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.

A true experience of retirement....

 

I wrote a piece on my blogpost on 4th June 2019 called “An imaginary conversation that could really happen”, which attracted a charming email from a man with whom my post resonated. Here is his response. I have used his own words with some minor edits. The “I” refers to that man of course.

 THE BAD NEWS BEGINS

I too, had a successful corporate career with two large national companies. I also had 7 years running my own business including a pub, newsagency and a general store. All were successful businesses and sold at a profit, before going into the corporate world. I was GM of Sales in Queensland with a career of 22 years as well as Director or National Manager of another large print corporate for almost 10 years. 

The positions I held are not important, but suffice to say I looked after big teams and loved my work at both companies with lots of travel, wonderful comraderie, and priceless memories.

Both companies were in print media and we all know what happened there.

They never saw the internet coming. I did though, and asked for a redundancy at age 52. 

Looking back it was a risky and ill thought out move. I negotiated a very generous payout but I had no idea how much I would miss the discipline of work, the self esteem that comes with work, the sense of achievement, the comradeship. One day I was doing 80 hour weeks and the next zero.

I spiralled into depression  for about 6 months. It was very difficult for my wife and  kids. Without them I would never got through it. I sought help early, was medicated for several months due to low serotonin levels. But it took about a year to emerge from my walk in ‘the valley of darkness’ as I refer to it. 

 A SECOND CHANCE

After a year I decided to have another crack at the corporate world. I had not attended a job interview in 25 years. It was a hell of a thing to do to have the confidence to attend, and everything that goes with senior management corporate positions interviews, including several role plays whilst being videoed, psychometric testing and targeted selection interview techniques. It was robust to say the least but in retrospective what I needed to regain my confidence. I got the role. But almost 10 years later after taking the publication to new highs and my team being named the best led team in the business out of 10,000 employees. I thought we were doing everything right. 

Unfortunately the print media game began to downsize. Costs had to go and three thousand expensive staff were made redundant over several months. After receiving the good news re our teams performance,  two weeks later I was tapped to go.

This time I was much better prepared.

 A PLAN FOR THE LAST THIRD

At age 63 I toyed with the idea of having another crack but after all the commuting, the constant interstate travel, I decided to ‘retire’. I had no plans. It’s a mistake.

The first few months were very hard but my previous experience had taught me that busy(ness) was the key. I had to find away to have a reason to get up in the morning.

Exercise became the key. I rode my bike or kayaked every day. I lost 10 kgs fairly quickly. Amazing what exercise does to  set you up for the day.

At the same time my daughter and son had bought houses that needed a lot of work. I got involved. I am no tradie but for two years the work involved, consumed a lot of time.

I have always been an outdoors type. I joined a bush walking club and loved the  idea of working hard to get somewhere where not too many people have been and absorb what mother nature has to offer and its free. I have done over 200 hikes in 6 years. I am on the committee of the club and  very involved in all sorts of peripheral and club activity. As I write this I am off to a remote part of Australia for three weeks of hiking  with 11 other club members. I could go on. Suffice to say it fills another gap.

I have had a self managed super fund for 20 years. During my working life I left it in the hands of so called ‘financial Advisors’. When I retired I decided to take it on myself. From a very mediocre performance in the hands of the experts I have averaged a little over 10% net p.a. To augment that I joined the Australian Investors Association to increase my education, but more so to network with like-minded people. I am just about to attend my 7th national Conference. Another gap filled.

With all this I am as busy as I want to be.

In addition my son has started his own business and I have worked closely with him by way of mentoring, advice and support. My daughter is a working professional with two babies. My son has just had his first as well.  Another gap filled.

 I thought I might share my journey with you for no other reason than to highlight the importance that retirement planning is crucial, that the last third should become ‘my retirement career’ and plan it like any project when in the ‘paid’ workforce.

No doubt you are aware of all this, but many of your clients could relate to the early part of my story and it may give you some testimonial reinforcement. If nothing else it feels good to share.

I will be 70 next year and constantly looking over the horizon for the next challenge. Good luck with your endeavours. I imagine its very fulfilling.

 

 

Acronyms-how many is enough?

64 PLUS’ 4M process has as its second M “Measuring”. This is the moment of revelation that a person’s retirement diary can look quite empty when compared to a work diary.

For some retired people this is fine, but for others it is a source of anxiety. Why so?

