“I’ve never in my entire career been as appreciated as I am today”
Dietmar Graffius had worked for the same company for almost 40 years when he was “informed” about his own retirement three years early. “I simply disappeared from the payroll.” It was a shock because Dietmar didn’t want to retire until he was 65.
Mobility, flexibility, and curiosity
Dietmar Graffius, now 62, has been involved in many changes both in management at his former company and in his own career.
He began his career as a pharmaceutical sales representative and progressed into management. “My motto for a good job is based on three things: Mobility, flexibility, and curiosity. You have to be able and willing to adapt if you want to grow. That also means taking on different roles: I’ve done everything from sales to product management to marketing.
Flexibility is key even after retirement
It wasn’t the actual leaving of the company itself that disturbed Dietmar. “There were signs. The company stock price hadn’t been good for quite some time. But still, I never thought about retiring. It was the way my retirement was communicated that affected me.”
The native Styrian was confronted with retirement much earlier than he had planned. Like many newly retired people, Dietmar took a break, travelled, and took care of his garden.
The phenomenon of long days
Inevitably, the “phenomenon of the long day” as Dietmar puts it, appeared. At first you enjoy the break, the extra sleep, and the gardening until you notice that you miss the work.
It was ultimately his values of work (mobility, flexibility & curiosity) that helped Dietmar in the next phase of his unexpectedly early retirement. He sat down and made a list of all the professional skills and experiences that he has accumulated in his professional career and could still use to work during retirement. “You shouldn’t just look at the last 30 years, you should also go back into your youth,” Dietmar advises. You should also consider in advance how much time you would like to spend per week.
6 months after his forced retirement, Dietmar decided to go into business for himself with his own consulting firm and is currently working with three companies on a long-term basis.
Since May 2019, Dietmar has also been offering his expertise to the WisR job platform. “The 60-75 generation is currently not present on the job market. It is a reserve of personnel that is not sufficiently used.”
What Dietmar particularly enjoys about his “new” work now is the esteem and recognition he receives, something he had not felt for years at his old job. “I have a lot of experience and can share it. Honesty is accepted and appreciated. I have the feeling of being needed and this feeling is by no means one-sided - I also learn and grow with the companies I work with. It’s a complete package.”
When asked if he had ever imagined his life turning out this way, he laughs: “No, I never thought so! It turned out even better than I had ever dreamed”.
Dietmar's 5 Tips for Self-Employment as a Senior Talent
1. Listen to yourself
“Sit down and tidy up. Take your time and listen to yourself.”
2. Take care of yourself
“Be active. This helps a lot.”
3. Think about what you can do
“But, don’t just think about what you can do. Think about what you really want to do. Don’t just think about the last 30 years, but back to your youth.”
4. Manage your time
“Consider and clarify in advance how many hours per week (or month) you would like to spend on your work.”
5. Don’t worry
“Forget the fears that can hold you back. Fear of investing in a website or advertising are unnecessary”.
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