The Story Of A Purposeful Meander
Where will the backroads take you?
If you’ve been listening to me talk about retirement for any length of time, you’ve likely heard me refer to The Third Act as a series of backroads. Your second act was like a freeway. You flew down it with everybody else with lots of road signs that told you where you all were headed - growing your career, settling down in a home, having a family, making sure everyone was taken care of, including your boss, customers, spouse, kids, extended family and, if you were lucky, friends. Whew! The Third Act is more like backroads. You can meander. You can take side roads and paths and admire the trees and the birds. You can sit for awhile and have a picnic. It’s all up to you! Nobody’s meander is quite like anyone else’s. That’s good and bad - good because you finally have a chance to explore whatever you want to, but bad because it can be tough to figure out how to get started when it’s all new to you and there are no freeway signs. So, for this week’s “story” I thought I’d tell you about my meander over the last 18 months. Yours won’t be like mine, but at least you’ll know what the heck I’m talking about with my backroads analogy.
My Main Road
I left work with a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do with my time. I wanted to do some cleaning, some purging and I wanted to get a little business started coaching, writing and talking about planning for the lifestyle aspects of retirement. (I would have had travel as part of that list, but I retired at the height of the pandemic…) I had my schedule figured out and I knew what time I would devote to what activities. I had some ideas for my business, starting with a website and coaching. In order to get people to understand what I meant by planning for a “Rockin’ Third Act” and to let potential clients know about my website, I needed a way to communicate with the world, and this newsletter was born.
Side Road #1 - Newsletter curator
I realized I needed to get better at writing and promotion. As luck would have it, I happened upon a little ad from Patch Media about a “hyper-local” newsletter that they were trying to start. They were looking for curators. It seemed like a professional news organization might have some ideas about how to write and promote a newsletter, and I figured I could learn from them if I became a curator for them. So, on a bit of a whim, I applied. Lo and behold, I got the job. I now curate 2 local newsletters and get paid for the privilege. It’s a nice side gig, some nice mad money and a nice learning experience.
Side Road #2 - A Dead End
About a year into the gig, Patch started “suspending” some of the newsletters that weren’t bringing in the advertising. One of my newsletters was suspended. They gave me another one, so I still have 2, but it got me thinking about whether I still wanted an income stream while I was getting my Rockin’ The Third Act thing going and, if so, what it would be if my Patch gig went away. I went on Upwork to see what was out there for someone with my skills. I even applied to a couple of gigs. Nobody bit.
Side Road #3 - Volunteer Tax Preparer
I was looking for a way to expand my skills into something that would be easy to fall back on if I ever did decide I needed a new side income and, at the same time, I was looking for ways to give back after my very fortunate career. As I was curating a newsletter I found an article about an opportunity to expand my skills through a United Way sponsored tax preparation program. Well, there’s something that everybody needs, even in a downturn. So, I’m getting certified to prepare tax returns for people with lower income that need a little help and I’ll be volunteering locally for the tax season, gaining some skills and helping some folks while I’m at it. Nice.
Taking The Fork In My Main Road
Back to my main road, after a few “pilot” sessions with friends that agreed to be guinea pigs for my coaching, I decided coaching isn’t really my thing after all. I like a determined end point before I begin, so I decided that I’m better at writing, creating tools and leading discussions. At that point, my workshop was born. I now teach my Rockin’ The Third Act workshop at adult extension programs and I love it! Someday I may try to break into the corporate world, too, teaching workshops in the corporate environment to help folks get comfortable with taking the plunge into their Third Act.
Still Plenty Of Meandering To Do
So, I started out wanting to build a small coaching business and now, 18 months later, I’m a newsletter curator and writer, a workshop leader and a volunteer tax preparer, among other things. I know for many (most?) people, writing and tax preparation sounds like more torture than fun, but it’s the journey I’ve created and I LOVE IT! I have plenty of time on my backroads for picnics and stopping to smell the flowers and I’ve learned a ton, but the best part is that there are still many, many backroads out there! I wonder where they will take me next?
I hope you will find something to retire to - be it a passion, a bucket list, a grandchild or a new venture. But I also hope you will be open to the joys of travelling the backroads. There’s some beautiful scenery out here!