How buying into the wrong story can harm your business, career, and life

Cathy Goodwin
2 min readMay 29

Retirement stories are just one example of stories that can lead to adverse business and career outcomes.

Image by Edu Lauton on Unsplash.

We all hear stories that “everybody knows” are true. But often they turn out to be false…and that leads to bad outcomes.

For example, many (most?) people walk around with either or both of these retirement stories.

Story #1: Retirement means freedom.

You work for 10, 20, 30, or even 50 years. You experience many frustrations and make many sacrifices. Then you get to retire and do what you want.

Story #2: Labeling your story as “retirement” or “adventure” depends on age.

A couple sells all their possessions to travel around the world. They realize they can earn a good living remotely from anywhere, so they never go home.

Story #2A: They’re in their 40s: it’s a story about choosing adventure and choosing a business to give you freedom.

Story #2A: They’re over 60. They retired.

These stories are related. They assume retirement comes with age…and only with age.

What’s the harm in these stories?

You don’t see opportunities to create your ideal life, at any age.

Once you lose those stories you open the door to a business and life that’s meaningful.

I’ve met people who chose a business that would give them a chance to enjoy several months off each year.

I met a 45-year-old executive who was laid off. He realized he didn’t need a large income for various lifestyle reasons. He gave up on corporate life and became a full-time artist.

Former WSJ Managing Editor Matt Murray wrote a book, The Father and the Son, about his father, who became a Benedictine monk in his sixties. He maintained a full, active schedule that involved teaching high school, counseling, gardening, and other work.

Former schoolteacher Olga Kotelko started training for track and field competition at age 77; she went on to win hundreds of medals, still active when she died in her early 90s.

Cathy Goodwin

Create a compelling marketing message that attracts your ideal clients through your unique selling story.