Friday, December 16, 2011

Second Careers

I have discussed the concept of getting ready to retire in previous posts. In my case, I started getting ready quite a while ago - when I figured out that my primary hobby, restoring old cars, was not likely to build a retirement nest egg. Or provide spending money when I quit earning a living as an engineer.

Part of what makes restoring old clocks viable, or perhaps perfect for me is the fact that I am not constrained on how well I do restorations. In comparison, my day job always had challenges that had to be resolved if not yesterday, than at least before I left for the day. In my early years as an engineer this engendered quite a bit of frustration - not being able to do things to my standard. Fortunately in my later years as an engineer I had figured out that they paid me to get things done - not perfectly, but done. And, by then I had also gotten a lot more serious about my hobbies and learned to focus my desire for perfection on my projects at home.

Why do I bring this up - because I am currently on a plane flying back from Salt Lake City, where I set up a very nice floor-standing Vienna Regulator (what you would likely call a “Grandfather Clock”, except the term Grandfather Clock had not yet been coined when this clock was made). My customer, a lovely lady who loves clocks, was very pleased with the restoration work I had done - as she is with the other two clocks she adopted from me.

In fact, my customers are pretty much always pleased when they receive clocks from me - which likely explains why I have so many repeat customers.

Side note - I recall once visiting with a clock restorer in Oklahoma City, and mentioning I was going to visit a customer who had bought a clock a couple of months earlier. He wanted to know why I was going to visit? I explained that I just wanted to make sure the clock was doing what it was supposed to be doing, and that the customer was not having any problems getting it regulated. His response still rings in my ears: “Why would you ever call a customer - all they ever do is complain”.

For me, the satisfaction of solving all the little challenges while restoring a clock gives me a massive sense of satisfaction. Over and over. But then to see a clock I sold years ago, and realize that I did the restoration - almost shock I fear - it is so gratifying to see a piece that came to me a bit rough, and to then see it years later and not even be able to tell what I had to do in its restoration.

This mild ramble really focuses on how nice it is to be retired, and have the time to do things the way I want. And, then also, the joy of having customers who turn into friends and who really appreciate the workmanship and the quality of the pieces I restore. These are pretty darned significant benefits that make my retirement occupation so gratifying.

No, I can’t tell you what might work for you - I don’t know what makes you happy while generating a product that can perhaps generate a bit of income and a whole lot of satisfaction. But, as this plane starts its descent into Portland, and as I turn off this computer, I wish you godspeed in finding your second career - doing things, generating satisfaction, and ultimately finding happiness.


  1. It looks like my own "thing" will be making clocks from scratch.... both movements and cases. I think that 2012 will see me undertake only six major restorations, and then in 2013 we will see how things shape up. Things have certainly costs so damned much to do today restoration-wise what just a couple years ago was affordable for me. I need to find a new way of thinking!

  2. Good thoughts Jordan - really fits what I just posted - decide what it is you really want to do and go for it. You really need to go for making a clock!

  3. Love what you are doing with the blog man!

  4. Finally a person that puts some real work into a blog. I do like what you have done with the blog.