Ever since Labor Day, I promised myself to clear the decks for…my next life! Cleaning the garage! A new career! However, my lazy summer transition to celebrate my retirement from 25 years in the financial field…lingers on….and on. After all, it takes time for me to enjoy the good fortune of missing the market plunge. ‘Though I’m no longer licensed, habits hang on, and I chat with old clients/friends who still call to commiserate. Together we mourn our losses and dissect the market mayhem and slam the big time bozos who got us into this mess. Happily, I need no longer watch every word nor squash my personal take on the money game that are outlawed for financial advisors on fear of losing one’s license.
Call it a bridge to the future, but I am self-indulgent, non-scheduled, lazy and loving it. I inch forward as I come full circle–back to speaking and writing which was always my first love. If not now….? I’m taking advantage of this welcome slowdown to slide across my careers that are in many ways linked, and I’m beginning to draw inspiration and information from each in order to share what I’ve learned along the way. So here goes—what I always knew, and will now practice as I preach:
1. Do what you love – It’s amazing that 25 years removed from the education field , my enthusiasm for “teaching” hasn’t waned. I love the group vibe, a team approach, the immediate reaction. However, other retirees opt for a complete change and choose a total about-face from past endeavors like the nursery school owner turned movie extra and model. I have another friend who panders to her buried passion for archeology and is out on a desert dig racking up wrinkles and artifacts. She actually found something rare and wonderful at that. It’s all theirs to grab, a second chance and new beginning. Look to your roots for inspiration; take time to discover the real you.
2. Plan for the money—if needed. Especially now, adequate funding forges a strong link to any successful transition. It’s the bedrock of leisure, the secret to start-up businesses and the ultimate ticket to travel, be it other climes or even inner journeys. Here’s the really hard part for so many who opt out of the work force—they just can’t feel as meaningful doing “any old thing” as my friend recently complained. There’s often a crisis of competence for people who are used to being paid; they feel devalued as “mere volunteers.” Especially for any new undertaking, and if you’re loathe to dip into savings that have lost a lot, plot your finances along with your future. Money talks, not just to others but keeps a running commentary inside your head. So…plan ahead…ask questions. Do you need to work part time, cut back spending, start smaller? Should you borrow from banks, pensions, family? Harder now than ever! Can you afford some down time, and how long can you survive until the finish line?
3. Reach out—Take time to reconnoiter. I rejoined the California Writer’s Club and noticed the name of a woman I took classes with in the ‘70s. She’s now a good working writer… I won’t wallow in regret, but look her up as a role model. I’ve been meeting people in other careers… with possibilities toward a shared future. It’s all good. And it should be fun. And it could be meaningful as organizations cry out for volunteers. The best part of my retirement from day one has been reviving and creating amazing connections. Catching up with old friends and following through on those “let’s keep in touch” promises have spurred fabulous new friendships as well as possible career paths. We all know that one person, one step, always leads to another….
Here’s how this magic can work. I helped a young woman as she agonized over her application and personal essay in order to win a place in a competitive three year nursing program. “I was going crazy waiting for that final letter, so my mom’s friend’s hired me as a gofer at her interior decorator shop to keep me busy,” she told me. “I started asking questions, and Kathy was nice enough to explain basic elements of design and teach me simple plan layouts. I found out that I enjoyed the canvas of an empty room, got really good at spatial imaging and decided to forget about nursing in favor of taking some local courses in graphic design. The professional classes confirmed that I had talent, and the arty scene spurred me to take off to New York. I’m waitressing and on scholarship in grad school to earn a degree in architecture,” she recently wrote. “I can’t believe a summer job led to the most unexpected career choice and work that I love.”
As I plot my own course, I’m working on capturing other people’s mini-transformations that drive their personal choices and act as a bridge to the “next big thing” in their lives. I love to hear from others on the same road. What series of events “made up your mind, led to your unique choices or was your first baby step to a giant transition?”
These wondrous routes and divergences will be the stuff my of subsequent twice a month blogs. Sometime these run-ups to the real thing are easily dismissed or quickly forgotten. Dig them up and note your small starts and parallel paths on my website…. Or tell all via email. Looking forward to your forks in the road.