As I announced a couple of weeks ago, I will retire from teaching for the second time in May.
I am a strong proponent of retiring to rather than exclusively from something. The former gives my life purpose; the latter feels like I’m running away.
Four years ago I retired to writing. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write or what that might look like, but I felt a pull toward the writing life. I experimented with different genres and interests. I went to several conferences and participated in writing challenges like NaNoWriMo. After several months, I found a nice groove.
For this second retirement, I want to take those dabblings to the next level. I’m ready to call myself a serious writer, but I stop short of calling it a business. I fear jumping into another all-encompassing career. What sacrifices would be required of myself and my family? Will my workaholic tendencies lead to burn out?
This past week I listened to a podcast with Susannah Conway, an online blogger/teacher whom I greatly admire. In that podcast, Susannah discussed her business. She is pleased with its growth over this past decade. She has intentionally maintained a solopreneur status, knowing full-well a partner or team would help her market grow exponentially. But since she is an introvert, she consciously keeps her business small and cozy. I love this because, in essence, Susannah gave me permission to pursue modest goals.
Since I do my best thinking and planning with a pen in my hand, I decided to journal: What do I want retirement to look like?
I want to be a serious writer but cringe at the thought of big business. I am goal-oriented but not motivated by money. I want to connect with an audience but hate the idea of marketing. Was I sabotaging my efforts before I started?
Through the study of the Enneagram, I know my “6” type is prone to focus on worst-case scenarios. We lack confidence and therefore retreat into our comfort zone. But I also know we have the capacity to push through the fear and develop faith.
The way for me to push forward is to transform my thoughts. I need to use accurate language that inspires me rather than popular buzzwords that instill fear. For example:
- Rather than pursuing a Business (making a living by generating income)…
- I prefer the word Vocation (a calling or mission)
- Rather than defining Success (focusing on revenue, profit, and the bottom line)…
- I prefer the word Productivity (creating content)
- Rather than developing a Marketing plan (asking others to buy my goods/services)…
- I prefer the word Communication (letting others know what I offer)
- Rather than sharing my Ambition (an aggressive pursuit)…
- I prefer the word Aspiration (a longing, wish or desire)
- Rather than practicing self Promotion (look how great I am)…
- I prefer the word Advocate (how I can support and encourage you)
- Rather than viewing Sales as a focus on profit…
- I prefer to view Sales as a focus on others
Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not believe these buzzwords are negative for others. They are only potent to me. My connotation of these words paralyze me rather than motivate me. They prevent me from becoming a better version of myself. Which is, after all, my primary purpose in life.
So between now and June 1st, I will lay the groundwork for retirement by:
- Establishing a Vocation plan based on my definition of Productivity.
- Creating a vision board of my one-year and five-year Aspirations.
- Developing a Communication program which centers on connecting with others in a meaningful way.
These may seem like small semantical differences, but for me… accurate language is essential to effective self-talk that will enable me to achieve my retirement goals.