Sports Day!

Life is a marathon, not a sprint! Well, that’s what they say, but is it actually a more true reflection that life is more like the Olympics? Lots of events, some you are great at others you suck at. Loads of preparation for the big day where you come away a winner or a runner-up?

Stick with me. I’m easing myself into this month’s topic.

So, the catalyst for this months Vicarious careers has been the Financial Times, inviting me back to talk about early retirement with them. Among other things, we got on to the subject of my view that life is lived in chapters. For the sake of sticking with the sporting theme, let’s call them events.

Think about it, how often has your goal post moved? The imaginary finish line you had in place shifted? I touch on this loosely in my “Find your why, why?” article, They change, so how can life be one long linear race to the finish?

Key moments in your life, experiences both good and bad, all shape how we run our race. For some of us, it’s not even a race, it’s an enjoyable meander taking things as they come.

That’s not me, I have always been a next station kind of person, rarely looking out of the window on route and missing the scenery in the process, confident when I arrive at my chosen destination it will fulfill everything I hoped for, and I can put my feet up for a while.

The reality? It’s never worked out that way. The station either failed to arrive or it took longer than planned. On other occasions, I arrived at the station and realised the destination was wrong all along. I’m a work in progress and I’m trying to stop and ‘smell the roses’ a little more than I used to, but enough with the analogies, let’s get specific.

In this past week alone, I have chatted with individuals who absolutely confirmed the reality of living in chapters. Once I have sold you on the concept, we can look at what that means for our game plan.

Case 1,

I received a call from an individual who is financially set for life but has asked for my help to try to restore some purpose and direction. They exited their tech business for circa 8 million, in their late 40s. They have been attempting to plug the gap that sale created ever since. They are not alone. I have seen founders burn through cash in an attempt to feel better about having nothing to do. Others vowing to buy an island and call it a day only to approach me to source a CTO for their next venture 5 months later. If your finish line is just financial, think again.

Case 2,

I can apply this scenario to literally 100’s of individuals, Covid hit, everyone has decided ‘life is short’ I’m going to start that second hand mouse mat online business I always spoke about, replace mouse mats with your own passion project, side hustle, etc. The reality? “I’m skint and you know what doing something every day, whether you want to or not, actually turns your passion project in to work.”

I'm working more hours for less pay and I'm Miserable, my old hamster wheel of a career isn't looking as bad as I thought"

So now what, you’re an epic failure? Doomed to continue to plough on because of the fallacy of sunken investment? Not if you think of this as an event, you lived it, what did you learn? Turn the page.

So, what is my point? What went before doesn’t have to dictate what comes next? For 99% of us, the finish line you have in your head is just the start line to the next event, or worse still, it’s a finish line that society or other people’s expectations set for you.

I’m a perfect case in point.

For the last 4 years my business has been running me. I had made it to the penthouse, 16 desks, meeting room, steampunk design throughout to include a bar with a blender no less, the goal I set myself when taking my broom cupboard office in the same building 11 years ago, where I had room for me and a coffee mug. I made it, The finish line!

The reality is I have been actively fighting a battle between making decisions to optimise my life and meeting the expectation of others, my life and family lost every time.

In my last newsletter, “Deal with whats in front of you” you will have read about my being fleeced by a Consultancy to the equivalent value of a 3 bed semi in a decent neighbourhood. That negative event resulted in redundancies in my business.

My hand was forced. A negative event, you would think. It certainly felt like it at the end of 2023 when it happened, but it was actually a catalyst to change the business to an offshore model, leveraging strategic partners, freelancers and Technology, which has left me with far less stress and a business model that can be scaled, something that is impossible for traditional recruiters who rely on just headcount growth.

It also sowed the seed how risky it is for founders who are choosing to work with partners for the first time, Despite this recent set back where the end client dictated I work with this consultancy who were unknown to me. I have worked with and continue to work with a host of brilliant suppliers, all of which I would recommend, and between us we have delivered a host of projects.

Is there a business model where I can remove the painful process of discovery, and bids and tenders for clients? 🤔 perhaps my next event?

What I do know is I’m back hands on in the business, loving working with founders and individuals again and I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

For years my business coach had convinced me I wouldn’t be happy without a large team around me here in the UK, I appointed directors in the hope it would enable me to get back to the day job and out of the ivory tower I inadvertently built for myself.

Both directors moved the company further from my vision of a true alternative to traditional agencies.

"I was in danger of building the very company I had chosen to leave! "

All to try to achieve someone else’s finish line and live up to social norms.

If I lived my life with a rigid finish line in mind where outcomes for my life were set from the point, I opened the company 11 years ago, shrinking the team could only be seen as a fail.

As it is, this negative chapter has led to opportunities that have me working in Silicon Valley, New York, Spain, and Portugal alongside our UK activities working for companies I genuinely connect with and individuals I am invested in helping.

My ability to bounce back quickly, to ‘fail fast’ was made easier because I didn’t see this set back as something that would last beyond this particular event.

There is always a chance to turn the page, change the script, and what went before doesn’t necessarily have to take me down a linear path to retirement.

So, the game plan? Well, it would be ironic if you lived your life for anyone other than you 😊 so it’s your race to run, but based on the individuals I speak with each week and my own experience I would offer up: –

  • Choose your event. If you have to fail a few, relax. Most of us get to see 20 Olympics in a lifetime, so you don’t always have to have a medal, come back again, and compete in something different until you find what works for you.
  • Live your life for you, this is a common one. All of us, to some degree, live lives dictated to us by media, our social circle, our loved ones. Be sure you’re living a life that’s yours and your legacy is one you wish to leave.
  • Do not fall for the fallacy of sunken costs. Sticking with something you truly hate because you have already invested time and money into it is madness.
  • Though remember, it always takes longer than you think. Grit is necessary to be an event winner. Just be sure it’s an event you want to win.
  • 99% of the mistakes we make we can bounce back from. Living a life so unchallenged that you make no mistakes is something you can never recover from.


You don’t need to have all the answers, you just need enough to get you through your next event. Have goals and dreams, but don’t kid yourself. The goals and dreams you had at 17 won’t be the same ones you hold in your 30s or those dreams in your 40s will be relevant in your 60s. Missing out on the now for a fictitious finish line in the future is a life of missed opportunity.

For any snooker fans out there, professional snooker players rarely play for a specific red. They play to leave the ball on an area of the table that gives them options. Live your life in the same way and you will never be snookered.

On a practical note, compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world, so be sure to invest early in your pension. You will thank me when you choose that to be your next event.

As always thanks for reading my musings. I hope there is something in here you can take away with you today.

This article was prompted by an interview with where we discussed early retirement, you can read the article here.

Looking to add talent to your team, or looking for the next step in your career?