Election loss left ex-mayor struggling with depression
FOR more than a decade, Joe Natoli gave his heart and soul to politics.
It was his passion, his pursuit and his unwavering ambition.
From businessman to local councillor and then Maroochy Shire Council Mayor, he climbed the political rungs to leadership.
But in 2008 he was suddenly left rudderless after a crushing loss to Noosa's Bob Abbot in the amalgamated council election.
Mr Natoli, 56, admits the sudden loss of identity left an enormous void in his life.
He believes the dark days that followed happened partly because he fell into a trap of not having a plan for life after politics.
He thinks many people have a similar experience when entering the end phase of their career or contemplating retirement.
"Losing an election the way I did … there's a reluctance to want to go out in public," he said.
"There's a reluctance to participate."
With too much time on his hands, Mr Natoli found himself dissatisfied with life.
"When you're in that state of mind, motivation is a really difficult thing to try and deal with," he said.
"You can let yourself go … and give into bad habits, (but) I wasn't prepared to allow that to dominate my life to the point where it continued to degenerate.
"It got to a point where I just said enough's enough."
Mr Natoli's watershed moment led to some difficult life decisions that eventually led to the recovery of his mental state.
Since then he has lost 17kg and volunteers his time for youth projects.
On the career front, he is the director and general manager of Future Waves
Energy and says he is looking to get back into retail ownership.
"It was about taking control and it was a point in my life where I had to make that choice," he said.
"I got myself back into a really healthy environment. I was running regularly, almost on a daily basis.
"I wanted to set goals, run a marathon … I ended up running a half-marathon before I got injured."
Mr Natoli believes that in Australia we have a cultural tendency to undervalue our elderly.
"We have this thing that you turn 50 or 60 and people think they come to what they call retirement," he said.
"I actually hate the word retirement - it's a negative term.
"It has too strong a connotation in terms of stopping everything. I think moving from full time employment to non-employment doesn't mean that you actually retire from life."