On Coasting, Drifting, and Evolving
What should life beyond 50 be?
Zipping by 50 last year
I still see my 50th birthday in the distance of my life’s rear-view mirror of May last year. I didn’t have time to celebrate it. Of course, there was nowhere to celebrate as nothing was open anyway because of the pandemic, but I was also going at full speed on a client engagement. Okay, to be honest, there was a little celebration with my loving little family of three (which frankly is all that really matters), but nothing beyond that. I didn’t have time to reflect on ‘being 50 and all’, to take stock, to plot the future, to savor the milestone. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the pandemic, but I feel like I was somewhat robbed of this moment but am making up for it now.
In a good place
With my intense client engagement ending last December, I have had the chance and time to shift gears into a place that allows me time to think, to muse, to explore, and to write about it. I’m 50, and in a good place (for now). The retirement calculator provides comfort that I’ve planned adequately for the future. I’m doing what I apparently set out to do 10 years ago, as my wife reminds me: write, teach, think, do occasional client engagements, and enjoy my life. My wife is still evolving in her career as an architect. My 10-year old is happy with her friends and her life at school. The 13-year old dog seems happy too! It’s one of those brief moments when your inner world seems at peace (even though the real world at large is a bloody mess) and you want to keep it going in that state for as long as you possibly can.
Where am I headed?
My wife and I have created a vision for our future, 10 years from now, when our daughter is in college, and my wife has spent more time doing what she loves in her career. We both will continue doing what we love 10 years hence, and there are no plans for putting up our feet on the table and calling it a day, but we plan a different venture for ourselves than traditional ‘work’. It involves doing, teaching, preaching, participating, and being activists in areas that we love through active engagement. Our dream is to start a venture with a sustainable, circular economy (I’m intentionally not giving details!), and invest in a 30 year plan to make the most of it, through thick and thin, for better or for worse. I’m sure it will bring tremendous challenges and opportunities, and everything in between, and we are looking forward to it. But that’s 10 years from now. What do I do in the mean time?
Why not get started already?
Sure, it’s a sensible suggestion, and many a friend has told me this, but I’m not there yet, or it’s too early to hit the ground running at high speed. We’re both doing research, and creating the necessary network contacts that we will need to cultivate during the next 10 years. We are setting a course in that direction, but there is still an ocean of 10 years to traverse, and need to pace ourselves.
So what do I do now?
Do I coast and continue what I’m doing? It feels more like drifting from day-to-day with no real structure or agenda. I’m getting things done, don’t get me wrong, but transactional things. I’m writing, teaching, doing client engagements, and working on a business plan with some colleagues to create a new technology venture. All good and keeping me busy but I often wonder if I shouldn’t be doing something completely different and taking some more chances with my life.
Be the Anthony Bourdain of something!
I see peers who are kicking off careers as chefs, moving from amateur to professional specialty / gourmet catering. I often visualize myself as a chef (and have the home-cooking-creds to prove it!). One of my friends said “you’re an Anthony Bourdain of something, but you need to figure out of what”! I thought that was brilliant — it totally resonated with me! What should I be the ‘Anthony Bourdain’ of? His show ‘No Reservations’ really resonated with me in terms of his outlook, his wit, his perspective, his down-to-earth style comfortably ensconced in a chaise lounge of expertise and experience.
And so, I will continue to coast until I figure it out…your guidance is most welcome!