On September 12, 2019, The New York Times published a special section on “Retirement.” One article that really reverberated for me was titled: “My Work Life Is Over. What’s Next?” The author states, “Many retirees do not have a plan” for after retirement. For some with health issues, retirement is necessary, but what about those who are healthy? Are they worn out after doing the same thing year after year and are glad to stop, or does their retirement date just appear on their calendar?
These questions beg an answer because as you probably know, we are all living longer. Retirement dates don’t necessarily change, so what are you going to do for the next 20 or possibly 30 years of your life?
The Times article suggests that there are a lot of things to do, citing examples from farming to teaching. The main point, though, is that you really need to have a plan, not necessarily a financial plan but a plan to keep you interested and interesting as you age.
My personal journey
With this NYT article in mind, I am going to relate my own personal journey, not because it is the greatest or the most exciting but because I have a plan and I continue to execute it.
As background, I had run an educational testing company for almost 20 years, and for the last four years of my tenure served as its Chairman. But, it was time to go. It was getting not to be fun anymore. Too big, too many people, and it had lost some of the glamour for an entrepreneur.
At the same time, my wife had started a consulting company, Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC) 10 years before. I decided to join her organization. The lure was that while we had not formally worked together in our long marriage, we did share problems and issues, and looked to each other for comfort, as well as advice and solutions, so perhaps it could be fun!
Joining SAMC also meant that I didn’t have to worry about hordes of employees and boards of directors and the problems associated with those. Our focus was just clients and we could pick and choose whom we wanted to work for. Also, SAMC was on the cutting edge of innovation and change — something I had done both in my corporate and entrepreneurial careers.
Making the jump and having a mission
So how am I doing?
It’s been 98 months since I retired as Chairman of the educational testing company. And it’s been 97 months since I reentered the marketplace…as a partner of Simon Associates Management Consultants. After I made the jump, people asked me, “How come? You have enough money to retire. You couldn’t have had your fill of golf already, and what about travel?”
All true! But for me, I need a mission. I need to be doing something. My world now is perfect. I mix business with pleasure. I play just about as much golf as I need to without getting bored, and I can take as much vacation as I think I need. After all, how much golf can I play (particularly with my game)? I am doing what I enjoy and am working with my partner, my wife, which really is a thrill (although either she or I seem to be on a plane to clients quite often, so it’s not like we see each other seven days a week).
Still on that learning curve
But I think that my discourse on golf and travel is really an excuse. There are other reasons why I choose to continue to work, even as a grey-haired sage. Here are a few:
- Different generations behave differently. Millennials as well as GenZs are interesting. And throw in Boomers and you have a real mix! Each group has different experiences, different ideas and social norms. Taken all together or separately, they can be challenging. Certainly, their perspective on the world is different than mine. So, understanding their cultures and working around their problems can be very exciting.
- Learning new things every day is a high. The world is changing at a faster pace than ever before. Tom Friedman in his book, “Thank You for Being Late” talks about the rate of change. Think about what has transpired over the past 20 years, like the internet, the Internet of Things, ecommerce and social media. Trying to keep up can be stimulating. On the flip side, it is always disturbing to see some of my contemporaries who stop learning as soon as they retire. Where is the intellectual curiosity?
- You need to have goals in life. Sure, it can be a not-for-profit or learning to grow tomatoes or playing better golf, but building a business, or helping people build their businesses (at SAMC we are Blue Ocean Strategists®) works for me.
- Working is both physical and mental. It is good for you. If you have good health, you can’t sit on a couch all day.
- Experience different businesses and categories. At SAMC, we span multiple categories. Because the work we do encourages innovation and change (again, Blue Ocean Strategy), it is agnostic. In other words, we work across multiple categories. This means that we learn something from each one of our clients. And while this does not necessarily make me an expert on everything, it does make for an interesting world. Life can still be interesting.
Where I am going with this
Getting ready to retire?...maybe not? Life is a plan and the plan must go beyond your traditional retirement date. If you have good health, your expiration date is expanding. You could well live into your nineties and even perhaps celebrate a centennial birthday…meaning, there is going to be a large gap between your traditional retirement date and your expiration date, and hopefully that gap is filled with 20 or 30 years of good health.
What are you going to do? How are you going to challenge yourself? What are you going to learn as the world changes rapidly? Make plans. You are still young! You can learn new tricks and continue being a productive member of society.
A lot to think about. If you would like to talk, drop us a note and we can set up a time to talk.
For more on "not retiring," here are some of our best blogs and podcasts:
- Blog: Best Practices to Scale Your Business for Growth
- Blog: Enjoy Retirement By Not Retiring: The Value of a Home-Based Business
- Blog: Senior Entrepreneurs: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Starting a New Business Over 50
- Blog: Who Says You Have To Retire? Not Me!
- Podcast: Andy Simon—Confessions of a Successful Entrepreneur
- Podcast: Cal Halvorsen—A Whole New Way to Grow Old and Have Fun
A little about what we do
At Simon Associates Management Consultants, we specialize in helping entrepreneurial startups as well as established companies develop a business strategy, realign their company culture, launch their venture, capture customers and grow market share. Perhaps we can help you with your business? Please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.
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