Boomers: Let go of the joyless job stuff

After a year of high tension, BoomerCafé is offering up not just fresh stories, but some of our “best of” pieces from the past.

We got this lighthearted essay in 2018 from Lucinda Trew of Weddington, North Carolina, in which she identified a problem that many boomers have faced, or will soon face: What do you do with all the “stuff” you accumulated over the course of a career?!?

What do you do with all the stuff?

The stuff of offices and overtime.

The stuff you stuff into cardboard boxes when you’re done — remnants and reminders of a work life well spent.

As my fellow Boomers retire in droves, it’s a question worth pondering, particularly since we’re the demographic that has spawned a thriving, alarming ‘help for hoarders’ industry.

So, what to do?

Let’s start with the easy stuff. There’s plenty to recycle, of course. I recommend a gleeful bin-tossing binge, accompanied if you’re so inclined by mojitos and a blazing bonfire: the safety handbooks, the duty rosters, mission statements, proxy statements and benefit enrollment booklets. Heave-ho!

Then there’s the stuff you’re proud of — the strutable, yet expungable stuff. Project plans that went according to plan. Reports that were read. Presentations that impressed. I find that a rich pinot noir pairs well with the sorting. Swirl, sniff, savor — and raise the glass to YOU, champion of spreadsheets, killer deals, and quarterly reports.

Lucinda Trew

Progressing to your closet, and the suits and ties, wingtips and pumps that defined your dress-for-success, expanding-waistline years: Purge and repurpose. Give to Goodwill, Second Chances, new grads preparing for interviews. You may not have as many grateful takers as you thought though’ casual Fridays aren’t limited to Fridays anymore. Wash any disappointment down with a mango/kale/chia seed smoothie. You are, after all, in your closet, taking stock of what fits and what doesn’t. And you have a whole new wardrobe to shop for.

There’s probably a drawerful of logo-emblazoned golf shirts, tees, jackets, sweatshirts, and fleece vests. These are good for gardening, cleaning the gutters, or gifting to the local Men’s Shelter. Pop a cold one for this chore — Pabst or Bud, none of that hipster craft swill.

The hardest by far is what to do with the stuff that’s purely just stuff. You know what I’m talking about: the trinkets and tchotchkes. The dust-gathering gegaws given to mark time, tenure, triumph, and teamwork.

Might I suggest Zima as the beverage of choice for dusting and dispersing with your rows and walls of corporate knickknacks? Pale, vapid, and with the merest hint of P.R. fizz, Zima seems a fitting complement for clearing out office curios.

Letting go is never easy. But you can’t bring it all home. Take it from one who’s been-there-done-that: the boxes of business work stacked in your garage will mildew long before you ever open them. So do yourself a favor: lighten the load NOW. You’re going to have stuff to unwrap that’s a whole lot more fun.

Retirements, planned or unplanned, are rift with mixed emotions. So, it probably won’t surprise you that my corporate-clutter-clearing advice (slash bar menu) comes with a caveat. There are, in fact, a few things you should hold onto: Accrued vacation time. Stock options. COBRA benefits. Friendships. The warm glow of good work and good times.

The rest? Let it go!

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