I Can’t Retire! I Have No Hobbies!

It’s a common refrain… and it’s misguided. Retirement is not about filling our time with hobbies that we never had time for when we were working. Though you might take some time to invest in your hobbies in retirement, the real opportunity for a healthy and productive retirement is assessing who you are now, and what will be motivating for you over the next 5 – 10 years of your life. Hobbies are ‘nice to do’s’, and you should certainly make time for them, but this stage of life offers an opportunity to invest deeply, maybe for the first time, in purpose. In meaning. In profound contribution. Not because it pays the bills, though it might. Not because you have the time, though you might. But because you feel a compelling need or desire to do these things before life passes you by.

So how do you discover or rediscover this ‘purpose’?  For most, it is a process of searching and discovery. It’s not easy, and you may benefit from the help of a coach with expertise in this area, but are a few thoughts to help you get started:  

Deep within each of us are a set of powerful strengths, a set of core values and a wide range of life and career experiences. Some of those are fundamental to who we are. They define the essence of what makes us feel empowered. Indicators of yours may show up when you totally lose track of time. When you are in flow. Now some of you are thinking that the only time you remember being in flow is when you were working and that’s why you can’t retire, for goodness sakes!  Some of you are thinking the only time you remember being in flow is when you were on vacation, so that’s what you plan to do in retirement, for goodness sakes!

Well, while your flow times may be associated with work or vacation today, if you dig a little deeper into those experiences, you’ll find a set of underlying factors that contribute to flow – for example, if flow happens at work and you are a physician, you might find that you are inspired by getting to root cause diagnosis of a patient’s perplexing medical issue, or you are inspired coaching your younger physician colleagues through a difficult conversation with a patient. Somewhere in those underlying factors is the grain of your reinvention and purpose. Does that mean you need to keep being a physician? Maybe – on a reduced schedule. OR maybe you would find other intriguing opportunities where you can use your favorite root cause analysis or coaching/calming in challenging situation skills to contribute in a meaningful way. Or maybe you would enjoy using your health care knowledge and experience to bring resources together to build a platform upon which perplexing problems can be solved.

If your flow occurs only when you are at the beach sipping a martini or bourbon, maybe you do need a little more of that in your life right now…OR maybe you are seeking more peace and spiritual direction and the beach is the place where you feel most connected. Or maybe the flow is in your ability to appreciate and discern every aspect of the flavor of your drink and your purpose might build upon those talents.

Wherever you find flow, you may also find nuggets of purpose. So it’s not about hobbies it’s all about purpose. What nuggets of purpose can you pull out of your current work or life?


Reinvent How You Live Out Who You Are


Retirement is about reinvention. Not reinventing who you are – but reinventing how you live out who you are. Reinventing your identity and aligning it in new ways with your purpose. Retirement is about putting attention on our priorities at this point in our lives. Our priorities change over time. What we were once drawn to may no longer hold the same allure for us.

We think we just need a hobby, something to occupy our time. But here’s the thing -- all the interests and hobbies in the world will not fill the hole that our identity has filled. And when that work identity is taken away and not replaced with something else that is meaningful and rewarding to you now, it leaves a gaping hole. You can fill that hole by redirecting your energy in a new and different way, defining passions and strengths for your 60+ year old self, rather than trying to rekindle interests from your 30 year old self. The challenge is to invest in the hard work of discovering a new way of experiencing meaning and purpose. This often requires you to explore a deeper level of self-awareness, a look at your strengths and passions with a new lens.

For example, if we were once drawn towards building and owning a regional $50MM company, today we may be proud and satisfied with retiring and selling a single location $20MM business. The commitment required to take the business to the next level may not be where we want to put our energy now.

And things that still hold allure may now play out differently. How we are drawn to it may have changed. For example, if we always wanted to run a multi-location entity, we may be inclined to open the locations as a means to offer our adult children or key employees a proving ground and a semi-independent management opportunity.

Reinventing simply means you are shifting your priorities and finding new ways of living out what matters most to you now.

It’s time to invest in yourself.

The Disorientation of Selling Your Business


There is a world of difference between being a successful employee of a large corporation and the successful owner of a business that was started from scratch. If you are one of the latter, you know just how much work you had to put into it, with all those sleepless nights, the long days of work trying to get those first clients interested in your products or services and the uncertainty of the first years of business. These are things that all entrepreneurs remember as they gain more success.

Inevitably, there comes a time when they need to find someone who will take over the business. In many cases, their children aren’t interested in the business or aren’t capable of running the business, so their only option is to sell their companies. Some of them decide to maintain an ownership or leadership role -- remaining as Chair of the board, or Chief Operations Officer, but at some point, they recognize that the key to financing the rest of their lives lies in selling the business and collecting enough profit to live the rest of their lives without worry.

This whole decision making process can be a very disorienting experience for owners because their business basically became part of their essence, their identity. At some point it ceased just being a way to make a living. Everything that they have achieved, the things they own and the experiences they’ve had are all linked to this company they built from the ground up. When they decide to sell it, it is like going through a grieving process that is similar to the loss of a loved one. The only difference is that they are relieved of all the hard work and the feeling of always having some responsibility.