What do you want to be known for? What is important to you?
If you think you are too young to read about retirement or you roll your eyes at the thought of it because it seems impossible, then YOU need to keep your butt in your seat and read this one. If you still want to jump elsewhere – replace the word retirement with sabbatical, or career change, and most of all of this discussion is very applicable there too.
I know my circumstances for retirement are somewhat unique, but the ah-ha moments and realizations I want to share are life lessons and they also happen to be really more powerful when finding yourself free of the high demands of one’s current high speed career.
The word retirement is not a bad word and stop making people that use it feel lazy or shameful. My husband and I have renamed our current status to sabbatical, because of the negative responses we get for using the word retirement this young. Oh well, I expect no sympathy – just a point to make.
When one retires and finds more time on their hands, a lot of self-reflection begins. I believe this is one reason so many people that thought they would love retirement or worked really hard to get there, find themselves miserable. They don’t like what is reflected back to them, when they look deep. The time to evaluate one’s self is when you are slaving away at your job so that you find some releases and rewards along the way.
- Are you an interesting person that can carry on conversations beyond your work and your kids?
- Do you have hobbies that you love to spend time on? Can you find a way to cultivate them now (you will like your life better if you do)
- Do you really know how to relax? Really unplug? It’s been three months and I still check my phone far more then I need to.
Do you have real friendships that would exist without the work or work-style connections? This is a tough one for a lot of people and a lot or relationships. Do your conversations go beyond the topics of work, your industry, or the escape from such work? These may be the friends that have been there through good and bad and always were available, or they could be the friends that you share your hobbies and other interest with. If you find this category of your life lacking, I encourage you to evaluate and cultivate your relationships. It might still be some of the same people in your life, but taking the friendships into a different direction can be rewarding and important.
Can you spend extensive time with your spouse and truly enjoy it? I am blessed that I have worked side-by-side my husband for the last 20 years, so this part is easy for me. I see other couples really struggle when they are more in each other’s calendars. It doesn’t mean things are broken, but you might want to find more common activities and also plan for separate time with no guilt from either party.
This is where most articles focus on retirement, starting your own business, or the risk of career changing. There is a reason for that – it is important. Entrepreneurs are conditioned to “know your number”. The biggest portion of that term is knowing the number it would take to sell your business, but the critical day-to-day practicality of that expression applies to everybody. What are the numbers it takes to live the life you expect?
I could reach those numbers quickly due to a couple of really key points in our lives.
- I categorize all of our expenditures into buckets in Quicken. Even if you need to look at it really often or you want to deny how much you spend on something, that just doesn’t do you any favors. If you are trying to hide an expenditure, then you definitely need to categorize it (electronics, jewelry, travel, entertainment, groceries, dining, etc)
- Have a real advisor that can help you evaluate your expenses, your income and your assets. I am not talking about the job title Financial Advisor; those guys are sales guys trying to sell you insurance, investment vehicles like annuities, and help you watch your stock market investments. I am talking about someone that is really designed to evaluate the way you live. Often tax accountants are better prepared for this then many financial advisors. I use an amazing company call SmithFrank; they are the real deal when it comes to all financial considerations.
Here’s the deal. If you know your financial requirements, you shape yourself and your relationships, and you dream about what you would do with your life and time if you were in the cubicle or on the plane again, you may find retirement, life-style entrepreneurship or a sabbatical is more easily within your reach then you thought. These things will certainly make your life at any stage better.
I have had a goal on my life list for well over a decade and I am now getting a chance to pursue it. I have wanted to create children’s books about doing what you love to do, for a career. So maybe sabbatical is a better for term for me, but really what I am doing is just living within a new framework. I am glad I planned for it.
Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children’s books about career ambitions. She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.
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