Over the Labor Day weekend, a frequent comment I heard from friends and family was, “Where did the summer go?” During the long winter months everyone looks ahead with anticipation to the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day.
Then the July 4th holiday sneaks up on us and in the blink of an eye
it’s Labor Day. It seems like summer comes and goes in about the time it
takes to walk the five miles across the Mackinac Bridge.
The purpose of Labor Day, of course, is to salute the American
workforce. And my, how the workforce has changed since President
Cleveland signed the law enacting Labor Day in 1894.
According to the Department of Labor, there were nearly 18 million
American workers in unions in 1983. In 2014 the number of union members
had fallen to just over 14.5 million.
As with so many things in our society, people tend to have very strong
opinions one way or another about unions. As the auto unions are about
to begin contract negotiations we’ll be hearing plenty of passionate
opinions, both pro- and anti-union.
I believe that, regardless of union status, American workers are
essentially dedicated and hardworking. That being said, I wonder just
how many Americans like or enjoy their work.
Without question, the makeup of the workforce and the nature of many
jobs in our nation have changed dramatically over the years. Rosie the
Riveter during World War II began the influx women into the workforce.
More recently, service sector jobs and technology have dramatically
changed the atmosphere and character of a typical workday. In other
words, there are no typical workers or typical jobs.
Since Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of the
school year, I encourage students to study with the objective of
graduating with more than just a job. Work toward finding a field that
is rewarding both financially and emotionally.
Find something you’re passionate about and that you’ll love doing day
after day. I have encountered many people who are counting the days
until they can retire and do something they’ll truly enjoy.
I was recently talking to a retired auto executive client who is
passionate about his Corvettes and Corvette Club activities. He was
surprised to learn I grew up in an automotive family and my high school
and college job was buffing out automobiles.
It was great experience. I liked it, the money was decent and I learned a
thing or two. But it was just a job, not a career. Not something I
would want to do for 30 or 40 years.
I’ve been extremely fortunate for many years. As a financial adviser,
I’m just as enthusiastic about my career as my client is with his
Corvette Club. In other words, my work is my passion.
Life, like summer, is over much too soon. If you can find an enjoyable
career to make a living, great! A workday does not have to be dull or
Labor Day is an American tradition and a well-earned day off. People get
up and go to work every day. As you study and prepare for the
workforce, try to do everything you can to put yourself in a position
where your work is your passion.