Use Your Life Experiences to Succeed
You don’t have to wait until you retire to rewire. Rewiring simply means transferring the energy you give from one activity to another. If you are working as an employee and want to go in to your own business, you can take all the energy you give to your job and refocus it on starting and building your own business. Or if you are soon to retire or have retired, consider “rewiring” yourself into successfully operating a home-based business.
It is never too late to get started. We are living longer and healthier lives, so the notion of traditional retirement isn’t for everyone and actually presents a number of challenges for pre- and post- retirees. Living longer means having more time to do things that are fulfilling, as well as the necessity of having the financial resources to carry you through. If you are 40, 50, 60, or even older and are thinking about having your own business, start planning and get going now. Colonel Sanders started his chicken business at age 65 with his first Social Security check. Whether you are considering a job change or you are about to retire, the important thing is not that you will be leaving something behind, but that you will be moving to something better.
Having your own business could become a dream come true. As children, we dream and plan for what “we want to be when we grow up” and continue planning up and around the career ladder throughout adulthood. And then comes retirement. While traditional travel and leisure pursuits sound appealing, for many, the realities and stress associated with change, lack of structure, and even “too much of a good thing” can leave some longing for the days of schedules, deadlines, and problem-solving.
As transition experts, we recommend engaging in active planning now for your “second career” sooner rather than later so that you can avoid the stresses of transitioning to retirement. Attitudes and expectations about retirement have changed and the transition to retirement — which in itself is stressful — is made worse by not having a plan that includes psychological preparation, selecting activities, and understanding the changes in family dynamics that may occur.
Knowing What Makes You Tick
People normally think of the negative aspects of work: the long commute; the difficult boss; the impossible customer; unending office politics; the stress; the deadlines; and the unfairness of company decisions. What we often fail to remember is work is also the place where we get to use and improve our skills, indulge our creativity, rack up accomplishments, have a community and friends, and get our “atta boys” and “atta girls” kudos. Work is much more than we give it credit for. It is not just a financial relationship or all about the money you earn.
Before we wrote the book “Don’t Retire, Rewire!,” we did research on individuals and their work lives. We asked the fundamental question, “Why do you work beyond a paycheck?” Respondents cited 85 different reasons. We called these reasons “drivers” or personal motivators. These candid answers included such reasons as being part of the action, having authority, belonging, lifelong learning, prestige, power, being able to mentor, developing skills and talents, having a title, and more. The drivers you select are unique to you. You need to know your drivers so that you have something to compare work activities with that will lead to a satisfying and fulfilling future.
We recommend focusing on your top five drivers. Once identified, you may find that your current job or career isn’t fulfilling many of your important drivers. If your job is not giving you what you, you may want to consider changing jobs or starting your own business. Ask yourself questions such as:
• Why did I choose my career or work?
• What are the things I like or dislike about my current work situation?
• Would I be more fulfilled doing something different?
• Were other jobs that I had more rewarding?
• Would I get driver fulfillment from being my own boss and having my own business?
Answering your own questions about drivers honestly can be eye-opening and sometimes intimidating. But not taking the time to ask the questions can lead to a continued life of work drudgery and the same old complaints about your job year after year. If you ignore your drivers, you do so at your own peril. By embracing your drivers, you will be able to identify what you really like to do and find and make the best and most satisfying work and life choices.
Take skills and experience you have already learned and transition them to starting up and successfully running your own business.
Owning Your Accomplishments, Skills, and Strengths
You all have accomplishments, skills, and strengths you have used in the past that helped you achieve the things you are most proud of in your work life. Understanding those accomplishments, skills, and strengths is like looking in a tool box and seeing what you have available to do the job at hand. What’s in your tool box? They may be the attributes that will help you start your own business and make it successful. When you start looking at past achievements, it may be helpful to go back in increments of 5-year periods. It may be easier to pick through the past a little bit at a time.
Don’t stop after the first few 5-year periods. Go back as far as memory permits. You would be surprised how activities and accomplishments individuals had as children lead them to starting their own businesses. For example, the junior stamp collector now has his own internet stamp business; the person who loved horses as a teenager now has a barn and boards and trains horses; a person who had their first job working in a hot dog stand now owns a burger joint; and so on.
We have met a few people who as adults loved to go to yoga classes. They never considered the business side of yoga. Now one has a thriving business going to people’s homes to give private yoga lessons. Another opened a yoga studio and hired another instructor to help out. Two years later, she is managing three instructors and looking for a fourth.
Ask yourself, how can I use my accomplishments and skills to help me to rewire?
Rewiring To Operate Your Own Business
Part of many rewiring stories includes going back to school. This doesn’t necessarily mean full-time, unless you need that kind of foundation to start a business. But consider taking a course, earning a certification, or attending a seminar to help you get up to speed with the essentials of your new business. It may be learning an accounting program to help you manage inventory or customer orders, or it may be a sales or marketing course to assist you in getting the word out on your new business and building a customer base, or taking a seminar about the tax implications that might benefit your new endeavor. Continuous learning is key (and a driver for many entrepreneurs) to being on the cutting edge of any business.
You may be running a new business out of your garage, basement, or den. It doesn’t matter where you are running it from. What does matter is that the location, space, and equipment are organized, efficiently set up, and, if customers or clients are coming to where you work, your business is arranged in a fashion that showcases what you do and is welcoming to them. When they see where you work, you want them to have confidence in your ability to get the job done. If you’re not organized even if you are the best at what you do, you risk having them judge the book by its cover and go elsewhere.
Making the Lifestyle Change Necessary to Success
Successful rewirements often call for a change in life style. Ask yourself, “Am I fit and healthy?” Starting your own business requires energy and fitness. Being vital and optimistic shows. Others are usually willing to help those people who convey a positive attitude about what they are going after.
Achieving a goal may also require some level of sacrifice. When you want to start your own business, you are going to have to focus on making it a success. That often means a level of commitment and devotion at the exclusion of other things in your life. But if you ask a successful business owner, if the sacrifice was worth it, they will usually respond with a resounding “yes!”