Originally posted on Forbes.com
For over 20 years, John Anderson has prided himself as an effective and insightful executive leadership coach and business strategist. Born with an entrepreneurial spirit, he has found success by growing, partnering, and investing in many companies including the CEO Advantage, VizBe, and Dogtopia.
With this unequivocal passion for business, John never imagined slowing down or veering away from the career he loved. However, as he got deeper into middle age and the word “retirement” loomed closer and closer, John began seriously contemplating what his next chapter would be like, as well as how it could look for others.
Soon, John found himself developing a roadmap that leads to the second half of our lives as filled with as much purpose as the first. He wrote a book called Replace Retirement: Living Your Legacy in the Exponential Age and coaches those in or approaching retirement on lifestyle strategies for the next stage.
In short, retirement doesn’t equate to leaving your meaning at the door and walking away unsure of what to do next—an all-too-common issue, especially for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Instead, we can all live every year knowing that what we put into the world truly matters.
Planning For the Modern Retirement
As Baby Boomers grow older and are pushed deeper into retirement age, they all have a very serious question to ask themselves—what’s next?
Especially since people are living longer than ever, stepping away from the job market at 65 simply feels too early for many people. With people routinely living active lives into their 80s, why opt out of a career you love just because you’ve reached some predetermined age?
Over his career, John has seen a consistent uptick in people expressing a desire to hold off on retirement. That’s why it has become John’s mission to reframe this idea that traditional retirement means sitting on the sidelines for the rest of your days.
Instead, it can mean living just as purposeful and impactful of a life as the first half was, if not more so. After all, those in middle age and beyond are often filled with wisdom—not to mention time and resources—that those younger than them simply don’t yet possess.
John imagines this next chapter as a set of perpetual 10-year cycles. At the beginning of each cycle, you set a detailed intention about what you plan to focus on for the next decade. By creating a path with a set end goal, you’re setting yourself up for a fulfilling future full of self-determined purpose.
He calls this intentional living, and exactly what this is can mean different things for different people. It can be in the form of traditional retirement where you spend your days with grandkids, volunteering in the community, or traveling the world.
Another way is to find purpose is by reconnecting on a long-lost passion that perhaps was pushed to the side as you pursued your career. Want to finally write that novel? Hike the Pacific Crest Trail? Play in a rock band? Retirement is the time!
It can also be in the form of staying in your career. After all, if you truly love it, why leave just because tradition says so? That’s what John himself is choosing to do, though it’s taking a very different form than it did when his career was starting out.
That’s because people at this age should take full advantage of this time in life by putting a priority on the enjoyment factor. For John, he always wanted to write a book and start a life movement. Now, he’s doing exactly that.
If your business is genuinely what you want to focus on for the next ten years, wonderful! However, do find a way to maximize your time by doing more of what you love about your job, and less of what you don’t.
Still, whether you decide to focus on business, family, travel or becoming a rock star, making these next life goals a reality takes more than dreaming about it. You just have to actually set that plan in motion—and that’s where intentional planning comes in.
Essentially, it’s not saying, “I’m going to spend the next ten years traveling the globe!” Plan out the details as well. Where are you going? How will you pay for it? Who is going with you? Map it all out with realistic expectations and do your best to stick to it.
And unsurprisingly for this veteran business coach, he models much of how to plan for a fulfilling retirement in a similar way that he helps entrepreneurs plan their businesses. He even has them plan their lives complete with quarterly targets and annual goals.
“You have to be specific,” says John. “All I’ve done is taken the same process, and I applied it to the individual. I make sure it’s all flowing the same way,” says John.
We’re All Living Longer, So Let’s Live!
One big spark of inspiration happened while John sat in a business leadership workshop. “We all went around the room as everyone was asked at what age they thought they would die,” he says.
A little morbid? Maybe, but when considering how to plan for your company’s long-term future, it’s something that needs to be seriously discussed. This question put that reality out in the open.
“At first, most answers were somewhere in the mid-eighties,” John remembers. “But then—after everyone started to think things through—answers started rising into the hundreds! With modern medical technologies, health, and wellness, we’re consistently living longer.
“So, as we look towards the second half of our life, how can we invigorate ourselves and get excited about it?”
Of course, none of us can predict when we’ll die. However, it is becoming more likely that we’ll be living well past the traditional retirement age of 65, and most of us will live it in relatively good health. That also leaves us with plenty of time both to do the things we love—and to eventually even get bored with them.
He compares the first year or two of retirement to that honeymoon period of a new romantic relationship. “When you meet someone who’s newly retired and ask them how they like retirement,” John says, “the answer’s usually like, ‘Oh my God! I don’t know how I ever worked! We are so busy with grandkids, traveling to Spain, and finally getting a chance to work in the garden!’
“And then the bubble bursts.”
He compares retirement to the first time you fall in love. “Those who are intentional and purposeful about that relationship can grow their love over many years,” says John. “But if you don’t, the relationship can start to decay.”
This is something that’s happened to many of his clients. Retirement is a blast at first, and then reality kicks in. John thinks back to one client in particular who was immensely successful in business before he retired. Now in his mid-70s, John regularly heard him say that he literally felt like he no longer has value—something that’s far from true.
This is why John believes that a pivot in mindset is crucial to a healthy, happy retirement.
“I really want to drive this idea forward,” says John. “It all starts with beliefs, and we’re changing people’s beliefs. It’s an emotional journey. I want to help people with this transition.”
And he is! For that retired businessman who felt like he had nothing to offer, John’s now working with him to become a mentor to young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs. With decades of entrepreneurial wisdom, he can truly change lives, focus on his passion for business, and still do it on his own time.
As for what John plans to do during his next chapter? Well, considering he’s planning on living until the age of 103, John has several more 10-year cycles to figure it all out. What he does know for sure? “I’m excited at the end of it all to look back and say, ‘Well…that was pretty cool!’”
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