Take Charge of Your Retirement in an Unpredictable World

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Take Charge of Your Retirement in an Unpredictable World

Do you ever have the feeling that life is like an out-of-control rollercoaster? That you’re hurtling towards the future without you being able to take charge of your retirement?

The world is unpredictable at the best of times. The pandemic has drastically changed many lives. Life may never be the same again.

This morning I received an email from a woman named Lucy, who had been made redundant from her job shortly before the pandemic, and had started holding informal yoga classes for friends to supplement her income.

Once lockdowns began, of course, she couldn’t.

And although she tried running classes online, it didn’t work out. She’s an older woman, and her friends are older people. “Online” classes weren’t the right fit for her audience.

So she decided to take charge of her retirement and her future by starting an online business about her hobby. Talking to me was part of her “due diligence.”

Was she sure that creating a business from a hobby would work? No. But if she didn’t do something, both her current earnings and her future retirement plans would come to nothing. Her pension would be meager. Topping it up, she saw, was critical.

It all seemed so unpredictable, so scary.

I encouraged Lucy that taking charge of her own future, having a profitable retirement — in every sense of the word, is so doable.

How do I know? Because I run a successful online business myself, and I work every day with people who do the same.

Take Charge of Your Retirement in an Unpredictable World

Stop the Rollercoaster — I Want to Get Off!

It’s human nature to be worried about the future. Having been an “employee” for over 35 years, I was terrified of life after retirement. The regular paycheck would be a thing of the past.

Although I was lucky enough to have a government pension, it wasn’t great and certainly wouldn’t allow me a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.

I felt like I was giving up control of my financial security by retiring. Even small things I had taken for granted would no longer be available to me — being able to indulge my nephews at birthdays and Christmas, for example, or taking my 80-year-old mother to Italy for a few weeks every year.

I knew that the financial constraints were going to be hard. What I realized, though, was that the key to all of it was in my hands. I could take charge of my retirement and stop the rollercoaster.

There’s good news to be found in the simplest and unlikeliest of places. For me, a city girl, the hobby that ended up as my website was backyard chickens.

Raising Chickens

And let’s be honest: if a website about chickens can be turned into a successful  online business that helped me pay off debts and supplement my pension, anything can.

(Want to know how, and how successful? Take a look here.)

So shake off any negative visions of retirement. Your future is in your hands, and you can take charge now, as long as you have three things:

  • a topic that makes you smile
  • the motivation to succeed, and
  • the willingness to learn

Let me help you along the path to taking charge of your retirement. These five steps will make it less scary.

Step #1: Take Charge of Your Retirement Dreams

Money is critical when it comes to our futures, and the economic environment is notoriously unpredictable. We only have to look at the past twelve months to know that.

But it’s not everything. Finding happiness is especially important at this point in our life. So you may be pleased to know that within that happy place you may also find your key to financial security.

When we’re working, happiness can come in all kinds of ways: a sense of achievement in a job well done, professional pride, having a sense of purpose. When we retire, we need to consider what will take their place.

When I was coming up to retirement, my dream was a big one — a home in Italy. I never thought I’d be able to get there — but I did.

For you, it might not be that big a dream. After all, we’ve learned recently about the really important things: spending time with family and friends. A hug from a grandchild. A long walk on a winter’s day.

My aim here is to make it clear that it’s possible to achieve both financial and emotional security from a hobby. You can combine your own interests — those things that make you smile — with financial success, which in turn allows you to spend more time with loved ones.

You may be asking: Don’t most online businesses cover business-type things, like marketing or creating apps?

Let me point you in the direction of former teacher Susan Dugdale’s story.

Susan’s success came from tragedy. Her sister’s death made her realize her love for creative writing could help others, supplement her retirement income, and allow her time with her family, all at the same time.

What financial needs do you have in retirement? What are your dreams? How do they differ from your needs?

And what interests do you have that could help other people, and make money for you at the same time?

Can’t think of any? Read on…

Step #2: Find Your Why

Once you’ve watched television for a couple of days, you realize it’s not going to prevent boredom in retirement — and it certainly doesn’t bring in any money.

So you need to think about purpose. If you don’t have purpose, you may end up feeling lethargic, even depressed.

Here’s how Mike Miller expresses it in his video interview:

“I know big-time football and basketball coaches and when they retire, they don’t feel relevant any more. I am doing something that makes me feel relevant, and I make money doing it. What could be better?”

What gives Mike that sense of purpose? Simple: his ability to share with the world his knowledge of all things Florida. It’s his hobby, and his passion.

How the Roads Less Traveled Made All the Difference for This Retired Engineer

The satisfaction comes from supplementing his pension while helping his site visitors.

Think about your “why.” That warm feeling in your heart; the thing that gets you up in the morning. 

Then, imagine the immense satisfaction there would be from communicating that to the world while creating an income stream at the same time.

That’s exactly what “Oma” Gerhild Fulson did. Gerhild used a passion for her German heritage to create a successful recipe site. The income from that site funds her not-for-profit Christian Ministry mission.

Satisfaction? Off the scale!

What would give you real satisfaction? Which retirement hobbies, what knowledge or skills do you have that, like Mike and Gerhild, you can share with the world and make it just that little bit better?

You have, or will have, time and freedom. Use it to think about your “Why?”

Step #3: Find Your Happy Place in Your Hobbies

If work was a place of fulfillment for you, after retirement there may be a hole left where your job and your colleagues used to be. The trick is to fill it by finding your happy place.

