It wasn’t that long ago that I thought and hoped my retirement would begin when I turned 55. While I might do some consulting work and definitely donate my time to charitable work, my life would be one primarily of leisure. Long walks with the dog (and my wife, of course!), tennis on a regular basis, travel to places on my bucket list, and lots of great food and cocktails. What could be better?
It turns out that it can get better. In my last month of being 54, I am more excited than ever about my future. I am working harder than I ever have in my 30+ year career and I am more invigorated than I have ever been. I can no longer offer a timeframe of if and when I will retire, especially since I am a firm believer that we have entered a new age of “rewirement”. After all, why would I stop doing something that I love, while still being able to do all of the things that I would traditionally do in retirement?
Many people I know are either planning to retire or are looking for the next stage of their career. I worry about them. For those who are retiring, I wonder not only what they are going to do with all that free time, but what purpose they are going to find in their lives. After all, you can only play so many rounds of golf before that gets to be tiresome. And for those looking for their next job, the chance of finding a good corporate position are slim to none as ageism makes it difficult to find employment after the age of 40, let alone 55.
I started to think about the things that have sustained and continue to drive my personal passions as I head into the so-called (and mislabeled) “senior” years and I was able to identify three key factors that might help others in a similar situation:
- Identify your Unique Ability. Coined by Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach (www.strategiccoach.com), your Unique Ability is something that you are naturally and instinctively really good at. You don’t need to be managed while doing it, you do it quicker than anyone else, and best of all, you get energy from it. My Unique Ability is that I motivate and inspire others around a vision or belief. That is why I often refer to myself as The Crusader. My advice to anyone looking to make a career move is to identify your own Unique Ability, articulate it in a concise and compelling way, and look for opportunities that will enable you to bring high value to an organization by using that talent that makes you so unique.
- Follow your passion. Be honest with yourself and think about the things in life that give you the greatest pleasure while doing and/or talking about them. While following your passion may not have been financially viable for you when you were younger, now is the time to focus on the thing(s) that brings you more joy.
- Finally, identify a viable opportunity what will allow you to utilize your Unique Ability in an area you are passionate about. This is where your years of experience and wisdom come into play. As younger generations are searching for that silver bullet that will make them millionaires (at a minimum!), their relative inexperience can make it more difficult for them to succeed. It’s no wonder that older entrepreneurs (also referred to as “seniorpreneurs”) are more likely to find that gold at the end of the rainbow.
What does all this mean? Ultimately age is just a number. Just because society says you need to retire or at least slow down as early as 55 doesn’t mean that you have to live that stereotype. For me, my new baby has just been born and I can’t wait to see how it grows into something incredible.