Reviews of my book; Finding Joy in Retirement: fourth one.

As Oscar Wilde remarked, youth is wasted on the young and those many among us who were students of The Happy Prince, did our darndest not to waste those halcyon days.
We laughed in the face of age and risked all for wisdom and experience. Perhaps following the exhortation of The Who, we had a shot at dying before we got old and mocked the sober senior souls around us. Now our inner puck chuckles from his cowslip as we hesitate before crossing the river Styx.
Glass and Kennedy provide a guide to navigating that crossing.
The book is structured around advice, guidance and exercises in reflection. It poses the question, ’Would you not plan for retirement as you would for any other phase in life?’
Work, as we all know, provides meaning, routine, identity and satisfaction. Where will these things derive from in retirement?
A coach or guide can assist in finding meaning and, through reflective listening, can elicit your concerns; what the authors call the four Ms, missing, measuring, meaning and mastery.
They go on to discuss aspects of life you will miss; understanding that life beyond work is not a wilderness, finding motivation, structuring one’s life and defining one’s role in the world.
The authors encourage the reader to commit to retirement and embrace the assistance of a coach to get the best out of it, to reflect with others on its challenges. This involves managing time, energy and space, establishing new forms of validation and carpe diem seizing the time.
All of us, like Frank Sinatra, have had a few regrets, but retirement is a time to move beyond regret, to do what you didn’t have time to do before, to value your friends and cherish your values. It is a time to discover your true personality, your rhythm, your relationship to wealth and the possibilities of self-creation.
The authors conclude by exhorting the reader to take risks, to master their goals, to divide life into its components, adjust their dependency relations and begin to learn anew. Most importantly they suggest this process of self-assessment should be done vis-a-vis the goals of your partner in life.
As Joni Mitchell said, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.
But it hasn’t gone yet, not by a long shot. And if you want to know the secret to making the next stage of life as good or better than the last, this is the book for you.

Reviews of my book; Finding Joy in Retirement: second one.

Sometimes retirement is thrust upon you. Other times you have plenty of time to prepare but do you? The premise of Finding Joy in Retirement is that you can’t step idly into retirement. You need a plan, not just a financial plan but a life plan. After the sleeping in, going for coffee, going to the gym what are you going to do? If you don’t have a plan you risk driving your partner crazy and then there won’t be any joy in retirement. Based on his retirement coaching practice and interviews with a wide range of workers Jon Glass and David Kennedy have devised four steps to help you plan for and ease into retirement. You will have to read the book to find out these four steps to discover meaning in life after work. A great gift for friends or colleagues contemplating this next phase in life.

Reviews of my book; Finding Joy in Retirement: first one.

I am by inclination a stoic. I understand that we have a beginning and an end and that it is what we make of the finite time between those points that matters.
With that premise firmly in mind it was with real expectation that I read Finding Joy in Retirement knowing that its intent was to guide the reader through a pivotal change in one’s life and to assist in creating a positive methodology for navigating the next stage/s.
I was not disappointed. Yes, I understood the need for financial security and yes, I anticipated that emotional satisfaction needed to run side by side with it in one’s later years. What I didn’t have clearly in my mind were the loss factors marking the transition from a working life and the practical steps necessary to help negate the impact of these losses. In other words I lacked clarity in my perception and methods of coping.
Clarity is the gift this book offers.
Retirements can be viewed with stunning superficiality. Retirements can be multi-faceted requiring review and restatement of objectives. They are not to be mistaken as simply an opportunity to have a good time. Jon and David hold the mirror up to a different reality that lies in wait for those of us on the cusp and who hope to sail into it with no compass for the voyage.
There is much that can be said about the authors offering, better to obtain the book and learn for yourself. It may be a life changer.

The price you pay

Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote - in 1834 – that almost every physical job has a tendency to cause some sort of injury in the practitioner, for example:

“Grinders of cutlery die of consumption; weavers are stunted in their growth; smiths become blear-eyed.”

