't move on.  We have all seen it, again, in athletes.  Just one more season, one more game, one more match, tournament, meet, and worst of all, fight.  I am sure it is the competitive spirit that drives most, but usually what happens is the throngs of adoring fans, who cheered the athlete so many times, just end up feeling sorry for them when they competed one time too many.  Instead of all the glory they should be remembered for, they are instead remembered for the beating they took.

The same can be said of us in our everyday lives.  I have heard it said about small business owners when they finally retire, or lose the business late in life. "They used to have such a thriving business."  Almost in pity.

I have come to the conclusion that I would rather change careers on my terms instead of my departure being dictated by something else.  Like the first athlete I mentioned, just the fact I was considering it probably meant it was time.

I realize you are wondering what any on this has to do with Meniere's disease. It has nothing, yet everything to do with it.  If you are at a point where you wish your life were less stressful, your career more fulfilling, perhaps it is time to look beyond just what you know.  You may not need a wholesale change, and certainly don't go quitting your jobs because of this, but maybe it is time to make some type of change. Further your education, get some type of accommodations at work, do something to change your perspective.  Life is too short to do what you have always done and be miserable. There really is no honor in "toughing it out."

'Til next time

Dennis

Just a guy trying to live with an invisible, potentially debilitating illness

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