The Times of London: Too Full of Ideas to Wind Down?

From The Times
February 5, 2008

Too full of ideas to wind down?

How is your work-life balance? This week, the US life coach Ginger Cockerham
advises a self-made man and early retiree.

Four years ago Ian Bowater, 44, sold his software business, making enough money to ensure that he
would be financially secure for life. Initially, he kept working for the business, but found that “after 15
years of self-employment, I couldn’t become an employee again”. In September 2004, he and Debbie, his
wife of 20 years, embarked on “retirement” together.

Ian thinks that the easiest option would have been to seek the “thrill” of developing a new business.
Instead, he resolved to broaden his lifestyle. “For three months my empty diary was a relief, then it
became a void,” he says. He and Debbie have no children. They split their time between homes in
Warwickshire and North Wales, and spend up to three months of the year travelling.

Ian has become nonexecutive chairman of another software company, and he and Debbie share
business and property investments, but most of his time is spent on photography, gardening, walking and
being with his wife: “We’ve known each other since we were 16, but there is still so much you can learn
about each other when there’s time to listen.”

Ian has found that other important relationships have also improved. “I am having a great time, but there’s
a nagging voice in my head. I have lots of business ideas but no way to channel them.”

Ian’s typical day:
8am Get up, shower, breakfast.
9am Check e-mails and phone my brother, Colin, who works with me on our property investments.
10.30 A couple of mornings a week, I’ll meet my personal trainer at the gym. Another couple of mornings,
Debbie and I will do a ten-mile walk. On the other days I enjoy Su Doku or the crossword with a strong
cup of coffee.
1pm Lunch. Then I’ll go out and take photographs or do some gardening.
4-5pm Check e-mails. Debbie and I may work on our travel plans, or I’ll edit photographs on computer.
7-8pm Cook and eat. We also eat out twice a week.
9pm Watch TV or a DVD.
Midnight Bed.

Ian is an entrepreneur who has achieved remarkable business success. I asked him: In five years, what
do you want to look back and see in your life? He responded: “I don’t want to have any regrets.”
For Ian, the plethora of ideas for business opportunities that he continually has is also his Achilles’ heel.
He wants to act on them, but says that he would regret not continuing to grow the relationships that he
neglected for years with his wife, brother and friends.

We discussed how he could create a model that would allow him to have life balance if he chose to start a
new business.

He has thought about finding an apprentice who would research and flesh out some of his ideas. We also
talked about how he might develop a peer group of creative business thinkers. He finds it fascinating and
stimulating to be in the company of others like himself.

His commitment was to move forward in establishing a peer group while continuing to collect his
entrepreneurial ideas – and getting help in developing the very best.

Summary: By creating awareness, we may discover that our Achilles’ heel is our greatest asset. And, as
we acquire wisdom, we can implement what we are good at without compromising our life balance.

© Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.

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