Our lives took a real turn three years ago this week. It was on July 25, 2016 when we printed the final issue of the Similkameen News Leader, a weekly community newspaper I had owned and operated since February 2004. Our future was still very much undecided at that time. All we knew for sure was that closing our business was going to bring about a lot of changes in our lives although we were not all that certain what kind of changes were going to take place.
Business Was Bad
There was no good way to say it. The last three years we spent in the newspaper business was very stressful and equally difficult. With a corporately-owned competitor, social media growing in leaps and bounds and changes in the newspaper industry that we could not keep up with, something had to give. Looking back on it, I’m glad the decision was made to close the doors when it was as there was no indication at the time that things were going to get much better.
Our Last Issue
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat saddened by the way things ended. We tried to keep things light and upbeat in the editorial content of the final few issues but by the time the final one rolled around, I was ready for it to end. I needed a break from the six and sometimes seven days a week I worked on producing a weekly newspaper. Brenda needed a break from having to try to chase after outstanding bills that we probably knew were not going to be paid.
The Midlife Career Change
We went away for our first-ever holiday days after our last issue hit the street. Our office closed the day after our final issue and was open off and on for the following month. When we returned from our holiday, we were refreshed, rested and ready to proceed with the remaining business related to shutting down our business. That proved to be a massive job moving files, computers and office equipment to our home. Some of these items still sit in storage.
Eventually we got around to thinking about what our next step would be. For awhile, it was to move away and start over somewhere else. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we were already over two years into our new careers without seeing it. I had started freelance writing in January 2014 to help cover some of our bills when business with the newspaper got soft. Bren was also canning interesting jams, jellies and other preserves that we vended on weekends.
When we had that ‘ah-ha’ moment it made us realize we were going to be okay as we had already launched our new business ventures and were well into our next career path. That honestly took away a lot of worry and before we knew it, our struggle was over. The downtown Similkameen News Leader office was vacant by 5:00 PM on August 31, 2016 and our third quarter transition was in full swing. We haven’t looked back much since then.
What We Carry Forward
I have to admit that the third anniversary of the closure of the Similkameen News Leader sort of snuck up on me but I’m not saddened by it like I was in previous years. If anything, the date of our last day in business – July 26, 2016 – marks the beginning of what both Brenda and I have been able to accomplish as entrepreneurs since then. I am proud of what we have been able to do by making use of the transferable skills we picked up in the years we were in print media.
What I don’t do much of these days is dwell on what we had when it was successful and how things fell apart thanks to several influences beyond our control. I still meet people in town who tell me they miss the News Leader – about once or twice a month these days – and that makes me appreciate what we did with that business. I’m also wearing my News Leader shirts more frequently. They have a way of reminding me that everything worked out as it was meant to be.
What Does It All Mean?
Well, for me, I learned that closing a business is not really a failure. If anything, it was a good business decision. As I like to say, we had to stop the bleeding sometime and we did it at probably the right time. It also showed me that both Bren and I are smarter entrepreneurs than I thought we were with the two home-based businesses we continue to operate to this day. Brenda’s is JamBusters! and it has always held its own without us having to support it in any way.
My business is Looseink Freelance Ninja. I have clients in 40+ countries around the world and keep adding to that monthly. You could say we are successful because we didn’t take closing the News Leader as a hit. Instead, we looked at it as freeing us up to concentrate on our individual ventures. It also means that you can do the same. If you need some direction on how to make that happen, I have written an eBook on the subject. It is titled “Surviving Midlife Career Changes.” It is available at Amazon by clicking HERE.
It has been almost three years since we were more or less ‘forced’ into making midlife career changes. At the time is was equal parts scary and exciting. Okay, maybe somewhat scarier than exciting but that did eventually change. Both my wife, Brenda and I are fully immersed in our new careers that we moved into late in our lives and enjoying them. So, what exactly is so good about changing careers in your late 50s? Here are a few reasons that I can come up with:
1 – There’s A Lot More Freedom Than You Think
This is very true, at least in our situation. Instead of looking for employment in different fields, we chose to focus on home-based businesses that we were both operating as casual sidelines. The benefits we have seen from this approach have been many. They range from lower overhead and expenses (no rent, no additional utility costs, etc.) to having complete control over what we choose to work on each and every day. Yes, we do have commitments, but the pressure is gone.