Whatever job you have, there may be a price you pay for it. Here are two contemporary examples.

We all know of workaholics who sacrifice the benefits of private life in pursuit of wealth or fame; or sportspeople who develop physical injury that can last a lifetime.

What can be said about the price we may pay in retirement? It depends. For those who are happy in retirement, just as for those who are content at work, we can say that the price is negligible.

But what about those people who haven’t found their meaning or purpose in retirement: could they be an unhappy burden on themselves and those close to them?

Is that a price that, as a retired person, you would want to pay?

Retirement: You won’t know what it is like until you get there.

Belonging in retirement

Belonging to social groups can be an important factor in retirement. 

I read some recent research that tracked the health and well-being of a sample of people in the 6-year period following their retirement.It turns out that belonging to social groups is a good thing.

Specifically, mortality rates fell significantly if people maintained contact with the social groups that they belonged to before retirement.

Intuitively, membership of a social group can make you feel good about yourself. It can also allow you to influence other people in a positive way which can also feed back into your personal well-being. Think of the social groups you belong to and the ways in which you benefit.

It also seems useful to belong to groups that share a common thread rather than groups that are incompatible. Intuitively, this commonality may further help you to build closer friendships, and connect people together.

Retirement: You won’t know what it is like until you get there.



Roles and the self

How many roles do you have/have you had/will you have in your life: daughter, father, neighbour, friend? Count them. It is an interesting exercise in itself. Can we add worker to the list?

Whilst you are working, whether self-employed or employed, there is another role. For example, you are a teacher, a train driver, a salesman: all well-defined; others roles may involve work that is not so clear to our society.

How is your sense of self, your identity and meaning, bound up with your roles? Very obviously. To cite 3 examples; I think of the mutual obligations of parent to child, worker to employer, or the ethics of practising as a doctor. Now let’s set this in the context of postwork.

Here the roles you assume may be voluntary (flute-player) or imposed upon you (grandparent); and the big question is the following.

How do these roles fit your self, your identity, your meaning in life. The point is that you are now free to choose how YOU engage with each role; i.e. your level of commitment and energy. Think about it, as you now have that luxury. Enjoy your roles to the extent that you want.

Retirement: You won’t know what it is like until you get there.

The what and why of retirement

Think of a typical conversation with a group of friends in which you hit on a topic of common interest: politics, superannuation etc. Then there will be a great deal of “what” – swapping of opinions – but few “why” -this matters to me because…..

One reason for this is that the “what” is usually factual whereas the “why” is often emotional; therefore best avoided. What has this to do with retirement coaching?

Well, when you work there is a great deal of “what”: job title, tasks you engage in, the huge amount of time you spend at work and so on. However the “why” can get left unsaid.

Examples of this are: your identity that you forged at work, the meaning to you of routine at work; the validation that work bestowed on you, to name a few. Now emotions can enter with the help of a retirement coach.

This is because you should try to replace the meaning, validation and identity with a new version of yourself postwork. This is not easy to do, but a good coach can help you to develop that self-awareness. 

Retirement: You won’t know what it is like until you get there.

More or less

There are some basic needs that all humans have such as: food, water, a reasonable ambient temperature, and many more. This we know. Another thing we know is that for each of these human needs there is something like an optimal value.

Why? Because at the two extremes are life-threatening conditions of either deprivation or toxicity. This has nothing to do with following some sort of morally correct middle way. It’s built into our physical bodies. But let’s move from body to mind, and ask about more and less in the mental context.

Money of course is really interesting in this regard as some people place no limits on how much they wish to accumulate. What has this got to do with retirement? Well consider some other mental activities such as:

·      Binge-watching shows on Netflix;

·      Accumulating likes on Facebook;

·      Daily counting of emails received.

Now we get to a tricky area of evaluation: what is too little or too much?

This is an area over which you have control in retired life: where YOU want to set the balance of YOUR activities like those listed above.

There is no correct answer, there is only an answer that works for you.

Retirement: You won’t know what it is like until you get there.