Who Am I?

It is not lost on me that work can create our identity.

How often do people you are getting introduced to for the first time ask you “what do you do?”  Culturally this seems to be how we are wired.  Work often defines us and it is comfortable to have a good answer to the question of what we do.

I recently talked to a retiree who said he struggled with his lack of identity for the first two years of retirement as the realization sunk in that his identity was tied into his work more than he had previously understood.

I have thought about this and asked myself if this matters to me.  Time will tell, I suppose, but usually when asked what I do, I give a vague answer something like “I work for a bank or I work in investments.”  As I have reflected on this, I believe the better question is “who am I?”

I recently asked 5 people who know me real well to tell me what they think my personal brand is at work and to also give me feedback on my personal brand away from work..  It was interesting how consistent the answers were with everyone believing that I showed up as the same person at work as well as away from work.  If this is true, then I should not be defined by my work, right?

My goal is to take who I am, with my strengths, expertise, experience and passions and let that help frame how I fill the three buckets of time that I described in last week’s post.

So, filling the buckets of time with who I am should lead to what I do as I continue the journey as . . .


A Boomer In Transition


What is it with me and ‘no right turn’ signs?  I have received two tickets for completely missing ‘no right turn’ signs.


This sign is pretty obvious but admittedly some of these signs seem to be hidden, at least if I am not looking for them!

Sometimes life is like that and we are not looking for signs.  My post today titled “GPS” stands for God Provides Signs.  This was true for my retirement decision.  In literally the span of one week in March of 2014, I knew that God was leading me to retire and he gave me three subtle, but important signs.

The first sign for me was a general unrest at work that came upon me suddenly and during  period of time where I was having exceptional success at work.  I was making good strategic decisions, good resource decisions, good market decision, my presentations had better than usual clarity and were coming from the heart more than the head, and so on.  Yet a profound sense of unrest was present and I even asked my men’s group to pray about what this meant.

The second sign came that same week when a colleague told me he was retiring.  We talked for two hours and he went through his process for making the decision and what he wanted to do and accomplish in his post-retirement life.  Literally almost everything he talked about were feelings that I had been having on the decision process toward retirement.  My wife even pointed this out to me as a sign I should pay attention to.

The third sign came in the form of an article in the local paper about an individual who had the same type of cancer, same stage, and same treatment plan that I had just gone through in 2012 and 2013.  Then after just celebrating 10 years of cancer-free life, his next scan took a turn for the worse in a big way.  The cancer had returned and it had spread throughout his body giving him a new prognosis of just six months to live.

Again, these signs all came in the span of one week.  Other conversations, prayer, family discussions and reflection in the next few days gave me a sense of clear direction to retire at the end of this year.  I have had peace about this literally every day since making this decision.

Be open to signs . . .


A Boomer in Transition

Mornings in London

This summer our family traveled to London and Paris on what would be our last big vacation during my full-time working career.

The vacation was a great for a lot of reasons.  First of all, it was a vacation in it’s truest sense as we were all disconnected from our jobs and from essentially everything except each other.  As a bonus, the weather was perfect and we got to see and do everything we wanted to during the vacation.

For me, the vacation also provided some early morning time each day to pray, to journal, and to reflect before we ventured off on each day’s agenda.  We stayed in a great hotel near Trafalgar Square with a comfortable lounge on our floor.  This became command central for my mornings in London time.

In March of this year, I decided that I was going to retire at the end of this calendar year.  I gave notice to my boss in early April and the transition to retirement started to become real.  I am still fully engaged at work and very busy, so these early mornings in London gave me my most concentrated time to think and reflect since I made the decision.

One of the primary catalysts for my decision to retire now was a diagnosis of cancer that was given to me (some gift) on November 7, 2012.  After a surgery to remove a tumor, surgery to install a port, 3.5 months of chemo, surgery to take out my bladder, create a new one, a 3 month journey with blood clots in my lungs, physical therapy, and surgery to take out my port, I am happy to be cancer-free!  But this journey was a wake up call that life can be short, it is uncertain, and there is more to life than working 60-70 hours a week and spending more time in airports than with my family.

Yet, this simply marked the beginning of the transition from a career baby boomer to a career something else.  During the mornings in London I journaled nearly 30 pages and realized that for me retirement will not be playing golf every day (I am a horrible golfer anyway).  But retirement will be staying intellectually engaged in some part-time way in a field I have enjoyed and spending more time with family, church and some newfound volunteer passions.

I feel like I need to be a good steward of my time and my talents in this next stage of my life.  Right now I have well over a dozen ideas of areas I want to pursue, but I am being careful not to jump into too many of them until I find the ones that are best for me to pursue. This is an exciting time, it feels like a new beginning, and while it is important to me to finish well my work career, it is also important to launch myself into my new career well and with the right activities.

Stay tuned for more . . .


A Boomer in Transition