“What are you going to do?” “You’ll be so bored!” “You can’t just sit at home!” “Do you want to join the Board?” Tough questions for the guy who just wanted out.
I started working back when Carole King was singing “You’ve Got a Friend“ so by 2017 it was time to see what life would be like without spending 60 or more hours a week locked up in an office. I was starting to feel like the little boy that looks out of the classroom window dreaming of escaping the discipline of the school room. I just had to get out.
With the kids out of the house, the only reason for continuing my work in the all-consuming world of finance was lack of imagination – a sort of fear of flying. I’m many things, but not afraid of change so I jumped about two years ago. No more working for anybody. Freedom.
A good friend of mine told me it would take a couple of years to execute the “Reset” with which he meant stopping to think of yourself chiefly in the context of your professional life, and instead pursuing both old and new interests. Whatever would end up absorbing my time and attention was likely to be something that I didn’t know about at the time of stopping work.
“Stopping work?” Isn’t that called retiring? I don’t like that term – sounds like you are waiting to die. For a while I used “I am taking a gap year” trying to signal to people that there could be something different ahead – and that the young folk don’t have a monopoly on adventure and open horizons. Not sure if I have a good label for what I am at this moment, but I’m increasingly convinced I don’t need one. I hang out with my wife; I help my family; I help a charity with fund raising; I race a foiling catamaran; I write; I study music and languages; I stay fit and healthy; I am a grown up.
I was lucky to work in the financial industry during some amazing decades. I was particularly lucky to work with people of great talent and integrity. But it’s a demanding line of work, and I’m still peeling off the many layers of paint applied over the years and trying to get back to a less truncated version of myself. Maybe I’ll be more fun for my wife and my family, and most likely I’ll have more fun myself.
And maybe I can share some observations with other members of this blessed cohort of 60-somethings that I belong to.