Gnome Thyself!

A friend of mine helps business owners with exit planning strategies. His clients spend many years anticipating that wonderful day when they will finally be able to sell their businesses and start enjoying retirement. That is – until retirement becomes too close for comfort.

At the 11th hour they come up with a lot of practical reasons for why it’s not the right time to sell or retire. These excuses have nothing to do with what’s really going on. The truth is – their identity has been tightly wrapped around their work for so long, that they have no idea who they are beyond that. Even worse, what the hell are they going to do with themselves when 8am Monday morning comes around. This is a question many retirees are asking themselves.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting an extraordinary retired individual by the name of Pete Bluett. Before he retired, Pete worked at IBM selling typewriters and word processing equipment for 30 years. As his retirement approached he became nervous because retiree friends of his were quite unhappy after they stopped working. Pete wanted something better for himself. After he retired, he wanted a hobby so he decided to get back to a passion he had enjoyed in his youth – clay sculpting. Back then Pete says clay school taught him that he was not going to be a very talented potter, but that he did have a knack for making people out of clay and a need to stay around them, so he began creating clay caricatures out of people’s likenesses – customized garden gnomes. He made a few of these pieces for friends and family and it took off from there.

Pete is still having fun. In fact, every Saturday for the past 25 years, he’s had a booth set up at the Portland Saturday Market. A large sign in his booth reads, “Where Picasso meets Minute Lube.” Some customers come and mark special occasions. Others walk by and can’t resist. Everyone that enters his booth is greeted with warmth, curiosity and funny stories. Not bad for a sales guy that loves people and marketing techniques – he found a way to bring his talent and heart into his second half. He genuinely loves the people he meets and in his words, “Getting to know them one gnome at a time.”

The first half of life is often so busy that we don’t pause long enough to think about what brings passion and meaning to us. The good news is that it’s never too late to begin exploring. Think about your gifts and talents and what you simply love. There are also clues from our childhood… what were some of your favorite activities? What community causes interest us? Where could we imagine serving others in some significant way?

You can start by paying attention to experiences that you really enjoy. Don’t worry about making wrong turns. Just commit to trying different things and don’t forget to have fun on the journey.

Diane Sansom is a Transitions Coach and Work/Life Strategist who works with qualified individuals who want to learn how to bring more inspired impact into their lives!