I enjoy my business and my blogging, but as the result of a recent health scare I found myself seriously deciding when to retire. This surprised me as I had planned to work for several more years and I enjoy being involved in my business. I did not expect illness to stop me in my tracks!
Seduced by the non-working life
With little energy, and the worry of waiting for test results for about 6 weeks over the whole Christmas/ New Year period, I fell into a way of life that excluded anything to do with my work.
I was happily seduced by the easy life of traditional retirement, getting up late, coffee dates, grandchildren, watching the television news for hours during the bushfire crisis and relaxing in the pool. As I started to feel better I fell into the delightful habit of reading a book each day.
When I started to wonder “When to retire?” the resounding answer seemed to be “RIGHT NOW”!
Making the decision about when to retire
I wasn’t prepared to make such a big decision until I knew what was going on. If my diagnosis involved one of the many nasty illnesses that the neurologist was testing me for then I would have little choice but to stop working. My belief was that if the news was good, then my motivation and drive would immediately kick in. It didn’t!
So I stewed…and pondered…and wrote innumerable lists of pros and cons…and talked to a few people…and went back to list writing. I tossed and turned at night, concerned about whether I’d ever find my mojo again.
It was a crisis of confidence and belief. Did I have the desire and energy to keep working towards my goals? Did my goals matter at all? Why not just give up and retire? Neither choice was right or wrong. It was just a choice I had to make and that made it so much more difficult.
I considered how I would feel if I just walked away from my business, and the emotions were mixed – some excitement, some disappointment all muddied together. But I realized that my work actually matters to me. I knew that I would feel very disappointed in myself for giving up when I hadn’t yet achieved my goals. Was I prepared to close the business and suck up that disappointment?
And so I’m back at the computer…
Although my diagnosis is that I ‘only’ have a rare form of Bell’s Palsy this still means that my facial appearance is affected and this bothers me. It might improve, but it might not.
Funnily it was two people in the public eye who helped me make my decision. Severe physical handicaps have not stopped wheelchair tennis player and public speaker Dylan Alcott. Devastating burns have not stopped Turia Pitt. Why should I let a minor change in appearance affect me achieving my business goals? I can still work with clients, continue blogging, deliver workshops, in fact do most things that I did before. I feel very grateful for all of that.
Why did I decide not to retire?
I realized that I love the challenge of learning new things. I thrive on being exposed to fresh ideas, of creating something from nothing. It is a wonderful outlet for my creativity, even if it is in the nerdy world of writing, online business and search engine optimization.
I get a strong sense of purpose through encouraging people to live their lives to the full in a way that really suits them. In a small way I feel I contribute to challenging ageist stereotypes. I love to work in this area, through all the life choices involved in employment, business and traditional retirement. Without my work I still have purpose through family life. But I also enjoy having external purpose, for now at least.
Of course there is also the appeal and motivation of creating and growing an income through online ventures, and maintaining that as a passive income. Naturally, boosting your finances becomes particularly interesting for most of us once retirement looms!
But lessons are to be learnt
I have resolved to work less hours and make sure I include daily exercise in my day. Maintaining good health has to become my main priority. I was meant to be living a relaxed part-time work /part-time retirement lifestyle before all this happened. Maybe I’ll actually do it now!
How did you decide when to retire and how to live your retirement life? I’d love to hear from you.
I’m about to start an interview series about the many ways that older people choose to live great lives.
So if you have an interesting story (and most people do!) please make contact and let me know if you would like to be interviewed for our new “Next Step” series.