Let’s call it DGS – Diary Guidance Syndrome. It’s quite common for full-time workers to use their diary as the locomotive that pulls their day along. Appointments, meetings, deadlines, travel etc. This can lead to a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of constant diary checking in order to make sure that nothing gets missed.

OCDD, Obsessive Compulsive Diary Disorder. When an OCDD sufferer moves to retirement it may be a massive relief OR may lead to a loss of guidance. 

This can lead to BS or Bunnings Syndrome, where the retired person marks a day as dedicated to one and only one activity (an outing to Bunnings perhaps) and saves other activities to fill out another day. Self-limiting behaviour perhaps.

In summary, the diary can be a useful slave or a cruel master both at work and in retirement, but if it was your master when you worked what will your diary look like when you stop working?

Do you want any of: DGS, OCDD, BS or none of them? 

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

Creation and Achievement Deficit: CAD

The previous post discussed the concept of an identity bridge. You can construct this abstract bridge in order to connect your life of work to your life of post-work. This is a very sound idea, but hard to do on your own.

A retirement coach can assist you to construct a bridge that spans that gap. How does this relate to CAD?

When you worked you almost certainly “made things” whatever that was for you: physical objects, written reports, food and so on. Write your own list. Importantly, there was an emotional core to this, felt at a very deep level: after creating something you felt a sense of achievement. Fantastic.

However, in retirement – no longer having the discipline and routine of work - you may suffer from a deficit of Creation and Achievement: CAD. What to do?

Where did your sense of achievement at work come from? Here is a very short list of possibilities:

·      Helping others

·      Showing your intelligence

·      Demonstrating efficiency

Hence you should construct your personal list and then locate congruent activities and passions to engage with post-work. That will help to turn any CAD from deficit to surplus.

However, as we have written before, do not confuse busyness with achievement and meaning in retirement. They may coincide or, unfortunately, you may find yourself running around doing things yet failing to meet your deepest sense of meaning.

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

Building a bridge from work to post-work

Retirement is a transition in life, and one of the major ones at that. 

Reading some research from Harvard University, I found this useful concept: the identity bridge. 

What is this bridge? It is about finding a form of continuity, hence building a bridge, between your identity pre-retirement and post-retirement. To put it differently, to connect “who was I?” when I worked to “who am I?” post-work.

Some concrete ideas for this “bridge” will help to explain the concept better.

1.  Return to a long-neglected passion e.g. gardening. Or carry over some work-based skills in a volunteering capacity.

2.  Maintain a sense of being valued: as you experienced it at work. Friends and family may provide this.

3.  Hold tightly to certain core beliefs of yours, such as optimism, to help guide you through the tricky transition of retirement.

4.  Open a business, but without the profit motive, based on something you have always wanted to do; say running a single malt whisky bar.

5.  Grandparenting. When you worked you didn’t have time to be an effective grandparent. Now you have that time post-work, you can increase your engagement with grandchildren.

The choice of which bridges to build is yours.

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

An imaginary conversation that could really happen

Richard and Elizabeth were sitting at their kitchen table with their daughter Caroline drinking coffee. Richard, 65 years old, has recently retired after a very successful corporate career, whilst Elizabeth enjoys a very busy life of looking after their house and spending time with friends. Although they would never admit this, Caroline was their favourite child and one who could always speak the truth to her parents, particularly her father.

The conversation soon turned towards Richard and the difficulty he was having in the adjustment to life post work. Caroline knew that her parents were arguing frequently about the matter so, under the pretext of getting some advice on an intended apartment purchase for herself, she wanted to get to the bottom of these discontents. She was a helper who always tried to sort out family disputes if she could. The conversation went as follows.

Caroline: So Dad we’ve been talking for over an hour and you haven’t had much to add.

Elizabeth: Your father has been brooding a lot lately.

Caroline: I remember when I was young how you would come home to dinner each night after work and talk all throughout the meal.

Richard: That was because I had something to talk about. I loved my job. I really miss it.

Elizabeth: That’s in the past dear. Besides, you spend enough time on the internet Richard, you must have something to say, other than boring me with details about price discounts at the local supermarket.

Richard: I am only trying to help.

Elizabeth: That is precisely the job I have been doing for the last four decades and I am rather good at it, sorry but I don’t need help. 

