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Real Retirement: This woman cashed out a $1 million dog-walking business. Here’s what she’s doing now — in paradise

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Kristin Morrison is my new retirement hero.

The former business owner, age 52, quit the rat race in her mid-40s, and moved to a second, semiretirement career that gives her more freedom, less work and less stress.

And when I checked in on her recently she told me she’s spent most of the crisis at a new base of operations on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Read: Where’s the perfect place for you to retire? Pick what matters most — you may be surprised

This is how we should all be living and working in our 50s. No office politics. No team meetings. No worries about layoffs. She spends an hour on ‘Zoom,’
ZM,
+1.29%

somebody has to pay her.

Apparently the internet is just fine in paradise.

“We’re at the edge of the Earth here,” she tells me. “It’s so lush and green and peaceful. I felt I really needed this after being in the Bay Area.”
She adds, “I don’t get bored at all. I think my husband does, a little. I think he really misses his boat.”

Morrison’s new semiretirement gigs: Advising small-business owners who are trying to run businesses like the one she had, and writing books on the same subject.

Morrison ran a dog walking and pet sitting business in the San Francisco Bay Area. Such businesses, incidentally, are about to boom nationwide she predicts. When all these workers are ordered back to the office, they’re going to need to hire someone to look after their pandemic puppies.

Their loss, some else’s gain.

She ran her business for 18 years before cashing out. She loved it, but she admits running a business is exhausting.

Now she’s having fun with far less stress, advising, or ‘coaching,’ others.

Read: Check out MarketWatch’s retirement calculator

“Having owned my company for 18 years, I’ve seen almost everything that can happen,” she says. She’s had about 1,000 consulting clients over the years. She’s written and published six books and she is finishing a seventh.

This is the kind of path more of us are going to have to negotiate. The old ‘retirement,’ with the gold watch and maybe 10 years on the golf course, is ancient history. Today we’re told we will have to work till 70, if not longer. But workers are apt to get laid off in their 40s or 50s in favor of younger, cheaper, more pliable drones.

The net result: Stress and uncertainty for maybe 20, or even 30, years.

And, really, who actually wants to put up with all that corporate stuff and office politics once you reach the age of maturity? Haven’t we earned a little more dignity than that?

Cue the ‘new retirement:’ A new gig that pays the bills until you make your 70s, but which leaves you free and in control.

How Morrison got to her happy current position tells a tale. First, in her early 20s, she turned her passion into a job: She loved dogs, and found a way to get paid to play with other people’s. Then she turned her job into her own business. (Don’t work for The Man, be The Man.)

And then, in mid life, she escaped the stress by downshifting.

Her new second career developed out of her first. Which, come to think of it, is probably how all of us should be planning things.

She got into consulting, she says, when a woman in New York contacted her to ask for help. Morrison at this stage had been running for business for about five years and was around 30. The woman in question was trying to run her own dog walking and pet sitting business and was struggling.

So Morrison helped. And that led to referrals. Lots of them. At one point, she says, nearly all her coaching or consulting clients were on the East Coast, even while Morrison was in California.

The writing came out of the coaching. Clients, Morrison says, suggested she put down on paper the advice she was giving them. And Morrison had both these new gigs running before cashing out of her first career. (Amazingly, she says she wrote about 70% of her first book in two three-day weekends.)

She’d been consulting for 14 years, and publishing books for four, before she sold her business.

It also helps that Morrison does something she loves. “I wake up in the morning and I’m so excited to start my day,” she says. “I so love my work. And I wish that for everyone. If more people loved their work they’d love their life, too.”

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