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From Healthcare to Smoothies: A Fresh Look at Retirement and “Security”

Have you ever been on vacation and said to yourself, “I could live here. Why don’t I just move?”

And then reality smacks you in the face: you have RESPONSIBILITIES and a JOB and a “real” life that is most definitely not about living in paradise.

This week, I bring you the story of Annette Snavely, who, after a respectable, stable, safe career is making the leap that we often convince ourselves is “impossible.”

For more than a decade, Annette has been working as a recruiter in healthcare. Over the years, her manager and mentor has recognized Annette’s intelligence and potential and encouraged her to further her education and advance her career. “You’re really good; you could move into management,” she was told.

Annette listened to and respected the advice she received. She was flattered that they wanted her to move up and appreciated that they noticed she was good at what she did.

But this job was … just a job. Annette wasn’t passionate about it. Still, it was a good job. She didn’t mind it.

And this is the choice many of us face: If where we are is okay, stable and secure, why go looking for some elusive, passionate “calling” that we may or may not find? What if we spend time, energy, and god forbid, money—and we still don’t find the thing that makes our hearts sing? If you’ve got a good thing going and it ain’t broke, why fix it?

And that’s what stops us in our tracks.

We are ok.

We are fine.

We don’t want to rock the boat.

Or, we tell ourselves, “This is as good as it gets. Don’t go chasing after something that might not exist.”

Sometimes that itch to pursue the dream doesn’t go away. It gets itchier. It becomes harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning and go to the job that’s okay.

Annette considered the advice she’d received from her mentor and other managers. She thought about going back to school, but her inner response was a firm “Ugh.”

She trusted that “ugh.” Why spend the money and effort to go back to school for a job she wasn’t passionate about?

However, making the decision not to go to school raised an even bigger question. If she wasn’t going to continue in this career, what would she do?

How did she figure it out?

Her first step was to do some self-reflection.

I thought about what I was passionate about — retail, customer service, love making smoothies, super passionate about being healthy and helping other people be healthy.

I had taken a Cruise about a year prior to this reflection and met a guy who owned a little bar under a thatched hut in St. Martin. After talking with him I remembered thinking how much I'd love to do this, only sell smoothies! It was with this buried realization that I knew this was what I wanted. I immediately called my mom and my best friend.

Mom thought it was ‘cute.’

The second step was taking action. Despite her mom’s lackluster reaction, Annette kept talking about it. And kept researching. And kept meditating on it.

She also made a vision board to get really clear on what she wanted — and what she didn’t. No big resorts. No crowds. Something tropical and a little wild.

She did her homework to determine the best locale. Eventually she landed on Belize. “Belize was always on my mind; English is the language, banking is straightforward and they encourage North Americans to establish businesses there and employ Belizians. It’s still kind of wild, just like I’d imagined, and all the fruit grows there – coconuts, mango, etc. – everything I would need for smoothies.”

Once she’d decided on a location, she continued her research, looking up juice bars and restaurants. She came across a woman who was from Oregon and had become a Realtor in Belize. Then it was time to do some legit field research. Last fall she conducted a reconnaissance mission, flying to Belize to meet the Realtor, explore the cities and check out the different restaurants. Through her research Annette also found a yoga retreat business, Serenity Retreats Belize, and reached out to meet the owner while visiting.

When Annette met with the owner, they connected right away. She liked her business model and the property looked very similar to what she’d always imagined. It turned out that the owner had spent the past two years building her cabanas for yoga retreaters, and had cleared a space for a vegan restaurant and juice bar, but she was tired and didn’t want to take on the extra responsibility and work of running a restaurant!

Annette’s idea for a smoothie stand was part of the perfect solution. While operating a restaurant wasn’t part of her original plan, Annette’s best friend is part of the venture and the two of them are ready for the challenge.

They leave on Friday.

But, but, but…what about retirement? Salary? Her dog?

I asked Annette what she had to give up in order to make this happen. Her answer was brilliant and unexpected.

It all came down to the idea of retirement. I don’t really understand the concept of retiring. Retired to do … what? I don’t want to be in this cold, rainy place and do nothing. Retirement is a made-up game we play in the corporate world. We make money for someone else, and I work really hard so I get to go on a week vacation somewhere?!

It’s not true to what I wanted or who I am. It became not real.

What became real to me was when I would travel somewhere and talk to shop owners. All of a sudden that “security” seemed less secure and less comfortable and became less important than finding satisfaction on a daily basis. Who has my best interest at heart and who can make it happen? Me.

BTW, she is taking her dog, who, no doubt, will be very helpful in the kitchen and during yoga practice.

If you want a fresh perspective on retirement or want to go to Belize for a yoga retreat, look up Annette at Serenity Retreats Belize.

If you think you might need some help with the whole “figuring it out” part, shoot me an email. I love helping people find that lightning-bolt-calling.

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