Finding a Fulfilling Pre-Retirement Career

Whether you own your own business or work for a company, why are you where you are today? Is it the money, are you passionate about what you do, is it personally fulfilling? If your business life included all three, how would that impact your personal life?

Along the way, I have been in jobs where I dreaded going to work.  For instance, when I was in college I worked as a waitress at a hectic family restaurant, I had little training and no experience.  Guess what – I was miserable, stressed out, gained weight, and had no social life. However, I had a plan that drove me to continue. I loved math, enjoyed my dad’s stories about the business world, and was certain that opportunities were available if I graduated from college.

Early on, I discovered that I could not have accomplished anything without a plan. If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know that you got there? Having had a 30 year career in the business world and having established my own business, I learned that my life was much richer and fuller if my plan integrated both my business and personal life. However, it is not always easy to do so.

For instance, several years ago I established my own business. Starting a business is all about passion, because initially there is much more effort than income. Plus, there is a lot of uncertainty – how to plan and manage cash flow, risks, staffing, how to prepare for the future, and most important, how to attract enough clients so that the business begins to flourish. If those tasks are not daunting enough, how do you synchronize them with your personal life?

Given my years of experience in the corporate world, I knew that companies did research, established goals and objectives, and conducted pilots or experiments before moving forward in a new area. I knew my goals and objectives – I wanted to establish a pre-retirement career that offered a slower pace, but was fulfilling, exciting, and lucrative.

Since I have significant financial management experience, I started my research by joining a financial firm called a broker / dealer who sold insurance and investment products. I learned quickly, that business model did not meet my objectives. What a mistake! More research led me to associations for financial planners. I learned that many members were willing to share how and what it takes to build a practice. Many had a business model where they only offered planning services to their clients and did not push products. WOW! I found what I wanted. I was excited.

On the other hand, if this was going to work, I needed a business plan and support from my family which would require a lot of communication and negotiation with my husband. Fortunately, he is in a career he enjoys, his salary could cover most of our expenses, and he had medical insurance. Initially, he supported my endeavor, was willing to cover household expenses, but wanted me to provide the funding for my business.  As I developed my business plan at a high level, I realized how much easier it was to develop due to the information I had obtained from other professionals along with having financial support. My initial business plan included a financial plan, operating procedures, and a marketing plan. Since I did not have any employees, I did not create a benefits section. Later, I would add employee benefits, risk management, and retirement and succession planning. What a learning experience and what an impact on our lives!

I was so driven to make my business a success that I sometimes forgot that one of my goals was to have a slower pace. Without my income there was less money for luxuries like going out to eat. Since we were now spending less time together, my husband began to resent what he saw as a change for the worse. To add to the decline, the environment where my husband worked had turned demeaning. Not only was I losing my husband’s support but our business lives were having a negative affect on our personal lives. What could we do to regain balance and harmony?

Even though I had a business plan and my business was making positive advancements, I needed a rescue plan for our personal life. What we both needed was some downtime. Since my husband’s goal is to retire in Arizona, he was anxious to buy a house near Tuscon. By traveling to a sunny spot and working on a venture together, our personal goals were revived. When we returned refreshed, my husband found a job at an organization that matched his disposition and I reduced my work schedule. That break helped us add some balance.

If you have balance in your life – share your story.  If not, what research, experiments, and planning can help you achieve fulfillment in all aspects of life?

About the author

Carol Friedhoff, CFP®

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