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Still Struggling A little With Purpose
Old 07-30-2007, 09:31 AM   #1
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Still Struggling A little With Purpose

Hello all. Here’s my story…

From 1979 - 2003, I rose through the ranks to become President of a mid-sized distribution company. After a merger/acquisition with a fast growing public company, I made enough to "comfortably" retire in my late 40's.

Since then, I have had both the same joys and frustrations that many mention on this forum. I have enjoyed working out more, reading, traveling all over the world, time with friends and family.

Yet, like most ambitious people, I keep asking myself, "Is there something more?" "Am I really done with my career?" etc.

I would tell anyone today that retiring in your 30's, 40's, or 50's, really makes one come face to face with the reality that we are all so much more than our jobs, careers, or status symbols captured and enjoyed.

I don't have my final answer. I am still struggling through, "Get another CEO Gig" or "Fully pursue all my other passions in life".

I really feel I need to be creative in this situation and would appreciate any advice or info. I guess my question is this “How do you replace that sense of accomplishment that you got before through work with a new set of challenges and commitments.
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Old 07-30-2007, 09:51 AM   #2
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First, welcome and congrats on your successes to date.

Certainly after a few years in ER, the thoughts of doing something new yet again, would seem reasonable. How you choose to implement that change once again, is the question

You don't say how you spend you time or what your interests are, so as a general response - have you considered volunteering or working for peanuts at a not-for-profit.

They can use the skills but often can't afford the best. I don't know anything about distribution companies, but food banks, meals on wheels, and goodwill (or similar type) stores with lots of branches might need someone with those skills.
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Good, Honest Question
Old 07-30-2007, 10:18 AM   #3
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Good, Honest Question

Thank you for asking this question -- I will be looking forward to see the answers that come in --

I find myself asking the same type questions --

What happens after you become financially independent -- leave your committments behind (job) and are an able bodied person that can choose to do whatever they want?

I mean after the couple years or whatever of doing all the things you want to do and visiting the places you want to see, do you just try to fill your time with hobbies and relationships for the sake of having to fill time with something??

I am not sure I could find any lasting satisfaction in that --- I think I would lean towards again being comitted to a cause I felt was worthy of my time not because I HAD to but because it was the right thing to do -- and living life to only satisfty my own desires would ultimately leave me feeling empty. :confused:

Seems it is easier as an older aged retiree because you feel that you used your time to work and provide for your family etc... and when you retire you are "old" and have less energy and time to give to others but as a 30-40 year old I think my conscience would be saying "what are you doing to help others ? etc "--

Perhaps also easier if you FIRE'd with young children or grandchildren and could invest yourself in their lives to gain meaning....

For sure I want to FIRE asap because I definitely do not feel that my job is what is best served by my time after it has met its goal of providing the $$ I need to live on --- but past that -- into retirement living at a young age, I am torn as to what chioces will lead to true happiness in early retirement and not leave us asking in old age "What did I do with my life?"


So -- No answers here but I definitely think that your feelings and thoughts are valid ones that most have or would have the same --- whether they would admit it or be able to put their finger on it or not.
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Old 07-30-2007, 10:45 AM   #4
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... I am torn as to what chioces will lead to true happiness in early retirement and not leave us asking in old age "What did I do with my life?"
I'd say that's a question that really has little to do with retirement, early or not.

The great thing about ER is it allows you the time to pursue whatever you think may answer that question.
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Old 07-30-2007, 11:03 AM   #5
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Welcome to the board, DR.

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Originally Posted by DeekerRock View Post
I really feel I need to be creative in this situation and would appreciate any advice or info. I guess my question is this “How do you replace that sense of accomplishment that you got before through work with a new set of challenges and commitments.
Well, you could always learn to surf.

But that's just a metaphor for pursuing an interest. It's even better if it's something that you enjoy but at which you initially suck-- where you realize that you're going to have to acquire a tremendous amount of skill through persistence, patience, and just enough success to keep you coming back. I feel a sense of accomplishment every time I paddle out and every time I stagger back onto the beach.

Or you could transfer your existing skills to a new arena in which they're immediately applicable. Many retired execs begin working with non-profits or start their own.

A good guide to the process is Ernie Zelinski's "How to Retire Happy, Wild, & Free". Part of the book is a "Get-A-Life Tree" for brainstorming your interests. I've had a copy of that tree sitting on my desk for a few years now (I've been ER'd for five years) but I've been too busy to get to it.

Sure, ER is made more fulfilling by raising a family, but we're looking forward to our empty-nester future with almost as much enthusiasm as we looked forward to ER.

