Paul Butler | Are You Still Working? (Part 1)

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile
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It’s been a subtle and slow change, but I’ve noticed recently that some people rather than ask what I do instead ask if I am, indeed, still working. 

Just a couple of weeks ago we were walking our dog in the neighborhood and a younger couple were also out for a stroll. They asked me if I was still working. That’s the question.  

Just a few days ago at my gym, a new trainer I’d not met before also asked if I’m still working. There’s that question again.  

The trouble is, on the inside I still feel 27 but my external clock must be running 30 years fast as I just can’t tell the time.  

On one hand, I do still very much enjoy working and yet on the other, I see the finish line 12 years ahead. But do I want to run the race and then just stop? That’s another question I ask myself. 

I’ve decided I don’t want to retire in the traditional sense. For me personally, the game of life fills me with so much excitement, Lord willing, when retirement comes, I want to give myself to other meaningful projects without needing a paycheck. 

I love living where we live and I see so many ways I could be of even more service to others after we’re able to pass our business on to another. Serving (rather than sitting) on a board of directors for a local nonprofit or three has always appealed. I may even consider going back to school to take on a new vocation.  

My wife of nearly 30 years envisions me driving the local tourist bus as she knows how proud I am of our city and love sharing tidbits of information about its yesterdays, todays and tomorrows.  

I ran the idea of me being a crossing guard by her. She warns against it as she thinks I’d be too distracted chatting to people and wouldn’t pay enough attention to oncoming traffic to help protect the little ones in my charge. She has a point — I am a bit chatty. I just love people. 

All this to say, “What about you? Are you still working?” If you are, have you started to hear that question yet — “Are you still working?” If not, just know you will. It’s coming. 

We’ve all heard sad stories of people whose primary identity was from their work and when the work stopped, they also seemed to slow, then stop. If you have already retired, how do you, or could you, still be of service to others? How could you offer your words of wisdom to those younger than you? What fills you with excitement, especially now that your schedule is more open? 

The Good Book never talks of retirement but rather a transition of work duties and I like that idea. I see retirement as another phase in life, where we can each use our gifts, skills and abilities to be of service to others.  

You could provide care for elderly neighbors or family members, volunteer at your church, a pregnancy center, homeless shelter or school. The opportunities are endless and are only limited by your creativity. 

As I look at people ahead of me who are retired and still actively in service to others, I sense an effervescence about them. They have a vitality that passes all understanding and a sparkle in their eyes that is just so beautiful and very endearing.  

It seems to me that whether we’re still working or not, we have a choice to be of continued service or think we should continue to be served by others. Great employees see themselves as servants. Great leaders are servant-leaders. Great organizations are clear on who they serve. 

It’s beginning to dawn on me that, as I gaze toward the coming sunset of life, the plumb line of choice is if we have a spirit to serve. That is, are we still working at being of good and useful service? 

So now I get to ask you, “Are you still working?”  

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]. 

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