Did you ever hear the theory (maybe it’s research actually, not sure) that points to an increased death rate shortly following retirement? Many individuals envision the time following retirement as relaxing days of reading, fishing, and spending time with loved ones. Only, instead, they get sick or die soon after leaving their careers. Why is that? If I remember correctly, it has to do with the loss of feeling important and needed. The phone stops ringing, the urgent demands of their time fade, and all of the years of being busy, responsive, and solving problems comes to an abrupt halt. There is less interaction with fewer people, and sometimes, even the strain of less income is more challenging than imagined.
Vulnerably, I was afraid that a version of this would happen to me once I left my CMO job. Not literally die but rather that I would experience a mental health decline and a loss of purpose that might correlate with a lack of predictable 9-5 structure. I was still at the top of my professional game when I resigned. The work that I was doing was getting noticed by publications and industry experts and driving change for the firm’s employees and clients. Deciding to quit felt like yelling, “Stop the bus, I want to get off,” and then a little bit like jumping while it was still moving.
I feared that the ending of one professional era would lead to self-doubt and deflation.
Guess what, it did not feel that way at all.
In the past two months, my fears haven’t been realized, and it’s been f’ing glorious.
Sometimes I forget my phone upstairs, and it’s lovely because I know that my email isn’t blowing up and anyone looking for me will wait. It can usually wait. Sometimes I even forget that I forgot.
I remind myself that this period is a temporary block when things are slower than usual, and I am soaking it all up. I doubled down on investing in myself and feel that my value and health has significantly increased.
It’s been a while since I prioritized my professional development and learning. In recent years, I have found myself delaying participation in conferences and classes because I’m too busy, too many deadlines, too expensive, not a good time, there are too many kids in this house, blah blah blah. Now, it was an excellent time to take advantage of my new freedom and focus on taking classes, reading books, meeting new people, and beginning new commitments.
Here is a list of some of the ways I spent my time in the first two months:
I took these classes:
- Influencer Business Plan class by Brittany Hennessey
- IDEO’s Foundation in Design Thinking Certification
I read these books:
- The Design Thinking Toolbox by Michael Lewrick, Patrick Link, and Larry Leifer
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- We Are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer
I volunteered during election season:
- For Lynn LaPlante’s campaign for my local county board
- And sent postcards to Michigan on behalf of Postcards to Swing States.
I joined this Board of Directors:
And I began this project:
PS – If you don’t know about Bookshop.org, you should learn about this fantastic antithesis to Amazon. It’s an online platform to support independent bookstores. Learn more here. I have linked the books above to my bookshelf in Bookshop.