The point of financial independence is gaining the ability to choose your obligations, including the flexibility to retire. I would strongly hesitate to free myself from a workplace obligation only to replace it with other obligations. After all these years I've been exhausted, I've been frustrated, and I've been overwhelmed with choices & opportunities-- but I've never been bored. Being responsible for your own entertainment seems way better than letting someone else set your agenda just for the sake of camaraderie or for recapturing a cherished workplace environment. But you have to find what works for you.
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Old 07-30-2007, 11:11 AM   #6
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Well, you could always learn to surf.

But that's just a metaphor for pursuing an interest.
That's true. I recently restarted playing ping-pong, and I find myself longing for sufficient time to improve my strokes. So whether it's a new interest, or a renewed one, it's worth it.

Now you get me thinking about improving my snowboarding skill. Expensive, dangerous (for an older guy). But who cares? It's fun.
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Old 07-30-2007, 11:27 AM   #7
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I had a similar experience. The company was acquired and I chose buyout rather than working for someone else. It would have taken 9 months to land another CEO position, and I would have needed to devot 5 years to that.

I watched my father toil at his job until he was 65. The month he retired, my mother died of breast cancer. He spent 30 years alone in retirement. I determined to not have that happen to me. I worked for 30 years. Retired 5 years ago.

So I was determined to handle the transition much like other transitions that had happened earlier (e.g. fatherhood). It was not easy but it worked out. And my epitaph will not be: "I wish I had spent more time at the office."
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Old 07-30-2007, 11:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
I'd say that's a question that really has little to do with retirement, early or not.

The great thing about ER is it allows you the time to pursue whatever you think may answer that question.

Ok... The question "What did I do with my life?" I guess should be modified then to ---
"When I had the means and control over deciding what to do with my life --- what did I do??"

Seems this type of question comes up quite often on these boards to say it has nothing to do with Early retirement -- and I think that is due to the fact that early retirement presents the options that were not there before or at least not as apparent ...

Maybe I see Early Retirement similar to winning the lottery --- at that point you have different options and perhaps responsibilities than were present before and you will someday look back and have a sense of whether you made the best of what you had.
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Its about time!
Old 07-30-2007, 11:48 AM   #9
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Its about time!

There are basically 3 retirement issues:

Time, Health and Money

Anyone considering retirement has to address these. Assuming reasonable health and sufficient money, a person can retire reasonably well as long as the person can find enough activities to occupy ones mind, hence time. Ultimately, of the three issues, time is the one factor one has the least control over.

As everyone knows, a ticking clock is constant and measures time uniformally (debateable by some scientists) but its really the events and/or one's perception of events that makes time go by fast or slow.

So the question of time really boils down to - what can one do to "occupy" or fill that time with. Something that one can derive satisfation from. To some, it may be work/buisness or work/volunteer or simply engaging in self satisfying mental or physical activities - like art, pottery, music, mountain climbing, travel, etc.

Nothing wrong with any of them as long as one gets what one wants out of them for the duration of time. If those activities are few or lack challenge over time, time can go really slow - so it can become a vicious circle/chase.

Its about time!
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Old 07-30-2007, 11:53 AM   #10
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Maxer:

I wouldn't put it that way. A retiree must replace what is lost from work, namely a sense of purpose, a sense of community, and the structure that the work environment provides. I suspect that if you are a hard driving executive whos sense of purpose was defined by the work mission that finding a suitable replacement will be a challenge. Luckily the OP is still young and can try a variety of things until he finds that thing or things that suit him well.

It's not just about filling time. That will happen regardless. It's about being satisfied with the time that is filled.

I'll second the books by Ernie J Zelinski ("How to Retire Happy, Wild, & Free", and "The Joy of Not Working") and the "Get a Life" book as great discussions of this issue.
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Its ALL about TIME!
Old 07-30-2007, 12:14 PM   #11
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Its ALL about TIME!

MasterBlaster:

I won't agree or disagree with you.

What you are suggesting, I think, is know where you are coming from and then decide where you want to go.

What I am suggesting is, here you are today - remove all the "previous" constraints of work, family, sense of pupose/structure, community service, etc. and think about "what now?", analyse and decide where you want to go. On what activities are you going to ocuppy your mind/time with.

