Retire from What?

Have you given any thought to what you want to do when you retire?

Recently I was asked what I want to do when I retire.

My response: 

Retire from what?

I mean, dream job, dream life, helping other leaders live and lead authentically.  I can’t imagine ever choosing to walk away from this.

The concept of retirement is something I’ve pondered for quite some time, probably in large part because I was a pension benefits consulting actuary.

And I wasn’t pondering it from the perspective of “I can’t wait ‘til I retire someday”. 

More along the lines of…let me make sure I understand this correctly.  So I work for a company until I’m 65, get a few weeks off a year to enjoy along the way, and then hopefully be healthy enough and have enough money to enjoy a few years before old age sets in?

Not for me.

So all along I thought, there has to be a different model.

But first, a little something from one of the modern greats.

Warren Buffett Wisdom

One of my favorite Warren Buffet interviews makes a case for doing what you love doing now.

While he doesn’t address the concept of retirement in the interview, wanting to continue doing more of what you love is a natural progression. 

In the interview, he described a conversation he had with a young professional about career planning.  In it, he asked:

“Well, when are you going to start doing what you like?” 

And the young professional said: “Well, I’ll get to that someday.” 

Warren responds, “Well you know, your plan sounds to me a lot like saving up sex for your old age. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.  But it really is true.  Many people completely forgo happiness and fulfillment in the short term for some uncertain future payoff, which oftentimes never comes.  

It’s not about crafting a linear plan there, and it’s not about curating a resume that you think will look good from the outside.  

The key is to do what feels good from the inside.

While the interview isn’t about retirement, the direct tie-in is that wanting to do more of what you love flows naturally, and that can extend well into old age.  Why not?

The Path to Doing What You Love Isn’t Always Linear

While the path to doing what you love is sometimes linear, it doesn’t have to be.  

My path to doing what I’m doing has been anything but linear.

I’m actually a math geek by background.  I was an actuarial science major (lots of math and stats) and spent the better part of my 20s studying for my actuarial exams, and doing asset/liability modeling and mergers and acquisitions work for Fortune 100 companies (United Airlines, Caterpillar, BANK ONE, Exelon, Robert Bosch Corp, and Kraft Foods were my clients).

Then I shifted gears and traded in my laptop and calculator for yoga pants and a hoodie and was a full-time mom.

And then, in the midst of a transformative and challenging life experience, I did some deep soul searching, and what emerged was taking me in a different direction.  

Totally different than what I used to do.  Actually, the other-side-of-the-brain kind of different.

Logic and reason would have pointed me back to being an actuary.  After all, I had so many years of knowledge and experience in the field. 

But that’s not where my soul was pulling me.  

My soul was calling me to create a movement that benefited the greater good.  And that’s when Live Authentically was born.

Every season of our lives serves a purpose, and if we look at it through the lens of growth, we can find the common thread that unites all of our life experiences, that ultimately leads us to our purpose.

To Beach or Not to Beach – That is the Question

Retirement often conjures up images of relaxing by the beach or pool, margarita in hand, with nothing that you need to do that day.  

The idea sounds appealing at first, but if not handled with the right degree of finesse, the transition can be super challenging for highly ambitious, entrepreneurial-minded leaders.

No more pressing deadlines, no more goal setting, no more exec meetings, no more long-term strategy talks.

The association and attachment to one’s job can be so extreme that in some cases, stepping away from all that can cause a full-blown identity crisis.

I’ve seen many of my friends and colleagues “retire” in their early 40s, and admit that they felt like they were wandering around like lost puppies.  

And through hundreds of convos I’ve had with senior-level execs over the years, many report that it’s a drastic shift to no longer be the corporate equivalent of  “big man on campus.”

One even commented, “I used to feel so important, but now I’m floating around in a pool all day talking about what I should have for dinner.”

We’ve all heard of the mid-life crisis, but the late-life crisis is a very real thing too.

So to beach or not to beach really comes down to knowing yourself.  What do you need as a person to feel whole and complete?  Is freedom of time and freedom of money enough, or do you need more than that?

Real-life example: For me personally, I need a ridiculous amount of intellectual stimulation.  Always have, always will.  I know myself well enough to know that getting up every day and being a lady of leisure would be a recipe for depression.  That’s true for me now and it’ll be true for me when I’m 110.

So I built a business and a life that I’d never want to retire from.  You totally can too, if that’s what you want.

Remember that whatever you choose for yourself is your business and you don’t owe anybody any explanations.  If it works for you, that’s all that matters.

The Sweet Spot

I believe the best place to be in life is mostly happy with where you are but reaching for more.

The “reaching for more” piece is the one that can easily fall off in the shift to retirement.

Do what you love doing, and you’ll never work a day in your life.  You’ll never feel like you need to retire.  It’s true.  I don’t view what I do as work. I view it as a spiritual calling.  It really does light me up, and I find that the more I put into it the more it fuels me.  It’s like this continuous flow of energy that just doesn’t stop.

And how do you get there?  By knowing who you really are.

Your Personal Brand

Wherever you are in your career – whether you’re in the early stages or decades into your career, reflecting on your personal brand is always energy well spent.

Ever notice that people always ask what you do, but they rarely ask who you are.  What do you embody?  What really lights you up?

Questions like that illuminate the path there.

I would loooove to help you kick this around.  Want to?  Click here to grab a time with me.