If you’ve been following my blog posts for any length of time you will have hopefully picked up on two main themes. First, although it may not be the most desirable thing to have happen, closing a business is not uncommon in today’s economy. Second, when you close a business and you happen to be in your late to mid-50’s, it really isn’t the end of the world. I have pointed out several times that if you are in your 50’s and beyond, you have far more value in the workforce than you may realize. This is one of the points that helped guide us through our midlife career change.
There’s Also That Other Thing…
I would be remiss in not mentioning that for my wife, Brenda, and I, our transitioning was made much easier because we each already had potential career options in place. You should already know that we actually turned two hobbies into careers. I truly understand that this is not always the case when you are faced with the need to shift your work focus. However, it also allowed me to share with you that sometimes the answer is already there. We just need to be pushed into a place where a decision has to be made on whether or not to jump ship or start over - with something we already have invested time into but as just a sideline instead of a serious venture.
Where Am I Going With This?
Well, as it turns out, my life is going to go through yet another career shift of sorts. I was elected to a Councillor seat in our local government following the Municipal Election on October 20. I am part of a five-member Town Council (one mayor, four councillors) and it is a four year term. This is a very different direction for me, although I have already been heavily involved in my community. In a way, I see this opportunity as the ‘next step’ in helping do good things for others. I have been volunteering extensively over the past 30+ years in my community. I enjoy working with others who are trying to improve various conditions. Holding a local government seat should be all of this and a whole lot more. The other members of Council who were elected with me share the same desires and I can’t wait to see where this takes each all of us and our community.
What Does It Mean?
There are going to be some adjustments made in our household, without a doubt. I’ll still be able to write for my existing ghostwriting clients. If anything, I appreciate even more how flexible my writing career is as that should allow me to put in many hours monthly on Town Council and still maintain my writing client base. It won’t have much of an impact on Brenda’s venture as I’ll still be able to participate in vending activities with her. There are going to be exceptions, but overall I can honestly say that our lives are at a place where we can flex around the other commitments much easier than we could in our previous careers. As for me, personally, the election to Town Council means I am part of a team that can do great things for our community. I am truly looking forward to the challenges to come in the next four years in that position.
Find Out More About Our First Midlife Career Changes
I have an eBook I published shortly after Brenda and I closed our weekly newspaper business. It outlines how you can make a career change later in life and shares tips and advice on how to do it smoothly. You can find it on Amazon – “Surviving Midlife Career Changes.”
If you were to ask me to describe the past month to you I’d have to say that there was a lot of activity. So much so, that the wheels on our car seemed to always be spinning us to somewhere. September turned out to be one of the busiest months both Brenda and I have had in quite some time. I am a little bit amazed that we were able to keep up such a high pace in order to get through it all.
My month was filled with the usual set of meetings for the non-profit groups I am active in. Although most of the meetings were of the regular once-per-month variety, I did have a few additional committee meetings that fit into the mix. One proud moment was on September 21, 2018 when I cut the ribbon to officially open an interpretive walking tour for a group I have been the Chairman of for the past five years. That was a good day filled with stories, song, food and great visiting.
As I had been promoting myself as running for a seat in the local municipal election since January, this month was where it all suddenly became very real. Nominations closed on September 14, 2018 and I had to have my nomination papers in order and submitted prior to that. I went in a few days before and was pleased to discover that all my documents were correct and that I had finally become an ‘official’ candidate. I have been actively promoting myself online to this point.
Brenda and I have continued to vend JamBusters! and Watkins Products at the Oliver Indoor Flea Market. One weekend I went alone as Bren was busy with another activity and we both took JamBusters! on the road to the annual Similkameen Sizzle pepper festival in Keremeos, BC on September 15, 2018. We also vended together at the final Princeton Chamber of Commerce outdoor market three days later. We will be skipping the final weekend of the month so we can take a short break. Brenda was working strings of eight and ten hour days canning in the kitchen to keep up with the demand and to fill inventory.
Although my job order number is lower this month than last, the number of articles written is very likely close to a record. At one point I was writing between 6,500 and 9,000 words a day to keep up with the number of articles that were ordered. I stopped taking orders a week before we planned on going away for a few days so that I could completely catch up. That meant a week plus of ten and twelve hour days for me. The goal was a break, so the work is always worth it.
Keeping Track Of Our Midlife Career Changes
We obviously like to stay busy and I often look back to when our lives were just as complicated but far less productive. That is what I see the most about the changes we have experienced in the past couple of years. The changes have made us very productive. I’m pleased to see that this is the case.
I don’t really see myself actually retiring in the sense that one who reaches a certain age quits working. This is probably why I have never really considered retirement as part of my future plans. If I told you what both my wife, Brenda are currently doing in our lives, you would likely say we are working two full-time careers, even if we happen to be working for ourselves.
That’s the ways it has been for at least the past year. Brenda has been spending a lot of time in the kitchen and I have been spending a lot of time upstairs in the home office writing. We both realize that what we are doing are perfect fits for our skills and commitment levels. You could say we are probably doing what we should be doing with our lives at this point.
This is the specialty food product line we developed in 2014. Brenda has a knack for creating some pretty awesome jellies, jams and salsas and this has really taken off. Our original approach was to sell the produces from our downtown storefront location on Bridge Street in our hometown of Princeton, British Columbia. That worked out for the first little while.
Eventually, JamBusters! took over the front entrance to our office. When we closed the downtown business in mid-2016, JamBusters! was already in the process of establishing a regular vending schedule. Without the storefront we shifted to vending as often as we could. In August 2017 we added vending at the Oliver Indoor Flea Market in Oliver, BC on weekends.
The regular exposure, combined with a few key seasonal outdoor and indoor vending events has helped to elevate the JamBusters! brand to a full-time job for Brenda who still makes each and every product by hand in our kitchen. Summertime is intense with all the produce ripening at about the same time so inventory gets expanded and replenished at this time.
Looseink Freelance Ninja
I launched my ghostwriting career in early 2014 to help increase our household income when things slowed down with the newspaper. I quickly gained a handful of clients and cultivated business through them and actively pursued other writing jobs. I started writing full-time in September 2016 as the newspaper had been closed by this time and freed up some time.
Over the course of the next year I built my clientele to the point where I had been hired as a staff writer for two different marketing firms and had several other regular customers. Instead of writing a few days a week, I had built the flow of business up to the point where some weeks I am writing every day. My plan is to keep it to no more than five days a week when possible.
Where’s The Semi-Retirement Part?
That’s a good question. We were too busy going through our midlife career changes to slow down, I guess. Regardless, the home-based businesses we have give us a lot of freedom, even if it doesn’t sound that way. As long as both of us stay organized, we can shuffle our workload to the point where we can get partial days off to focus on other things that need to be done. To me, that’s what semi-retirement looks like. I know I’d rather keep doing this.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.