• Home
  • Just Life
  • Product Reviews
  • Entertainment Reviews
  • Contact

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How my Retirement Lead to My Real Job

This is the story of how my retirement two years ago lead to my real job and my real passion. It was exactly two years ago, in February of 2007, that I was presented with an unexpected and rare opportunity. After working for 24 years, the company I leaped to straight out of college offered an unprecedented voluntary retirement package. The requirement was your age plus your years of service had to equal 65 or more. I don't know any other time in my life when I was so happy to be "old" and have worked so many years! The severance package was sweet, it could be rolled over to a tax-free IRA. It also meant I could not touch any of that money until I was 59 1/2! But I could get a heard start to pursue the wondrous dream I had to leave my job and delve into other interests. The only string attached to this offer was a limit to the number of people the company would allow to do this. They were hoping to attract the long-timers and were hoping to hit it big. Rumor had it that there were 17,000 eligible people who matched the criteria, but only 5,000 at most could take it. It was a numbers game.

While my "number" equaled 72, there were many numbers greater than mine and the chance I may not qualify as they would take people from the highest numbers to the lowest. For two months I waited with eager anticipation. I could not even tell my boss. What if I did? She'd know I'd be interested in leaving and I'd risk her thinking I had short-timer attitude. I could not discuss this with anyone at work, not until I had confirmation that my number was "UP". But in those two months, I would dream, dream of what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life. It was a scary proposition. I realized that I'd been doing a job for 24 years that I really never loved. OMG! I did like my job, in some capacity. I was an outstanding task-master and my bosses and co-workers knew it. I thrived on that for a long while. I loved whatever creative juice I could inject in my work, that is what kept my motor running for so long. The pay was great too, and my colleagues became life-long friends. But this opportunity forced me to reflect long and hard. Today I see it as one of the biggest pivotal moments I've ever had. It provided me with the impetus to search deeply and think about who I am and what my passions are. During that time I began reading lots of books on retirement, inner passion, and really liked one called "Leap: What Will we Do with the Rest of our Lives?" by Sarah Davidson. "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne was very popular then and was actually pretty instrumental in giving me a positive frame of mind during this scary change. As an Asian-American woman, I have one of the longest life-expectancies of any other female race on the planet, so I knew I'd have to do something with all my time (reference: To the Contrary Report by Bonnie Erbe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTopvmW2adc ).

What I distinctly realize now is I was at a major crossroad in my life. I could easily have opted to stay employed, not quit my job and be complacent. My husband had just begun a job with a start up and we had no way of knowing how it would work out. It's still 'starting up', but he's still employed, thank the investment gods! We were also in the midst of an expensive whole-house remodel, and the cash would be flowing out like monopoly game money - where it doesn't feel real. I talked to many colleagues to get some insight and be sure I was making the right decision. Many were eligible like me, and to my surprise most of them knew immediately that they would not opt for this package. Not taking it did not guarantee their job, and there were many layoffs after the package was deployed. I know a few people who opted out of the package only to learn a few months later that they were laid off with fewer benefits. Ouch!

In any case, I got confirmation two months after my application was submitted that my number qualified. I felt like I won the lottery. I immediately told my manager who was quite surprised. I was the only one in her group that took it, even though most of us qualified. I heard out of the 17,000, only 3,000 took it. It showed me how most people are not risk takers. Most are comfortable where they are unless forced out of the nest to fly on their own.

And so I flew. I was forced to fly from this comfortable nest I'd built. I was exhilarated with the energy and scariness a college graduate has before they get their first job offer. But I knew that while I was "retired", I would work again. But doing what?

For one full year, I had the luxury of concentrating on my remodel, I loved that entire process. I was creative and again a task-master. But after the remodel, it was back to the reality of determining my next gig. During a weak moment I actually pursued a job back at my old company. I did some consulting work that was just like my old job. But fate intervened, thank goodness, and there were no more offers even for contract work. I was scared because it made me realize my solid 24 years of work was beginning to fade from people's memories. My reputation would not mean much. Now I was truly forced to pursue a dream - yikes!

And then a serendipitous moment happened. A friend, another mom, sent an email to several of us asking if we could provide leads for consulting work. I wrote back and the volleying outcome of our emails resulted in our becoming blogging partners-in-crime as well entrepreneurs. Our pursuit to find employment lead us to use our own creativity and develop our own company. We were forced to use our god-given talents and make something out of that. What a scary thing that was. Otherwise we might have to become pole-dancers or cleaning ladies and those both require a great deal of arm strength I don't have. Suffice it to say, our creativity was put into high gear like a flame to our rear ends. I am lucky to have heard opportunity knocking when my friend emailed me about her pursuit in finding some work. It made us extend our creative energy. Turns out we have plenty of it. Far too much to be a pole dancer but not enough to be a cleaning lady.

We are only three months into our portrait photography business that gives back in a big way to our community. And we have customers and will see some cash coming in next month, yeah! We may not see a profit this year, but we'll have some revenue to offset our expenses. Check out our website to learn what we're doing: http://www.picturethisfundraising.com/. And while you're at it, click here to help us with our chance to get a grant for our business: http://community.intuit.com/contests/cBck3mp9Oqllvkab8P4pmk

And most of all, picture the possibilities. Ask yourself if you really love what you are doing now, at this very instant. You may be a stay at home mom, and for the moment that is what you should be doing. But what about 10 years from now? When the children are older and more independent? Think now so you will be prepared later. As women, we are probably going to live long lives well into our 80s and 90s, even into our 100s. So dream now of your retirement and how you'll really want to live your lives. You may discover what you were meant to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comment here. We request word verification to prevent the spammers out there. Thanks a lot!