I recently caught up with Ben, a client who entered retirement two years ago. He had built a very successful business and was able to retire at the age of 52. Knowing how driven he was at work, and given how young he still is, I have been watching his retirement from the sidelines with interest. I wanted to find out how he is filling in his days and whether he has been able to replace the things he loved about working.
Ben told me his retirement has already fallen into two distinct phases:
- The ‘Me’ phase
- The I’m bored phase, so what am I going to do?
The first twelve months were essentially a time to catch up on life. While he had travelled quite extensively during his working life, it was always for short periods and it was never carefree. As many professionals and business owners would recognise, one of the benefits of modern communications is that you are always within reach of the office, but this also means you can never completely switch off. So with no responsibilities and no demands on his time, Ben and Holly set off to leisurely explore the world – a bit like a school leaver taking a Gap Year, but with the funds to ensure they could avoid dodgy youth hostels!
Their itinerary made my head spin, and would amount to a bucket list for many people:
- a driving tour across Central and Northern Australia
- skiing in Japan
- sailing down the Croatian Coast
- sailing in the Whitsundays
- dirt biking in Northern Thailand
- tramping in New Zealand
- walking the Cinque Terre
- exploring Tuscany
While they loved it, the constant travel took a toll on them over time. One evening while they were sitting overlooking a Tuscan Valley they realised they just wanted to be home in a familiar environment.
They also realised they were bored and needed to find something to do that would replace what they had enjoyed about work, along with the purpose and structure it had given them. Travel essentially represented a series of interesting diversions, but each was only a cul-de-sac and they had to eventually return to their main path.
Since this time they have continued to travel, but have significantly scaled it back. Once again they are thinking in terms of holidays, and so it has again become something novel to plan and look forward to rather than just the everyday. The second part of this equation was potentially the more problematic – could he find something that would capture his interest, would he give up trying and just be comfortably bored, or would he take the potentially easiest option of returning to the familiar environment of his previous work.
We will discuss the course he set out on and how he decided upon this in our next post. Click Here to go straight there.
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