Ex-ExxonMobil Exec on How to Transition into Retirement

Bill Innes, c0-author of “Your Next Season: Advice for Executives Transitioning from Intense Careers to Fulfilling Next Seasons.”

Bill Innes spent the bulk of his career with Fortune 100 firm ExxonMobil, retiring as president of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. He recently co-authored “Your Next Season: Advice for Executives Transitioning from Intense Careers to Fulfilling Next Seasons,” with Leslie W. Braksick, offering keen insight to life beyond the boardroom. Workforce Editorial Director Rick Bell caught up with Innes via email to discover what winds are blowing through these changing seasons.

Workforce: Just what do you mean by “Your Next Season?”

Bill Innes: As the biblical quotation says, “for everything there is a season.” The idea of your next season is to suggest that the period after retirement is one that naturally has a different place in the span of a lifetime. It is a time when satisfaction and success can be defined differently; and unless it is approached differently, you may miss the joy and fulfillment of a wonderful opportunity. Seasons are inexact in their timing; there are patterns we expect with seasons, but they always include surprises and weather that was unanticipated. Corporate transitions are similar. We prepare; we plant; we fertilize and we water, and yet what we expect may not be realized.

WF: What constitutes a successful next season?

Innes: The attributes of success in your next season are similar to other stages in life — a sense of purpose, self-fulfillment and self worth. What is different is that the field in which it can be found is wonderfully unconstrained — you don’t have to earn a living, you don’t have to lead the parade unless you want to, you can work to your own schedule, you don’t even have to be knowledgeable! What is the same is that you will be most successful if you are thoughtful and deliberate about the decisions about where to spend your time.

WF: Do people struggle with this transition?

Innes: Many people struggle with this transition. In many ways the more successful they are in their primary career, the more difficulty they may have in imagining another focus for their life that will be as fulfilling. It takes time and deep reflection to accept that a very satisfying stage in life has come to a conclusion, to let it go and to believe that another door is opening with possibilities that may be just as fulfilling. Tragically, some never succeed in making the transition. We have, however, found that those who prepare well for the transition, struggle less. This is why we wrote the book.

WF: You talk about “essentials for the journey.” What are they?

Innes: In this particular transition at this time in life, health, openness to a newly defined purpose and companionship are particularly important. Your health defines so much of what you can take on. Openness to a newly defined purpose is essential to breaking the constraints of your work life and role; and companionship makes the leap into something new less daunting.

Rick Bell is editorial director at Workforce. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews


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Author: <div class="author_list_wrapper"><ul class="author_list"><li class="author_link"><a href="/bios/rick-bell">Rick Bell</a></li></ul><div>