You don’t have to wait

Posted on Posted in Article, Blog posts, Time-4-Goals Training

Why wait until you retire, or until you have "enough money" before starting the important things in your life?

When Patrick Pichette, CFO of Google announced his retirement last year he explained it was to spend more time with his family. He then went on and explained his rationale in a little more depth on his Google + page (see below for the transcript).

I think it commendable that he did this. Many people have a tendency to put off things until they are "financially prepared". Pichette, although clearly not short of money, could easily have continued dedicating himself to Google and put off retirement for later. And its funny how "enough money" in absolute terms means different things to different people. But in relative terms, it is often between 30% and 50% more than we currently have - and so chasing it is like trying to get to the (ever-shifting) end of the rainbow.

We want enough money in the bank to feel safe, enough money to buy that little beach-house, enough money to travel, enough money to retire .... and by the time that comes, life has passed us by. The kids are grown up, the quality of our minds are making it difficult to do those things we dreamed of doing and our energy levels are making us less able.

It really is a pity that we have this tendency to put off doing what we want to do - as it really is not necessary. Through simply understanding what is important and dedicating sufficient time and energy to those things, there is normally no need to wait. I am sure, like me, you know those individuals who do seem to manage to do it all - spend quality time with their family, go on exciting holidays, initiate and support charities and still have a successful career.

The good news is that these people do not have some special powers that you and I do not have. They have the same 24 hours in a day. Their difference is generally that they are highly focussed on the things that are important and arrange their lives such that they allocate sufficient resources to them - it is really a question of balance.

The process we recommend is not rocket-science:

  • Make a list of the things that you really want to do in life (note that in many cases these tend to be externally focussed)
  • Select a subset (2 to 5 items) of these to focus on for the next 6 months
  • Develop a rough plan of how to get there - it does not have to be overly sophisticated: just the broad steps and some milestones
  • On a weekly basis prioritise time in your diary to make progress against these - and keep track of your achievements.

It is likely that you have read similar advice elsewhere and probably have tried something akin to this - only to find that somehow these objectives get pushed away by the urgency of work issues and daily life. Then after a while, without having built up a habit, we return to the rat-wheel of reaction to immediate pressures.

We have designed Time4Goals to try and help our customers push through this initial cycle of try - fail - return to "normal". The system uses the ubiquitousness of our smartphones, the science of gamification (to build rewards and fun into the process), the behavioural psychology behind developing habits and the power of visualisation, to power us through to a rhythm of success and achievement in our personal lives.

 

 

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How Time4Goals works

Patrick Pichette, Google global CFO's retirement announcement .....

After nearly 7 years as CFO, I will be retiring from Google to spend more time with my family. Yeah, I know you've heard that line before. We give a lot to our jobs. I certainly did. And while I am not looking for sympathy, I want to share my thought process because so many people struggle to strike the right balance between work and personal life.

This story starts last fall. A very early morning last September, after a whole night of climbing, looking at the sunrise on top of Africa - Mt Kilimanjaro. Tamar (my wife) and I were not only enjoying the summit, but on such a clear day, we could see in the distance, the vast plain of the Serengeti at our feet, and with it the calling of all the potential adventures Africa has to offer. (see exhibit #1 - Tamar and I on Kili).

And Tamar out of the blue said "Hey, why don't we just keep on going". Let's explore Africa, and then turn east to make our way to India, it's just next door, and we're here already. Then, we keep going; the Himalayas, Everest, go to Bali, the Great Barrier Reef... Antarctica, let's go see Antarctica!?" Little did she know, she was tempting fate.

I remember telling Tamar a typical prudent CFO type response- I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It's not time yet, There is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us - Boards, Non Profits, etc

But then she asked the killer question: So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air. 

A few weeks later, I was happy back at work, but could not shake away THE question: When is it time for us to just keep going? And so began a reflection on my/our life. Through numerous hours of cycling last fall (my introvert happy place) I concluded on a few simple and self-evident truths:

First, The kids are gone. Two are in college, one graduated and in a start-up in Africa. Beautiful young adults we are very proud of. Tamar honestly deserves most of the credit here. She has done a marvelous job. Simply marvelous. But the reality is that for Tamar and I, there will be no more Cheerios encrusted minivan, night watch because of ear infections, ice hockey rinks at 6:00am. Nobody is waiting for us/needing us. 

Second, I am completing this summer 25-30 years of nearly non-stop work (depending on how you wish to cut the data). And being member of FWIO, the noble Fraternity of Worldwide Insecure Over-achievers, it has been a whirlwind of truly amazing experiences. But as I count it now, it has also been a frenetic pace for about 1500 weeks now. Always on - even when I was not supposed to be. Especially when I was not supposed to be. And am guilty as charged - I love my job (still do), my colleagues, my friends, the opportunities to lead and change the world.

Third, this summer, Tamar and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. When our kids are asked by their friends about the success of the longevity of our marriage, they simply joke that Tamar and I have spent so little time together that "it's really too early to tell" if our marriage will in fact succeed. 
If they could only know how many great memories we already have together. How many will you say? How long do you have? But one thing is for sure, I want more. And she deserves more. Lots more.

Allow me to spare you the rest of the truths. But the short answer is simply that I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road - celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine mid life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted.

Working at Google is a privilege, nothing less. I have worked with the best of the best, and know that I am leaving Google in great hands. I have made so many friends at Google it's not funny. Larry, Sergey, Eric, thank you for friendship. I am forever grateful for letting me be me, for your trust, your warmth, your support, and for so much laughter through good and not so good times.

To be clear, I am still here. I wish to transition over the coming months but only after we have found a new Googley CFO and help him/her through an orderly transition, which will take some time. 

In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade offs, especially between business/professional endeavours and family/community. And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful. Carpe Diem.