Design the Life You Love!

As we wander through life, there are various stages where it’s a natural point to stop, reflect, and assess where we are and where we might be headed next. For instance, when we’re starting our first job, when the kids are leaving for college, or when we’re about to retire, these are stages of life when we can look at where we’ve been, think about where we’re going, and reflect on what really matters in life.

Of course we don’t have to wait until one of these life-changing transitions. We can reflect on our lives and what we want out of them any time. You’re never too old or too young to look at designing (or redesigning) your life. And, it’s never too late or too early to create the life you want!

A point at which a lot of people do not reflect on their lives and what really matters is when they are retiring. This is why you’ll see people retire and change their minds and come back to work. Remember when Brett Favre retired (in 2008)?

After announcing his retirement, Brett Favre was asked, “What are some things that you are looking forward to doing?”

“Nothing,” he replied. “And I am going to stick to that until I do something else.”

This was an extremely bad sign of the potential for Mr. Favre having a successful retirement.

In my job as an executive coach, I have spent a lot of time with leaders who are dealing with retirement. While some make the transition pretty well, for many it is a disaster. I am a little surprised that Brett lasted as long as he did.

The fact is, after being a huge success in a career that has brought benefits like leadership, relationships, contribution, meaning and happiness, playing mediocre golf with a bunch of old men at the country club isn’t really that great. Eating the same chicken salad sandwich, at the same table, and talking with a bunch of retired folks about the person you “used to be” gets old very fast. And after the third cruise, most former leaders are ready to kill the entertainment director.

Many executives who ‘retire’ immediately proceed to drive their spouses crazy. After a month or so, Brett’s wife was probably thrilled at the idea of his going back to football.

One retired military leader reported that – after three months of retirement – he was alphabetizing the cans in the kitchen. When he asked his wife if ‘baked beans’ should be placed under ‘BA’ for ‘baked’ or ‘BE’ for beans, she screamed, “Get out!”

A CEO friend of my family’s sold his business for millions of dollars. He was about Mr. Favre’s age. When I expressed grave doubts about his ability to successfully retire, he scoffed and assured me that he was different than the other leaders I had worked with. Within a few months, his wife had gotten a job selling dresses. (Hint, hint.) His kids were away at college. (Uh oh.) He was sitting at home watching sitcoms when the delivery guy came over. They had a very interesting chat. It was so interesting that he smiled and thought, “That was great! In fact, talking with the delivery guy was the highlight of my week!”

He started looking for another job the next day.

Creating a Great Rest of Your Life

When you are preparing to create a great rest of your life, there are three questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. How will I contribute?
  2. Does this have meaning to me?
  3. Will this make me happy?

If you can answer these three questions to your own satisfaction, you are on your way to designing a life you will love!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.