No Drama After Retirement: Really?

One of the most disturbing things I hear from an executive is when a leader wants to fire an employee but can’t because the person is two years from retirement. It tells me the employee is no longer engaged, or has been allowed to continue to work even though there has been very little productivity and very little passion.

Or perhaps there was once a purpose, but it has been lost.

From a more personal perspective, it disturbs me for the employee just riding it out waiting for retirement, instead of finding a way to break-through the cultural drama to live life more fully and engage in their work.

There’s a common response to one of the questions I ask participants when doing a retreat or workshop:

Question: What would make your work more rewarding?
Answer: If it was my retirement date.

The belief I hear in that statement is, Once I retire, I’ll have no more drama.
(On the other hand the executive also thinks, “Once I fire this individual there will be no more workplace drama,” but that’s another article for another day.)

Back to the topic at hand: The belief that when you retire you will be drama-free.

You may escape a dysfunctional culture.
You may escape a co-worker you don’t like.
You may escape an incompetent boss.
You may escape a dull job.
You may escape a routine that has become a prison.

But you will never escape you.

You still have to negotiate with other people.
You still have to live either on purpose or without purpose.
You still have to get up every day and decide who you are going to be.

If in your current environment you have problems  handling your anger, failing to set boundaries, not speaking up, or getting your feelings hurt, you’ll still have these same problems when you retire. The environment may change but the drama returns. Instead of the problem being your boss, it will be your daughter-in-law,  the government, your spouse, or your neighbor.

Once you retire, you’ll replace today’s drama with some other type of drama:

  • Boredom
  • Lack of structure
  • Lack of life purpose
  • Family relationship issues
  • Disappointments
  • Unfairness
  • Anger
  • Misunderstandings

If you are nearing retirement age why put yourself in a powerless position by spending two years hating your job and waiting for one day when there will be no drama?

Life is now.  Reclaim your power. Now is the perfect time for an attitude adjustment, for mending fences, for taking a breath, for deciding to show up as the person you really are meant to be.

Two years before retirement is the perfect time to clean up any dysfunctional patters so that you can truly step into a more enlightened way of living for the next leg of the journey.

 Marlene-Blk4Marlene Chism is an executive educator, consultant, and author of Stop Workplace Drama, (Wiley 2011) and No-Drama Leadership (Bibliomotion 2015). She works with executives, and high-performing leaders who want to transform culture in the workplace. To explore opportunities please email