Thoughts and such like.....
I love working as an entrepreneur - independence, flexible hours and the ability to work anywhere, when and where I want. For example I'm writing this outside on a patio I built specially for this purpose. My house faces south and so I needed a space that was cool, and I wanted it outside. My patio sees the sun for about an hour a day, and is shaded by trees, often my only distraction are the bees coming to play on the flowers in front of me!
Many people assume that I left my well paying job to retire, they can't imagine moving on to work independently; the pressure, the financial risk, the loneliness! I see it more as reinvention, yes there is a risk however I work better when I can control the when, and as an introvert I love being on my own, working with individuals one on one. Like many women (and some men) my age, I am concerned about having sufficient money in savings to last another 30+ years, I don't have a pension, and I'm not sure I'd be very good at retirement. I also feel I still have a lot to give and so for me working in a profession I love, on my own terms suits me beautifully. I set my own hours, I'm very good at setting daily, weekly and monthly goals and I love being accountable to me. Yes, I'm still concerned about money, I knew I would have to invest in my business, but I'm less concerned than I might have been, and I'm so much happier and healthier than if I'd stayed in my previous role, waiting for retirement. Thinking about it now, I made a lot of changes in a very short time, changes that we are told can be really stressful but because they had been on my mind for a number of years I didn't find them so. I loved the idea of movement - change that inside I felt I needed not just to feel better but also changes that allowed me to live more fully in my values and place in the World.
You may not want to set out on an entrepreneurial journey, and that's okay. You may also not want to remove yourself from the working World. Think about the opportunities out there, even in your current workplace. Could you negotiate shorter hours? What about contract work? Or, maybe you feel like taking on something completely different - do what feels right to you - maybe take a break and then look at where you are in life - remember 50% of us who reach 60, have another 30+ years to live - how are you going to make the best of those years?
I've talked previously about how many of us are changing the face of the workforce in Canada. According to stats. Canada, as of June 2016, 47% of small business and 51% of medium size businesses are owned or started by those age 50-64 (www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/h_03018.html#point1-1), and I would suggest that the number is similar in Europe. In many of our lives, once a person reaches a certain age (60+), their accomplishments are often laid aside, and each milestone they reach is greeted by a chorus of 'well done, wow that's great for your age! aren't you doing well?', meant to be encouraging, but these words can also sound patronizing. When we sit down and think about how we view a certain age as the time to down tools and go into the age abyss, it's a bit ridiculous seeing how retirement was first thought of by Von Bismarck of Prussia in the 1800's as a way to retire those who had given, it was decided, their best work, and often were lucky to reach the age they had. (www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/how-retirement-was-invented/381802/).
For me, I feel I still have my best work ahead of me, I don't want to retire, however I do want a different lifestyle, that's important to me. My brain is engaged, and I continue to learn, both from my clients and the research I do to help them, as well as continuing education for myself! Since I began, I have made new friends through Mastermind groups and other learning platforms - friends of all ages, who once we get over the age differential (yes I am surprised at how young some of my colleagues are or appear!), the exchange of ideas overtakes any residual ageism prejudice.
I often wonder what it says about a society that says 'oh, you've reached that age - no good to us anymore' how does that make anyone feel? I've had more than one person say to me how these type of comments had demoralized them, filling them with hopelessness and feelings of being no longer useful or wanted. Someone who one day is a useful member of the workforce/society, and the next day 'retired', and often looked on as no longer having a thinking brain? How strange!
The word retire, comes from the french retire', meaning to draw back (to a place of safety or seclusion), and so using that meaning we could say we're drawing back from this period in our lives and onto another. So if transition into adulthood in our 20's was going from Spring to Summer, now we're moving from Summer to Autumn, for me a beautiful time of year. Moving into a slower time, changing from the bright sunshine into the slower warm colours of Autumn, when once can almost taste the changes taking place, where some plants are at their best and others shed their brightness for a different coat of subtle browns and mustard yellows, indicating a slowing down and taking time to savour life.
Just as seasons change, so it is a time for us to look inside and shed what no longer serves us. To dig more deeply through reflection on what we want - a time to spend on us, leaving behind habits, things and people that no longer support our needs. A time to look for new adventures and what next? What excites us now? What was exciting for us in our 20's/30's/40's that perhaps we couldn't explore, but that may be possible now. A time for courage to try new things, and a time to take care of us, and our needs. We all have heard the phrase 'Life is for living', but how many of us have ever really heeded it and taken it to heart. What part of your life needs to be set free - what do you have to do to live rather than grow older?
If you feel that you are still constrained by others expectations and rules, here are a few questions to ask:
What values and thoughts do I hold that have travelled with me since childhood?
Do they still resonate? If not, why am I holding onto them?
Was there anything that I wanted to do in my teens/20's/30's that for any reason I was unable to do?
Could I try now? What, other than the voices in my head, is stopping me from trying today?
If you are having challenges thinking about what next, think about getting a coach, or take advantage of a free discovery session with me - what is there to lose, how much more could you gain?
Remember you only have one life to live, you are in charge of how you live it, so live it well, take up new adventures, and live the life that's left to you with joy and courage!
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog