McCadden: How’s That Soup Gonna Taste?

authors Shawn McCadden | April 14, 2021

I was fortunate enough to retire at 60 years old. It was fortune, and not luck, because I planned ahead and worked my plan to make it happen.

I didn’t foolishly hope to get lucky enough to retire someday. If you have been reading my articles at Qualified Remodeler, you know I’ve been preaching the importance of having a financial plan for your business—a plan that will support your goals for retirement.

There’s an additional aspect to the preparation required to attain retirement: Are you physically and mentally ready for retirement? I want you to see the importance of getting started right away, like this weekend, to prepare yourself. This is important because you may become very disappointed in your retirement if you wait until it has already started to determine what you will do with yourself and your free time.

I decided to share my thoughts on this after several people in the industry asked how I could retire at such a young age. In discussion I came to realize their concern wasn’t based on whether I had enough money to do so, but whether I was bored having nothing to do.

At first this was very puzzling. Trust me, I have plenty to do, and I’m having tons of fun doing stuff I love and prefer to do. The conversations led me to realize that many people are so wrapped up in their jobs that they’ve given up many of the great things in life we have to look forward to when we are not working.

And maybe, like the frog soup analogy, it happened to them so gradually that they never realized what was happening until it was too late.

What Kind of Soup Are You Cooking Up?

In the frog-soup analogy, a frog is placed in a pot of cold water sitting on top of the cooktop. He swims around fat, dumb and happy, even after the heating element of the cooktop is initially turned on.

As the water slowly warms, the frog doesn’t even notice what’s happening—partly because it happens so slowly, but also because the frog is not really thinking about or watching what is happening. As a result of these conditions, the water eventually comes to a boil, and the frog unknowingly becomes part of the soup.

Like the frog, have you ended up where you are today without realizing what happened? On the other hand, if your water is still warming up, will you just sit there and let it come to a boil? Or will you recognize the soup you’re currently in and define the recipe you need to use to finish cooking up your soup?

Things to Consider Adding to the Recipe

Remember, if you don’t keep these few examples top-of-mind, you may end up like the frog in the analogy.

Did you become so busy at your business that when friends used to call you to see if you wanted to join them at the car show, concert or just hang out together, you had to pass on the invite because you needed to go out on a sales call, work on an estimate or make a materials list the crew already needed yesterday? Did you say no so often that now they don’t even bother to call you to invite you anymore?

If you keep going this way, in your retirement you’ll need to find new friends or hope you can redevelop relationships with old friends. Keep in mind, those old friends will change and evolve over time due to life experiences. Building and having strong relationships with real friends takes time and lots of personal interaction.

You have to be a present and conscience member of the gang to remain a member. If your old friends evolve together but you don’t, will they still be interested in being the friends you’ll need and want when you retire? Will they have already moved past you?

What about interests and hobbies? Other than going out to eat, what interests and hobbies do you still have and passionately pursue? Has the frog soup absorbed those as well?

To avoid being bored in retirement, and instead being motivated and excited to start each new day, you’ll need interests and hobbies to not only fill your time, but to also serve as motivators and ways to feel accomplished and productive after you stop working at your business.

An important point here is that we develop interests and become really good at our hobbies and interests by living and practicing them over an extended period of time. It takes time to try new things. We need that time to help us all properly assess and decide which hobbies and interests capture our enthusiasm and, therefore, are worth investing our time and energy in. Make time to do all that while you still own and run your business.

These are just a few examples of things to consider. Others might include the relationships you maintain with your significant other, your children and even your grandchildren. A simple but revealing question to ask yourself might be: Do my spouse and children think I give them enough attention and spend enough time with them?

Kids grow up fast. What kind of relationship will you want to already have with these important people, and what will they already be thinking about you when you retire?

You are the chef, and it’s your soup. What will you be doing this weekend? Will you proactively decide the recipe you are going to use, or like the frog will you just let yourself become cooked? QR

Shawn McCadden is a speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler with more than 35 years of experience. He can be reached at

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