Getting older is not a choice, but getting wiser is.
Back in the day when I was still doing new year’s resolutions stuff, I would make myself set a series of goals to achieve in the next 12 months. While I tried to be as specific as possible, there was one thing I dared not to write down: Retirement age 50.
Too young? I thought it was just wishful thinking, an unattainable goal. So I had never bothered to include it as one of my long-term aims to work towards.
Well, that was between 2001 and 2004, I was in my early 30’s, ambitious and driven, had a steady job that paid the bills. The idea of retirement was somewhat too far away in the future to consider.
Surprise! Nearly two decades later, who would’ve thought… I quitted the last job in March 2020. Yes, I was exactly 50!
Following my resignation, I got time to do a bit soul searching. It gradually dawned on me that I did not want to go back to full-time work again.
After weighing up the pros and cons, I knew I was ready for change. So that was it! I decided to get out of the rat race, make a fresh start and do my own thing. In May 2021 I went to announce my retirement on Facebook, and have never looked back since.
A career trajectory came to a halt. What’s next? A new trajectory called lifelong learning has taken off. Now I am an artist, my own boss. the CEO of Ted Tsai for life. In the process of mastering my craft, I expect myself to show up everyday and be professional all the way.
Why dedicating to lifelong learning when I also have the freedom to do less? It’s a good question. The short answer is: Respect.
Here’s a family story I can share with you.
My dad was a self-made man, a veteran investor back in the 80’s when we were living in Taiwan. Through years of learning and analysing the stock market, he had built a wealth of knowledge enough to turn him into an expert in the field. The most obvious thing I saw then was people from his business circle often came to him for advice. I would say that was his moment of glory.
Later when we migrated to Australia in 1990. He became a different man, the opposite of who he was in his heyday. I remember he said from the outset that he was too old to learn English. But he was only 49!
Consequently, a language barrier quickly took a toll. It cost him his potential to make it here. Feeling like a fish out of water, an outsider in a new country, his confidence was eroded by a sense of helplessness. It was tough to watch him going from hero to zero in such a short space of time.
The main takeaway from my dad’s experience is: Never stop learning.
Going forward, it feels 2022 has passed by quickly. As I write this, we are entering into the last quarter of the year, the change of seasons is on the horizon. Our spring is on its way. Yes, time flies!
Well, I am not that old yet in case you are wondering. Still a decade away (or 13 years to be precise) from being called senior citizen. It may be a euphemism for old person or retired person, but senior citizen is what I aspire to as I get older. Someone who is sharp, young at heart, interesting or perhaps a role model for others to look up to. Older and wiser, respect is not only earned but also learned. And that is where lifelong learning comes in…