Richard: I only want to be useful to you Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: I can answer that for you. Find a way to occupy yourself each day. Feel free to experiment.

Richard: That’s pretty harsh. I try.

Caroline: Whoa. C’mon let’s not get heated. Dad tell me what are your friends up to these days.

Elizabeth: Leading a life.

Richard: Now, now Liz. Well, Bill – you remember him, the guy with red hair, not that he has much of that any more – he is off travelling the world.

Caroline: That sounds really cool.

Elizabeth: Not for us. Bill doesn’t have grandchildren to care for.

Richard: True. Then there is Terry, he can’t stop working. He retired and then got so bored that he went straight back to work. They will take him out of there in a pine box for sure.

Caroline: You were never really the sporty type as I remember.

Elizabeth: You used to play a lot of golf when you worked. 

Richard: That oiled the wheels of business, I wasn’t really any good.

Caroline: You can’t play every day, that’s what professionals do.

Richard: Too right.

Elizabeth: It might help to keep the weight off.

Richard: I’m trying with my diet.

Caroline: You look great Dad, don’t worry. Hey Dad you were always the life of the party: jokes, stories to tell, you love an audience. 

Richard: I got that from my colleagues at work. Great bunch, but they aren’t in my life any more.

Elizabeth: Then make some friends.

Caroline: Exactly Mum.

Richard: How do I do that. Do you want me to hang around with senior citizens.

Elizabeth: That’s so negative Richard. Everyone has something to add, something to say that is interesting in its own way. 

Caroline: Join a club. Make friends at your local coffee shop. Take up a course. Find something you love doing and meet other people that way. I hear tell of retired people – sorry to use that word Dad it’s so negative – who are so busy that their feet don’t even touch the ground.

Elizabeth: I like the sound of that.

Richard: So you want to get rid of me.

Elizabeth: Not at all. I want the old Richard back. The one who was busy all day and then came home with tales to tell and talk to share. That’s what I want.

Caroline: As I said before, that is how I remember you Dad.

Elizabeth: I think they call that a legacy.

Richard: Don’t worry Caroline there will be plenty of money left for you after we pop off this planet.

Caroline: Oh Dad that is so silly. That is not what Mum meant.

Elizabeth: Thanks Caroline; I meant how other people will remember you, not your money.

Richard: I don’t understand.

Elizabeth: You could do some charity work or mentor some people at your old workplace, I don’t know, go out and talk to people and find out for yourself. You never had a problem finding your own path at work.

Caroline: What Mum is trying to say is that there is a big world out there to explore. I can help you if you like.

Richard: No thanks darling, you have your own life to lead, I can look after myself.

Elizabeth: I’m glad to hear that.

Caroline: That’s it Dad, be your old positive self.

Elizabeth: Oh I forgot to ask you Richard, you haven’t talked about John. Didn’t he get some sort of an advisor to help him with his life after he sold his business? Certainly money was never the issue for him.

Richard; Oh yeah, he saw this retirement coach, I think is what he called himself. I was very skeptical at first but then John kind of transformed himself before my eyes. I could hardly believe it. He changed from this sad sack into a vibrant, interesting guy with so many friends and activities that I hardly get to see him anymore.

Caroline: I am catching up with his daughter Lucinda tonight, I’ll get the name of this coach.

Elizabeth: Please. And phone me tomorrow with his name, telephone number, website and email address. Alright Richard?

Richard: Sounds good to me. But there is one thing.

Caroline: What’s that Dad?

Elizabeth: I know what you want to say Richard and you know what, I don’t think retirement coaches charge a lot of money. You understand investments, think of it as amortizing the cost of your psychological well-being for the next few decades. Then all of a sudden it won’t seem like any money at all. That is certainly how I will view the matter.

Caroline: Mum’s right.

Richard: No she isn’t. That was not my question. It’s not the money, we can certainly afford that, and more. No, my question is this: just because a retirement coach was good for John, why should he be good for me?

Elizabeth: Oh Richard. As you know, life offers no certainties, but how good must it be to sit with someone for a number of sessions where the topic is you and only you; not politics, not overseas travel highlights, not finance, but you and your future.

Caroline: How good would that be. I almost want to be old enough to have a retirement coach myself.

Richard: So are you telling me that this retirement coach will listen to my life story, and then tell me what I need to do with my life.

