I’ve been in the same industry for four decades: learned the skills, gained experience, built a business from the ground up, sold that business, led the “new” business into growth for Canada—all with the eye of being retired from this industry by the time I hit the fourth decade. So here I am.
Everything I did to get to this place was intentional. But the thought of retirement at a still fairly young age was terrifying, like standing at the precipice of a cliff and looking down. Staying where I was had become too easy, too safe; I had accomplished all I had set out to do. Now I could do what I wanted when I wanted—so what’s the problem?
It’s Not All Ego
I’m the first to admit that I liked the position I had built for myself—a leader, respected in my industry, an expert, with a lot of the hard work behind me. In my industry, people knew who I was and would call me for advice. Big-time litigators and I were on a first-name basis and many of them were people I’d call business friends. Was it an ego stroke? For sure.
But I’m not all about ego. That’s just one facet of me. Coaching helped me dig deep to find all the other things I gave lip service to valuing but that I wasn’t paying real attention to. For example, I wanted to have time to do things outdoors during the week, like play golf, ride my bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, learn pickle ball. I put off so many of these things because of a lack of time. What value did these activities speak to? My health, both physical and mental. I was compromising this value in the name of work, because by making myself available for work most of the time, that didn’t leave me the right amount of time to honor other important values.
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
A few years ago, as I looked toward my future knowing that I would keep my commitment to doing something else in my fourth decade, I decided to pursue my passion for coaching; I received the appropriate training and obtained certification. I thought coaching would allow me to do what I’ve done informally since I started my business: helping others live their best lives. My thinking was by launching a coaching business, I could build something new and keep myself engaged. I just couldn’t face not doing something with my days!
What I started to notice, though, was that I was living my life again just like I did the last 40 years—not committing to my other values all for the sake of building a new business. When my own coach asked me, “Why can’t you have it all on your terms?” I stopped in my tracks. Well, why not? And that’s when it hit me: this was my chance to not look at this next stage as a retirement, but rather a “rewirement”— of me, my thinking, my intentions and my actions.
Maybe You Can’t Have It All, But You Can Have A Lot!
It’s so interesting to me that as a coach, I help people see their own forest for their trees, yet I cannot always see my own. Such a simple question, challenging my 40-year thought of “work first.” Now here I am, building a new business that truly can be made on my terms. But I need to get those terms clearly identified and prioritized, and then act in accordance with what I value most.
My coach will help me rewire my long-learned habits so that I can enjoy this retirement from what I’ve known and loved for 40 years. Therefore, I choose to think of this next stage as my “rewirement.” I look forward to crafting a life that puts me first and supports my ability to help my clients. After all, I should live my best life and honor what I value most now, today, in this moment.
- Plan in advance: Start writing the ideas for your next chapter well before you take the plunge into the next chapter.
- Ask yourself: What do I want to do differently? Take time to notice those days when you really feel like pitching your work out the window because you want to do X, or feel Y or be Z. Write those observations down. They will serve you later as you come closer to your pivot date.
- Plan with intention: With your list of ideas, pick out a few that you’ll actively pursue. Research that course you’ve always wanted to take and sign up! Find that sports group you want to join and decide on a time to engage. In other words, don’t just make a list and stick it in a drawer—use it to pinpoint a few passions you will commit to immediately after your last day of work.
- Get a coach: The idea of rewiring those neuropathways that developed over years of your work is hard to do on your own. A coach will keep you on track with your intentions, commitments and goals and help you create new pathways.
- Be kind to yourself: Leaving your longtime work is hard to do. You’re not ready to sit and knit or play checkers all day. You’re vibrant, energetic and have a lot yet to give! Now’s your chance to create your next chapter. But like anything worth doing, it’s not done by the snap of the fingers; it’s hard work to change, but you can do it.
This article first appeared on March 8th, 2022 in Forbes.com