Reinvention: Finding a New Purpose

By Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Business in Hospitality (



What happens to CEOs and business founders when they decide to leave their post? In most cases people will choose to leave or move on for all of the right reasons, i.e. to spend more time with family, take retirement or to take a new direction. But there are cases where the reality of leaving a post that you have worked for all of your life, is not quite the picture postcard it first seemed.


Only recently, we hosted a thought-provoking and very moving business event where a senior CEO spoke about how his life had changed following retirement.  He had made the choice to resign from his position but revealed that nothing had prepared him for the mental challenges that he was about to face in terms of establishing his new role within the home and the family unit.


Interestingly, this kind of scenario is probably one of the most overlooked issues people face today.  Many give up full-time, high profile careers in search of a more relaxed way of life, but how does the main breadwinner, for example, find their role at home when they are no longer heading off to the office on a daily basis?  How might this impact on their relationships at home with their partner and children?


A different reality

Many of us have grand ideas about how we might spend our retirement, but in many cases people have found the reality quite different.  Moving away from the working world is a huge change both in terms of lifestyle and expectations.  We heard from one CEO who claimed he discovered he wasn’t wanted on a full-time basis at home, so he returned to work in a new role six months later.


The issues associated with this are of course, much deeper.  In a world where rising numbers are suffering with mental illnesses, we know that anxiety, isolation and depression can be just a stone throw away. The mental challenge of finding new purpose is something many people will face later in life.


People are inherently tribal; we need to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves.  We all need purpose in life and to feel that we are living our best life.  The alternative can be a dark and very lonely place.  For many of us that have become accustomed to the ways of working life, the struggles and challenges of building something or fighting for a goal in life is something we need as human beings. Money might be our reward but our purpose in life is not financially driven.


We need challenge and purpose to prosper

It was also interesting to hear from a successful entrepreneur on how they had struggled mentally after selling their business.  The struggle itself was not a financial one but finding their role and purpose in life again, was a huge obstacle to overcome.  For many, it simply comes down to having a valid answer to the question “So what do you do?”


As another general election looms we are also hearing murmurings around the desire for a four-day working week – again linked to pressures, life balance and wellbeing. Many believe in the next 15 years that as a society, we may even work just three days per week.  One thing is for sure, we all need challenge and purpose in life to prosper and thrive individually.  Without purpose there is greater risk of mental illness, anxiety, low self-esteem and depression.


It’s common knowledge that most employees today want the flexibility of home working options. It is becoming the trend of the current generation and this is totally understandable but research will also show that this has had its own issues in terms of isolation and inclusion.In business, those in senior roles, also face a raft of mental challenges and these can be much greater as they have an enhanced need and sense of their own purpose, which can be easily lost as they look to make changes in their working lives.


Reinvention will affect us all

Reinvention is a process that is designed to help people to find new purpose in life and to reinvent themselves again in their careers.  Whether that means people looking to retire later in life or indeed young people in industries such as professional sport, where a career can be over by the time you are 21.  For all of these reasons and more, we have a duty as a society to take inclusion to the next level.


Research tells us that we will all need to reinvent ourselves around three times during our lives and this is likely to rise in the future.  The question is, how can we support people to learn and adapt continuously?  Many will simply not possess the skills they need to break out into new directions and this needs real help and consideration.


As in the workplace today, supporting people mentally is becoming just as important as training people physically for a role.  It is certainly a challenge that will impact productivity, society and our future lives.




About EP Business in Hospitality   

EP is an exclusive, leading communicator in business opinion and debate with a focus on progressive thinking.  Leading the way on topical and hard hitting business issues, the high level consultancy brings people together across multiple industries to address key statements, break down barriers, promote shared knowledge and boost connectivity via a number of thought-leading, inclusive campaigns that represent major issues of the day.

Bringing likeminded communities together, EP provides a central resource for the discussion and debate of key issues affecting businesses today. With an intention to facilitate and advise, EP also creates and hosts live face-to-face industry leading events, bridging the communication gap between organisations and their prospective audiences.

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