Finish line or Start line?

I just turned 52. I’m active, in great health and physical condition, and love getting outside on my mountain bike or my surfski. Our three sons are in their mid to late twenties, well out of the nest, wonderfully married and completely off the payroll. Jennifer and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary next month.

I’ve been blessed to have a wonderful career, and could not be happier with the company I currently work for (Yum Brands, I’ve been there 12 years now), or my role (I’m the Managing Director of KFC Africa). In fact, I tell anybody who will listen that Yum Brands is the best company that I have ever worked for, and that I have the best job within Yum.

And yet a year ago, Jen and I made the decision to stop work early, to pursue a more purposeful Second Half. We finish up in 2 months’ time. It’s exciting, scary, and surreal! So, we will retire from corporate at the end of June, take a sabbatical, and see where that leads.

I want to take better care of Jennifer’s health and to spend more quality time with her, to be a better husband than I have been while working. I look forward to a season of transition from “Human Doing” to “Human Being”. I want to spend more time developing my Christian faith, more family time with children and grandchildren in Australia.

I’ll begin this season by studying a Master of Arts in Christian and Classical Studies, plus some digital topics of interest. I’ll be doing a small amount of consulting work to stay sharp. I’m also going to learn to cook and to keep bees.

But we’re not ready to blend into the banality of suburbia yet. So we’re moving to Malta. Obviously. Wait, what?

Well, as of a few months ago, the plan was to finish up work in Johannesburg and move back to Australia, to be nearer the kids and their growing families. We were nervous about several aspects, including my fears of going “from 100 to zero” overnight; leaving a highly stimulating and rewarding job, and finding ourselves bored and lost. Through many conversations, prayer, and counsel of others, we agreed that it would be wise to transition, to have a season of “unlearning” the “Always On” of my corporate life and of learning to slow down, make space, connect, reflect and relate. Hence the idea of a sabbatical (except we’re not planning to go back afterwards) …

Although we knew almost nothing of Malta, we felt that God planted the idea in us through a friend, so we spent weeks testing whether or not this was God’s will for us. I found this situation to be an excellent “live” case study on discerning God’s will and searched far and wide for input. I found this sermon by Tim Keller, entitled “Your Plans: God’s Plans” particularly helpful.

So, long story short, we’re making plans to live in Europe for a couple of years, based in Malta, with an oft-used campervan in our garage.

This blog will be a place where I share what’s going on for me, a kind of online journal, if you will. I’ll share my thoughts, fears and experiences as I have them, and it’s my intention to keep it real, not some picture-perfect airbrushed version of how I’d like you to see my life. I know it will be useful to me. You’re welcome to enjoy some or all of it, too.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Prov 3:13

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26 thoughts on “Finish line or Start line?

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  1. Doug, it’s been such a pleasure working with you and building a stronger KFC/Coca-Cola partnership. Your energy and positive approach will be missed but the thought of knowing your sabbatical will be used to impact others and yourself in a more meaningful way is comforting. I will follow your “journal” and be thinking of you. Wishing you and Jennifer continued happiness, safety and good health. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Doug

    Very inspirational what you are doing. I wish you both lots of success and fulfilment. Looking forward to following your journey.

    Cheers

    Tom Theoharidis
    Melbourne Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very inspiring Doug!! Thanks sharing and keeping it real. Here’s a Word/Seed of encouragement, keep it your heart and may Lord bring it to your remembrance always:

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Doug, very inspirational and full of positive energy! I consider it a privilege to have worked with you and I wish you and your family best of luck in this new journey! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow Doug, what an incredible decision! Such an encouragement. “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things will be added”. Strength along the way and i look forward to seeing updates!

    Like

  6. Doug, this is brilliant man. Your desire for personal development, love & care for Jen and shepherding others (like myself) blows my mind. Looking forward to hear more of your “new world”.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Doug.

    A link to your blog has been given by a mutual friend, Evelyn T. I really want to encourage you as you seek God’s direction for your next chapter. My wife and I made a similar leap of faith 10 years ago when I was 55.

    Its not about being “Retired” but being “Retyred” – in the sense of new wheels!

    Alan Sears

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Doug and Jennifer.

    All the best on your Second Half, I will be following your blog and adventures with great interest. Looking forward to the updates. It was a pleasure to work with you over the past few years Doug.

    George Allison

    Liked by 1 person

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