Plan for retirement

For many successful executives, retirement is a scary proposition. Scary because retirement equals lack of identity, lack of structure, lack of value…Who am I if I am not the CEO of a successful company? Who am I if I am not the CFO, or the CMO, or whatever your title. It may define your sense of worth.

Who in our society values old people? Who in our society values retired people? It is strangling to executives as they look at a future where they no longer have significance.

At the same time, many executives get pressure from their spouses, from their children, from society at large -when are you going to let someone else move up and take the reins?

If this is you, what is your plan for retirement? My belief is that at least 5 years before you think you might retire, you need to get some new interests or hobbies. Hobbies like golf? Well, it works for some.

On the other hand, a lot of people say to me with disgust or anguish:

“I don’t play golf.  I don’t WANT to play golf. I can only travel 6 or 8 weeks a year. Then I want to NOT travel. So then what? I think I’ll keep working.”

But you could do so much more. What could you do? Well, it depends on who you are. There are things you have done your whole life that you could apply somewhere else and have great impact. It could be non-profit work, you could mentor others in organizations like SCORE.  Are there things you might want to start doing that you always put off – like playing an instrument, learning another language, assisting in a project in another country with a charity where your organizational and team building skills would be crucial.

Start trying out some of the activities you want to take up when you retire. See where they may lead you. You might hate the first one. Well, good. Cross it off the list now.

I suggest you take 2 hours each weekend and start doing one new activity. Get an accountability partner. Maybe you do it with that good friend you want to spend time with. Or your partner. Create accountability by doing it together or reporting your progress to each other in a weekly call.

See how you can envision a successful retirement. Envision what you could retire to, instead of retire from.

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