My grandfather was an important executive at an important steel company until he retired, moved to Florida, and, within a few years, smoked and drank himself to death.
I have a childhood friend who has so much family money that he doesn't have to work. And he doesn't work, but fills his days with hobbies. He seems happy enough, and I'm happy for him. But I feel jumpy in his company, the way the captain of a boat at anchor would feel beside a boat adrift.
A small-company owner I was talking to recently declared himself an unapologetic workaholic. The workplace, he pointed out, is a "pretty stable social environment" that joins you with others in a common purpose every day. What else does that?
A family member just quit his job at the age of 52 and is trying to figure out what he wants to do next. He looks scared.
I'm not saying we ought to sit around feeling grateful for the work we have—that's like wasting precious time cultivating a feeling of gratitude for one's health—but I think it's good to acknowledge the importance of our work to our well-being, and make career decisions (whatever those are) accordingly.