Monday, September 26, 2011

My Retirement Job

About 20 years ago, when I began realizing that restoring cars was really not a way to make money, I started evaluating my options. At that point I was getting into clock restoration, not with any view of one day doing it to make money, but because I wanted this lovely little clock to run and it was just not in the mood. And, taking it back to the shop where I had bought it 8 times didn’t convince it to behave.

As I began to figure out I liked working on clocks I met a gentleman in the UK who was able to buy British long-case clocks (grandfather clocks to you) at auction in the south of England. By funding him, and developing the skills necessary to move funds to the UK, and to arrange ocean transport, I had the basis for a small antique clock business.

Don’t get me wrong - when I started thinking about long term options I had a lot of things to choose from - making furniture, or stained glass windows, or things in leather, teaching, becoming a personal trainer or a number of other hobbies that could be used to generate income. Even at that point I was thinking about how I could start up a second career - one focused on a hobby I really enjoyed.

Which is why, 20 years ago, I started shifting hobbies. I had no idea that I was going to go as far as I did, but I started getting into old clocks – learning to fix them, buying a few tools, and discovering I really liked working on really small mechanisms. And restoring lovely old clock cases. And writing technical articles on the techniques I use. And teaching others how to repair phenomenal old clocks. All this because an old clock I bought wouldn’t run.

I also started selling cars that I would not ever restore.

I’m not known for doing anything in a small way. This hobby has turned into a wonderful retirement avocation that just happens to generate a bit of income.

Message here – in today’s world, saving for retirement translates to deciding what you are going to do when you retire that will bring in money. My wife and I don’t plan to touch our retirement savings for another 15 or 20 years (God willing) because both of us have shifted into fields that we love.

Rather than finding what you want to do after you have been let go, it is so much more effective to have a plan in place, a business in operation, so that you can approach your “retirement” with an effective path for your next 20 years, doing your own thing – something you enjoy – and hopefully something that makes money.

While I shifted my spare time away from restoring cars, I did keep the lovely little XKE coupe shown above - in front of a covered bridge south of here in Oregon.

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