Perhaps we are looking at the same thing from somewhat different perspectives but judging by your response, I am heartened that I made a point that came across, was understood, I think, though not agreed with.
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Old 07-30-2007, 12:15 PM   #12
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[quote=MasterBlaster;541334]Maxer:

It's not just about filling time. That will happen regardless. It's about being satisfied with the time that is filled.

quote]


Good Point ^^^^^ It is not about just occupying one's time --- It is about satisfaction in utilization of your time --- I think that for many there are "good things" that one could spend their time doing but for some these "good things" will be viewed as "selfish" (for lack of a better word) pursuits and will nag away expressing dissatisfaction with a life spent without impacting the world in a meaningful way ---
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Conviction
Old 07-30-2007, 02:43 PM   #13
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Conviction

Thanks to all for the insights. For me, the key ingredient is all about conviction. I must have conviction about what I am doing and if I don't, then I need to find something that I can have conviction about.
There is the common misconception about early retirement that getting one's financial state in order will put the individual's other needs in order. I have come to believe that the opposite is frequently true.
You can have the money, the health, and the time, but if you don’t have conviction about something, you’re just passing the time and keeping yourself amused. You've got to find a way to continue to grow and learn.
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:10 PM   #14
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Have you ever read Stephen Covey's books on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Leadership? He uses the metaphor of being a witness at your own funeral. What would people say about you and your achievements?

I have used this concept to help frame what is really important to me and it has guided some changes in direction. It certainly could apply to retirement too.
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:13 PM   #15
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If you don't need the money, then I'd vote for the volunteering option. Find some organization that you believe in, and volunteer your time. You'd be surprised how quickly you can move from "I just started volunteering here" to "I am in charge of the xyz organization" (especially if no one gets paid to be in charge). I volunteer a LOT at a LOT of different things and usually within 6-12 months other volunteers, who are usually constrained by jobs and there commitments, are more than happy to have someone else step up and do the hard work that needs to happen.

At first I found it hard to justify "giving away" all my time, but the more you get into it, and the more you can be in charge (if thats your thing), then the more you can feel you are making a difference and doing things how you want. It can be rewarding.
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Old 07-30-2007, 11:16 PM   #16
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Welcome to the board DeekerRock. As you can see there are a lot of opinions and suggests on many topics. Of course you have to choose which are of value to you and which are of no interest. You have been successful in a highly competitive profession. That takes drive, ambition, creativitiy and the ability to make good decisions with limited information very quickly. After a while it becomes a rush in itself and leaving it can leave one empy and hollow unless they are able to transition from the high speed workplace to retirement where there it is difficult to get the "executive rush" and all that goes with it.

As Nords suggested, some high pressure executive types who have controlled large workforces and/or large budgets may need to find some kind of non-profit management position that will allow them to use their skills for the organization while they get to keep a similar but reduced level of "executive rush". Otherwise, it might be very difficult to fill the void of lost power and prestige.

Good luck and welcome to the board.
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:11 AM   #17
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Old 07-31-2007, 12:49 PM   #18
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I guess my question is this “How do you replace that sense of accomplishment that you got before through work with a new set of challenges and commitments.
The way you have framed this question makes me wonder why you retired.

Raising happy healthy kids is a big challenge; but IMO not incompatible with a job. Short of childrearing, for most ordinary people there is nowhere that you can make more difference or be more clearly rewarded than successful work. For someone in his late 40s the die is cast- too late to be a virologist, too late to be a wealthy philanthropist- but still plenty of time to do whatever is was that you did before that worked for you.

Many ERs are not that into challenges- there used to be long enthusiastic threads here about laziness and its many virtues. (We rejected sloth as one of the 7 Deadly Sins).

Others didn't really have particularly interesting or rewarding careers. Still others got fired, outsourced or otherwise laid off. Others have been government workers, for some of whom a large part of the attraction of the career was the option to bug out early and still have the bills paid. And of course some just left at the top of their game. Maybe they were exhausted, maybe they really did want to travel perpetually as their major way of spending their time on earth.

IMO, you still have options. You won't forever, so as you realize this is a good time to think it through carefully.

Ha
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Old 07-31-2007, 01:34 PM   #19
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Nothing that would compare to doing LBOs and blowing $1000s a night with an entourage of young beautiful women.

I research stocks, walk downtown, meet a friend for coffee or lunch (when I can find someone), go out dancing some evenings, collapse into bed others. Get up, start over. When I can find a companion I drive out I 90 and go hiking. Once a week or so go to a museum.

Oh yeah, sometimes go to a doctor or dentist, every couple weeks go to a seminar or meeting my brokerage puts on, etc. Good enough, but not exactly peak experiences. (Well, maybe some are.)

And of course, many of these things are not incompatible with work.

But then I am not a recently retired 40 something ex-CEO.

People are all different. I just don't see any harm in "The Other Side of the Story".

Ha
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Old 07-31-2007, 01:36 PM   #20
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I think Master Blaster's post must have disappeared. I was answering his question- "So Ha, what do you do all day?"

Ha
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