In our culture, there’s a certain vision of what retirement is supposed to look like.
You see it in television commercials: The lovely couple with the silver hair, with polo sweaters over their shoulders, walking hand in hand on the beach, or riding together in a golf cart. Grandparents in sensible clothes with plenty of time to dote on their grandkids.
If you work hard and save a big enough nest egg then by age 65 you can retire and live off your savings, free to live a life of leisure with the few years you have left.
It is a lovely picture from the outside. But the disturbing view from the inside is the unspoken understanding that people who have reached a certain age are expected to gracefully exit stage right and fade into obsolescence. Society doesn’t have much use for them anymore, except perhaps for babysitting. They’ve reached their expiry date.
I took an unconventional approach in my youth, choosing entrepreneurship over a steady job. I poured my money into my business instead of retirement savings.
But I still had the same assumption as most people when it came to retirement: I’d live off my assets and enjoy a life of leisure in my twilight years.
I sold my business in 2009 and transitioned into the woman of leisure lifestyle. I tried to slow down and enjoy the fruits of my lifelong labor. After all, I had earned this!
But it wasn’t enough.
I still had a lot of fire left in me. I wasn’t ready to fade from the radar screen of life, to ride off into the sunset on a golf cart.
For a long time, I fought my true feelings. I convinced myself that this was the role I was supposed to play.
After all, I was fortunate enough that I didn’t have to work, so it would be idiotic of me to say, “Hey, let’s start up a new business, let’s take risks, let’s take on a steep learning curve and start all over again.”
But I could not shake the feeling that I wanted to do more, to have influence now. It wasn’t enough to rest on my past accomplishments; I wanted to make a positive impact moving forward.
I finally realized that I would not be able to find the answers I needed about what to do next until I asked myself two critical questions first:
It was a surprisingly emotional process.
It was messy and awkward to work through those questions.
Most of my life I had a business card that told me who I was. Now I had to figure it out by looking within. No one else could give me the answers to those questions.
But like I’ve done all my life, I did the work.
And now I’m clear on who I am now. I know what I want for this next stage of my life, which is far from over, since I expect to live another two to four decades, at least.
My motto is Lift As You Climb. I help women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s answer those essential question for themselves:
Once we know the big picture, once you write the script for your next stage in life, we focus on how to execute on it, how to produce that script and bring to life your encore performance. We explore:
Don’t let the world tell you what your expiry date is!
You get to decide how you want to show up in the world now. When you embrace your encore endeavor, the best is yet to come!
On the Lift As You Climb podcast I did an episode on this meaningful topic.