Elizabeth: Yes and no. From what I understand he will certainly want to know about your work background and life more generally, but then his job consists in helping you to understand yourself better.

Caroline: Which, I think, means that he will assist you to come to your own conclusions about your life as a retired person; and what you want to achieve and how you want to occupy your time.

Richard: Come to think of it, that is what John told me about his experience. Those were pretty much his words.

Elizabeth: I know you trust John and you certainly can’t get a better endorsement than that.

Richard: Imagine someone listening carefully to my story, I like the sound of that. That doesn’t happen too often.

Caroline: Now, now Dad.

Richard: OK I will try it. Thanks Caroline.

Caroline: I am glad to help.

Elizabeth: I am glad to be helped.

THE END.

 Jon Glass Retirement Coach.

Jon runs a retirement coaching practice called 64 PLUS. Details can be found at www.64plus.com.auor by emailing jon@64plus.com.au.

Control

Somewhere in between absolute certainty and chaos we humans seek to exercise control over our lives. That is to say that we want to be at the wheel and steering the vehicle.

It’s trite to say that we can’t know the future. But, when it comes to our future as individuals, in between certainty and simple hope lies the possibility of having some level of control.

In the workplace we would like to think that we have some control over our destiny; few believe that there is certainty and – I imagine - even fewer close their eyes and hope for the best.

A simplified definition of a financial plan is that it sets you up for your financial future. Not with certainty because, for one thing, you won’t know when you will die. But at least it endows you with a feeling of partial control.

So too with the non-financial aspects of your retired life. By planning, talking and thinking you can establish some level of control over your emotional, social and familial life as you move into post-work.

With the help of a retirement coach you should be able to do this with even greater confidence than if you choose to DIY.

If you can’t have certainty in life then why not seek some control.

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

STATUS STATUS STATUS

Do you remember those disco balls that rotated on the ceilings of discotheques, late at night, showing different colours and levels of brightness?

Well YOUR personal status at work is like that. How so? Its colours and brightness can look quite different to each person: you, your friends and family, and even society as a whole.

In other words, your status has as much to do with what you think it is as it has to do with how others might think about you.

Consider some different jobs and professions and their status levels:

·      Celebrities and sports stars. They tend to have very high status in the eyes of the public, and to their own eyes.

·      Doctors and teachers also have high status but (sadly), that seems to be on the wane in the broader society.

·      Politicians? That is another story.

So what happens to YOUR status when you retire from work? In simple terms, you leave and it stays behind. Either you will:

·      Not notice its absence. It may be good or bad that you didn’t;

·      Miss it terribly;

·      Be happy that it has gone.

 If your answer is the middle case then two questions arise:

1.   How do you intend to replace that lost status that you once had?

2.   How differently will other people think about you now if you don’t?

Perhaps a retirement coach can help you to think through the issues?

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

The matrix of life

Let’s discuss these three ages of man (Shakespeare, being much smarter, got to seven), by thinking of three decades across three different features of a life:

·       How much time do you have at your disposal

·       How much money do you have

·       How much energy do you have 

We derive (with N for no and Y for yes) in a rough and (possibly) uncontroversial way the following matrix:

 

Decades           Time          Money            Energy

20s                      Y                   N                      Y

40s                      N                   Y                       Y

60s                      Y                    Y                       N

 

How can this matrix apply to retirement? Perhaps a successful retirement for you may depend on the extent to which you can turn the RED N into a RED Y?

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

The retirement game: a brand new Aussie board game for two

Suitable for couples where the successful husband retires and is suddenly not himself.

The Retirement Game has its own set of rules:

Rule 1: The players are a husband and wife in their 60s. He has built a career over 40 years and she has been maintaining the family home. (I know it’s stereotyped, but it is only a game!)

Rule 2: The husband has recently retired and wants to join his wife in all her pursuits: shopping, golf, bridge, movies etc.

Rule 3: She already does these things, but without him and with her friends.

Rule 4: Each puts their counter at start. In turn, each rolls one die.

Rule 5: If the husband lands on “Get a life” he goes back two spaces. If the wife lands on “I have a life” she advances 2 spaces.

Rule 6: The first to reach start is the winner. 

Rule 7: If playing this game reveals issues that you can’t resolve then perhaps the husband would benefit from seeing a retirement coach. Here are the details:

Email: jon@64plus.com.au

Tel:     0409116766

Web:   www.64plus.com.au