Business

I want to retire so I can pursue my passions, but I love my job

When I started my business 10 years ago, after leaving my job as Executive Vice President of a large PR agency, I did it because I wanted the freedom to be my own boss . I worked from home (a rarity at the time), made my own hours, and had unlimited vacation and sick days. Plus, it would be a perfect way to easily retire when the time comes.

But with business slowing, I’m wondering if it’s time to close up shop, semi-retire, or continue trying to rebuild my business.

I had a number in mind, but it wasn’t my age

When I thought about retirement, I had a specific number in mind. Not an age, although I knew that working until age 70 would allow me to maximize both my Social Security benefits and my 401(k) distributions. The number at the top of my head was the amount of money I would need to maintain my lifestyle. I would eventually need to cut some expenses, but I didn’t want to have to downsize or move to a less expensive area. Additionally, I wanted to travel as long as I was physically able and continue to go to the theater regularly.

But as my workload lightened, I started thinking about semi-retirement. My work hours were flexible, but I always kept my laptop and phone handy just in case. When COVID-19 gave me more free time, I decided to try an official four-day work week. I let my clients know that I no longer work on Fridays unless it is urgent or pressing. I returned to five days when I was offered a lucrative project with a tight schedule; when the project ended, my full work week also ended.

Retiring now will allow me to pursue my passions

I’m thinking about retiring even with all this flexibility, because it’s hard to stay relevant in an ever-changing field. When traditional media gave way to social media, I adapted. Today, AI is changing the way everyone does business, and I’m not sure I have the will or ability to climb the steep learning curve that awaits me.

Public relations is also a field reserved for young people. I enjoyed working with and mentoring young colleagues and clients. But more than once I heard “Okay, boomer” in the voices of junior team members.

I’m also tired of selling myself. I always hated sales, but having a heart for my work made it easier. However, continually searching for and pitching new business can be disappointing and time-consuming, with little reward.

The final – and perhaps most compelling – reason I’m retiring is so I can pursue my passions. A few years ago, I renewed my love for writing and began writing personal essays and memoirs. Any writer will tell you that it’s hard to make time to sit down and write, but it can be difficult to find that time when you’re trying to squeeze it in between emails and Zoom calls.

I like my job

Why not retire? Finances are the most obvious answer to this question, but I also love the work: the variety – no day has ever been the same – as well as the people I meet, the ability to be creative and learn continually, and the satisfaction of knowing that I am an expert in my field.

Again, I have flexibility. If I go back now, who says I can’t take things back? I don’t need to announce my retirement, throw myself a retirement party, or treat myself to a gold watch.

So, for now, I’m going to stay semi-retired. I can use my free time to write essays and tackle the work as I go along. Who knows, maybe I’ll even end up working after 70.

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