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Managers Vs. Makers in Retirement

In a 2009 essay that was very influential in business circles, Paul Graham of Y Combinator tried to figure out why workers at different levels of the same organization struggled to stay on the same meeting schedule. His conclusion was that you could break jobs down into two categories: Managers and Makers. Members of each group had very different responsibilities, and also very different ideas about how to use their time effectively.


Successful companies find a way to keep their Managers and Makers working together towards the company’s major goals. Let’s unpack the Manager and Maker mindsets and think about how each can help seniors improve Return on Life as they transition into retirement.


Managers: Stay in control.


Generally, Managers sit higher in a traditional company’s hierarchy. These team leaders and executives spend most of their time managing groups of people towards the completion of specific tasks. As they climb in an organization, Managers gain more control over their own time, and over how their direct reports use their time. Managers also tend to measure their successes by the collective achievements of the teams they’re directing.


It can be difficult for career Managers to let go of their high-level responsibilities in retirement. They may try to take control of more household activities and irritate their spouses in the process. Or they may start to feel like retirement has taken away their sense of purpose.


However, there are many ways for Managers to repurpose their skills and talents in retirement. Managers might start their own consulting firms, or mentor recent college graduates in their field. They might look for opportunities to sit on corporate boards or take part-time management positions at nonprofits and community organizations. Sports enthusiasts might coach youth teams. And entrepreneurs might invest in themselves and start their own dream companies.


Makers: Do more of what you love.


According to Graham, Makers often bristle at the meeting schedules that Managers set because all that talking gets in the way of doing. Whereas Managers often prioritize their time into 30-minute blocks, a Maker might set aside half a day to accomplish one or two key tasks, like coding part of a website or writing copy for a new marketing campaign. Part of that process might be long stretches of just thinking through a problem to find creative solutions. Anything that interrupts that process only makes it harder to finish the task at hand.


Makers may have an easier time filling up their new retirement schedules than Managers. As they assume more control of their calendars, Makers can devote more time to their craft. Retirement might be the time that a Maker finishes his novel, builds an innovative new software platform, or turns a crafting hobby into a full-time passion.


Makers can also spend more time contemplating and following their curiosity. Without the pressures of work deadlines and a career ladder, Makers might let their interests lead them to new hobbies, new sports, and new travel adventures.


Be the Boss of your retirement.


In your working days, you probably didn’t have as much career mobility or autonomy as you would have liked. But in retirement, you’re in control. If being a Manager isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be, you can pivot and spend more time on hobbies, relationships, and fitness. And if you get tired of being a Maker, promote yourself and start exploring new ways to manage your time.


Or, better yet, use our Ideal Week in Retirement tool to find a rewarding balance between Managing and Making every day. Schedule an appointment and we’ll show you how our interactive Life-Centered Planning process can help you manage and make more than just money.

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