When I was young, I believed there was a simple formula for life that went something like this:
Higher Education + Many Years of Hard Work in One Job
(+Wife, Family and Friends) = Retirement at 65!
What looked good on paper, though, just hasn’t computed for me in real life. I did get an advanced degree, I did work hard for decades, I married and had a family and I do have friends. But I reached 65 last month and I have no intention of retiring. What happened?! In math, they call them variables, and I didn’t recognize that they were part of my equation.
Variable 1: My advanced degree wasn’t in a career profession (e.g. lawyer), so my professional life wasn’t clearly defined.
Variable 2: I worked for over 40 years and, while my experiences were varied and I had a fair amount of freedom, it didn’t provide me with a rich pension and retirement plan to live on in my senior years.
Variable 3: My marriage ended. No need to explain why here, but I never imagined that I’d go through the process of separation and then live alone for the first time since college.
I’m pleased to say, however, that plugging these variables into my imagined life formula has forced me to embrace a whole new math.
• My professional life wasn’t clearly defined … so I was able to experience the challenges of both entrepreneurial ventures and employee situations in small companies and large corporations. • These experiences helped me developed very specialized skills … so now I’m able to work independently for as long as I desire and I continue to have an income stream that postpones the need to access retirement funds. • My new work led me to a professional meeting two years ago … where I met a wonderful woman whom I now live with in our new home in Northern California!
What I’ve learned from all of this is to put slide rules and calculators aside and embrace the variables in the new math of life. May all your variables lead you to new opportunities that can make your one and only precious life more than you ever imagined.