2 – Since I Just Mentioned It, There’s Less Stress
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any stress in the beginning. I’d also be lying if I said there wasn’t any stress a little later than that. However, the reality is that stress is virtually non-existent these days as we are both well-established in our new careers. It didn’t happen overnight, either. But now that we are there, there are few things we worry about anymore. Yes, there are things that are still unfinished, but nothing worth getting twisted out of shape about.
3 – We Are Setting Examples For Others To Follow
We both know that there are some people we encounter who learn about our third quarter transition and seem quite taken by what we did. At the time we had no real guidance. There was no rule book or schedule of events to follow in order to make the transition seamless and as painless as possible. We more or less wrote our own rule book and have been ‘teaching’ others how to make a midlife career change happen successfully. We did fluke some of it.
4 – We Like What We Are Doing In Our Lives
Probably the biggest bonus to come out of our midlife career changes is that both Brenda and I are doing things we really enjoy doing. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always enjoyed any job I’ve had opting to find the positives over the negatives but it really shows that we are having a good time with both of our new career paths. I think also that if you enjoy what you are doing, it eliminates the stress, worry and other situations that suck the fun out of it.
Need Some Encouragement With Your Third Quarter Transition?
One of the easiest things you can do to get the information you need on your midlife career change it by learning from someone who has been there. Brenda and I have gone through that change and it inspired one of my eBooks, “Surviving Midlife Career Changes.” All you need to do is download your copy and in it you will discover valuable tips that will not only guide you, but will encourage you each and every step of the way through your career change.
I think I have to quit saying I am in semi-retirement because what I am doing these days is far from that. It all started with the midlife career changes that both my wife and I were pushed into making when we closed our newspaper business. If you know anything about us, you will know that Brenda and I transitioned into new careers when we flipped individual hobbies into full-time business opportunities. You could say that from that point forward we haven’t slowed down.
The fact that I was able to take a part-time freelance writing gig and turn it into a full-time web content ghostwriting business seems to be unusual to many. I get it. Not everyone realizes that most of what you read online was written by people like me. However, it feeds my endless flow of creativity and essentially keeps me from doing something stupid. I’m just over five years into this career and I see no end in sight with customers coming to me almost daily for my work.
I try to downplay my involvement in Brenda’s new career. She started making interesting jams and jellies at about the same time I started ghostwriting. Although I was not as connected to her homemade specialty food business in the beginning as I am now, we have both helped to grow it to where it is now. What was originally a single product has expanded to over 75 different items that I actively market online along with the business and all other promotional activities.
I’d be lying if I said I had planned this all along. While I have dabbled in local politics from the media side of the table, getting elected to our local Town Council has brought a number of different rewards to my life. It has enabled me to use some of my existing skills in ways I have never had the chance to use them before. It has also helped me to focus on tasks that are very different to what I am used to. I am really enjoying being a local politician in a team dynamic.
Far Busier Now Than I Ever Have Been In My Life
Weekends are reserved for vending with Brenda. That is when I can truly feel part of the business we have built together. Weekdays are split between my daily writing tasks and the many meetings I have scheduled as my role as Councillor. In fact, one week this month saw me attend a total of eight meetings in a five day stretch. It was never like that in the newspaper reporting part of the business. There is no doubt that my midlife career change is very involved.
Not All Midlife Career Changes Are Like This
I am aware that the three careers I currently have are more than likely the exception to the rule. Normally a midlife career change is a transition into something new, but just one path and typically a choice that is less hectic than the original. Sure, I do have days with not much scheduled in them and I do enjoy those breaks but I also enjoy the pace that I am currently keeping. My careers keep my satisfied and provide me with many different rewards.
For More Information On Midlife Career Changes
If you are finding that it is time for you to make the change, let me provide some guidance. For details on how to navigate a midlife career change, download my eBook, “Surviving Midlife Career Changes.” In it I discuss many aspects of a midlife career change that will help to prepare you for yours. I also include tips on job interviews because they are nothing like you remember them. Let my experience in making the transition assist you as you go through yours.
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.