In 2006, I mulled over my potential retirement with a dear friend, a retired Senior Vice President with the Royal Bank of Canada, whose sage counsel I deeply respect and appreciate. George asked me what he referred to as 'HIS three critical questions'.
"Can you afford to retire?" Yes!
"Can the company survive?" Never one to have dilusions of indespensibility, I quickly responded with a heartfelt, Absolutely! And it is time for fresh blood to move the brokerage forward from where I have built it.
"Can your ego take the loss of position?" Jim will tell you that I laughed out loud before answering with, You are joking, right!?!
Ooops! Not so fast, Daphne. From June 2007 when I sold and stepped away from Royal LePage York North Realty, two internal demons reared their ugly heads and threatened my dreams of a fulfilling retirement.
BOREDOM. Like the sugarplums of Christmas, visions of travel and vacations danced in my head. But what of the time in between? "24/7 to zero", I have learned, requires a full paradigm shift, a shift at which my brain stubbornly balked. Before retirement, I promised OREA to teach a "few" hours a year of real estate courses. My thought was to pay it forward in gratitude for a long, prosperous, happy real estate career. This industry had been good to me. By January, 2008, however, sheer unadulterated boredom drove me to my phone begging OREA for more hours. Part time teaching became my life preserver, my buffer between 24/7 and zero. And five years of teaching blessedly provided me with time to figure out this 'excess time on my hands thing'.
Thankfully, I now find myself busy enough to wonder how I found time to work, But wow, did I initially goof. Go figure! After family, working to build a real estate career and then a brokerage filled the largest portion of my waking hours. Hobbies? Outside interests? Who had time? Hindsight, they say, is twenty-twenty. Harry Emerson Fosdick (gotta' love the name) in speaking about retirement stated, "Don't simply retire from something; have something to retire to." Where were you when I needed you, Harry?
Far more painful than my boredom was the EGO BRUISING I suffered with the loss of my Broker of Record/Owner moniker. Sure didn't foresee that! Oh, George, how insightful you were to ask that question of me and how dead wrong I was with my glib answer. In truth, I suffered a sense of loss and displacement. After thirty years of being responsible for my own success and of being in charge, I even railed at the restrictions and rules of OREA. If you had asked Jim during his working years to describe himself, he would have answered, "Father, husband, school principal." He never defined himself by his profession. How shocked I was to realize that I had. Looking in the mirror, I now wanted to shout, Who are you anyways?
All is fine now, but it has taken me five agonizing years of this part of my life's journey to arrive at the point when I can simply say, I am ME and smile when I add, Retired ME! Retirement, I have learned, is a beginning, not an ending.