Where might that be? And how might it make a financial contribution to your life?

That was a question Vickie Danielsen asked herself as she lived through a life of abuse. She dared to dream of escaping to a life where she was emotionally and financially secure.

Vickie’s happy place was also her hobby… knitting. Surely knitting couldn’t make enough income for Vickie to survive?

How Her Passion for Knitting Helped End a Lifetime of Abuse

You’ll be surprised, again. Because Vickie took a risk, pushed beyond her comfort zone, and arrived at a place of joy and security:

“I love working on something I built and created. Having the ability to make my own decisions adds to the freedom I finally have in my life. I love every minute of it.”

This is a fun part of creating a secure future. Virtually any hobby, any passion, can be turned into a successful online business. You just have to reach into the fun part of your psyche.

For example, do you like theme parks? For Carl Trent, his passion for Disney became a mission to help others have a great time at WDW. He describes his online journey as “just a lot of fun.”

What started as a side hustle for Carl evolved into a flourishing business with a team of 50 people, and finally into an asset that Carl sold for several million dollars.

Imagine — having fun and making enough money to retire comfortably. So let’s help you take charge of your retirement and find your happy place!

Take some time out. Settle in a quiet place with a drink of your choice. Let your mind drift. What is it, that thing that brings a smile to your lips? What hobby do you love to do, or would if you had the time?

Don’t discount anything, however bizarre it may seem.

If you’re too overwhelmed with anxiety to find something you genuinely love to do now, think about what made you happy as a child. Find that child-like joy that makes you feel warm inside whenever you think about it, that fills you with excitement. The thing that you’d actively want to get up in the morning to work on.

If you’re the age where retirement is at the front of your mind, you probably won’t want to risk putting on your roller skates again (although…).

Perhaps you love taking photos. Then these six photography business ideas will provide food for thought.

Perhaps your hobby is music-related. Maybe you have a much prized record collection dating back to your teens. You love listening to those classics — but how could they make money for you?

Meet Danny Sandrik, who did just that.

Vinyl Records Nostalgia Grows Into Fun and Profitable Retirement Business

What ties these diverse people and topics together?

A hobby they love, turned into a way of supplementing their income.

Does it happen overnight? No. It takes hard work, and “stick-ability.”

Can it work? Could the knowledge you’ve gained in keeping rabbits for your kids and now grandkids earn you money?

You bet it can. More or less any hobby can be turned into a successful business, with the right process, tools and support.

Talking of which…

Step #4: Find Your Community

Isn’t creating a website a lonely business, though? The word “solopreneur,” after all, implies being alone. You may be happy with the topic you choose, but having had the benefit of colleagues all around you during your working life, where will the support come from now?

It’s important. There’s evidence from the Mayo Clinic that older adults who have strong community ties live longer:

“…participants reporting social contact with 6 or 7 friends on a weekly basis had a 24% lower mortality risk than did those in contact with 0 or 1 friend.”Mayo Clinic

If part of your retirement planning involves moving to another area, or even another country, how will you rebuild your social ties?

I did it. How did I fill my gap? With new colleagues. I’m not really a “join a walking group” kind of person, so I spent (and still spend) a lot of time in our forums and at our Zoom meetings. They’re my happy place.

Retirement Zoom Call

They could be yours, too.

Step 5: Believe in Yourself

Inevitably, money is a big part of taking charge of your retirement. It’s not the only thing — a large pot of money doesn’t guarantee a healthy retirement, or supportive relationships.

But in the real world, we can’t live without it, particularly given how long we’re likely to be retired, and the financial problems of most pension plans.

So if part of your happy plan is travel, or part of your “why” is giving a monthly donation to a dog shelter (although your time might be just as valuable), or if you just want to sustain the same lifestyle but you know your pension won’t cover it,  you need to believe that combining your passion with your ability will take you there.

Retirement is the end of one chapter of our lives. It’s the beginning of another, where we each have a choice to make.

We have an opportunity to grasp this scary future and make it submit to our plans for retirement.

The thought of an online business frightened me. And a successful online business — about chickens? I mean, who’d have thought…

But it’s what I’ve done. I dared to dream, and now live in Italy. I took control of my emotional and intellectual wellbeing, and decided to take my hobby and help others interested in the same thing.

As a result, I took charge of my low retirement income and grew it by around four times.

I’ve never regretted a single minute of it. Nor have my nephews and mother, who continue to benefit from more than the occasional treat…

Mother enjoying retirement

My mother enjoys a holiday at our home in Italy – and meets one of my chickens.

Mike Miller believed. So did Gerhild, Vickie, Carl and Danny. And dozens of others, who started with no knowledge of how, and, in some cases, of what.

They took charge of their life, created a secure future and thrive in retirement.

If they can do it, you can do it too.

Take Charge of Your Retirement in an Unpredictable WorldTake Charge of Your Retirement in an Unpredictable WorldTake Charge of Your Retirement in an Unpredictable World
Cath Andrews

Cath Andrews

Cath Andrews is Solo Build It!'s Content Team Lead. Having taken early retirement from work in social care, she describes her "day job" - her online business, Raising Happy Chickens, like this: I spend my time doing what my mother calls “playing on that blasted computer all day” — and I love it. Knowing that other people benefit from my knowledge gives me goose-bumps. And goose-bumps are as important to me as the money my online business makes.
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