More than anyone else, CEOs identify themselves with their work. In fact, a great deal of who they are and their sense of self is tied directly to their companies. If your business offers executive transition plans as part of the retirement benefits program, you’re lucky. Most companies don’t.
That’s too bad. The executive workforce is aging. Literally tens of thousands of baby boomers are set to retire during the next five to ten years. Over the years companies have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their senior executives but then provide little assistance in helping them make the move into retirement.
Are you in that position? There’s no magic wand that can help you be successful in Life 2.0, but here are five steps that may make the transition easier:
- Create an identity card
- Don’t let your former title keep you in a box
- Follow the Charles Schulz philosophy
- Become the CEO of your life
- Look forward, not backward
Wicke Chambers and Cheryl Stephenson first suggested these ideas in their book Celebrate Retirement. They do recommend taking some time off immediately after you leave the executive suite, and that gives you the perfect time to work with these transition steps.
Create an identity card.
Easy enough. You’ve carried business cards throughout your career. Now carry cards with your new identity. Of course you’ll include your contact information… your name and phone number. Also include a line that identifies what you are doing now or want to do in the future. This line is always subject to change. New cards are the cheapest part of retirement. Remember, like golf tees they’re easy to replace.
Don’t let your former title keep you in a box.
This may be a hard step but one you must take. You are transitioning into the “new you.” Dig deep and uncover your hidden or neglected talents.
Follow the Charles Schulz philosophy.
Accept that you are not the focus of the world. Can you name the five wealthiest people in the world… name of the last five Heisman trophy winners… the last five Miss America winners… five people who have won a Nobel Prize. Probably not. No one remembers the headlines of yesterday.
But you probably can remember the names of teachers who have inspired you… friends who have helped you through difficult times… or the names of a half dozen people who have inspired you.
The point is it’s not the people with the most credentials or awards that you remember. It’s the ones who care. In the long run your past achievements mean little. It’s what you do with your future that counts.
Become the CEO of your life
Giving yourself a transition period in retirement means you do not have to make snap decisions about what your new life will look like. You can enter a trial and error period in taking your unique skill sets into new areas of interest. The goal is to find new areas of interest that will offer the same satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that work did.
Look forward, not backward
This is not the time to dwell on what was. It’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to do next and what you’d like to become.
These are simple steps but don’t let that fool you. Each step helps you focus on the future. They provide the groundwork on which to build. The success you realized as an executive has provided you with the foundation you need. Now is the time to start taking the steps toward Life 2.0.
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