Category Archives: Thoughts on Retirement

Daring to seek new opportunities

Entrepreneur and fitness expert, Betty Perkins-Carpenter, 85, has met life’s challenges with dedication, tenacity and persistence, which are hallmarks of conscious leaders. Here, she shares three tips to help others dare to seek new opportunities.

#1 Make a new beginning
At 72, I decided to go back to school and get my Ph.D. to continue my life’s work researching balance as part of my Senior Fitness business. In addition to research, my experience working with babies, preschoolers, elite Olympic athletes and seniors, on land and in water, led me to develop the Six-Step Balance SystemTM.

#2 Take chances and have fun
I started teaching swimming lessons in my backyard pool, which was risky. My business grew from taking chances and having fun. After 55 years in business, I still love getting up in the morning and helping people lead happier, healthier and active lives.

#3 Nothing is impossible
My veterans post commander gave me nearly 300 photos of soldiers taken at the beginning of the Korean War. I wanted to find these veterans and give photos to them or their families. In sharing my story, I found people willing to help. Because of their dedication and hard work, we created the Snapshots from the Korean War Project. Photos can be viewed at koreanwar.democratandchronicle.com.

Posted on behalf of Betty Perkins-Carpenter
by
Paul G. Ward
President, 2Young2Retire, LLC

No Fear Retirement

Although I believe that we are all still Too Young to Retire® I also know that there are many fears about the transitions from full time careers into new and uncertain phases of our lives. One of our 2Young2Retire® certified facilitators, Pamela Houghton, has published a new book, No Fear Retirement, written for anyone who is thinking about, or has already embarked upon, retirement.

No Fear Retirement addresses ten of the most common concerns of those who are thinking about retirement. Whether your fears are around finances, your relationships, where you will live, your identity, or something else, this book is a valuable resource. Taking time to reflect on the Pause for Thought questions along the twelve phases of retirement or associated with the ten most common fears, will make this read well worthwhile and may help you enjoy a more fun-filled and fulfilling life if or when you retire. For more information visit Pamela Houghton’s website: http://www.retirementsunlimited.co.uk/

Paul G. Ward
President

Retiring to something not from something

Our identity matters and, at 2Young2Retire®, we strongly advocate a forward looking approach to identity. Kim Potgieter, author of Retiremeant: Get More Meaning from your Money, in a recent interview by Dorian Mintzer, reminded us of the importance of retiring to something not from something. “I am a retired teacher” or “I am a retired salesperson” may reflect our past identity, what we have retired from. But what is your identity now? What are you becoming?

Thinking about being a former something, a former executive, a former teacher, represents the space between who we were and who we are yet to become. Consider the question, “Who do I want to be after this transition from a career just ending?” Here is an exercise that may help with looking forward: Take a sheet of paper and draw line down the center to create two columns. At the top of the left hand column, write ‘How I see myself now’ and at the top of the right hand column, write ‘How I would like to be.’ List your perceptions of yourself now in terms of areas such as ability, competence, relationships, income, roles, etc. Then write down who you would like be in the future. Consider who you are becoming; be purposeful; retire to something not from something.

Paul G. Ward
Principal

Retirement Transitions Requiring Exploration

I have to downsize my library. Two years ago, while moving from a house to an apartment, I reduced shelf space by fifty percent and now a new move is demanding another one third reduction. Many of these books are easily replaceable and I know about the value of letting go to create space for the new but I really struggle to let go of books in my collection. Many have special meaning because of relationship with the author or a period of my life which allowed a deep dive into an interesting topic. The books tell the story of my journey.

A friend of mine who is also experiencing significant downsizing is taking photographs before disposal not so much of books but of a wide variety of valued possessions. I love the idea although letting go of the physical may not create the space for the emotional or spiritual to come forth. Maybe it is more of exploration. Henry David Thoreau said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” As we experience transitions before, during, and after retirement, and prepare to downsize and let go of our physical bookshelves, we can also examine our mental and emotional book shelves, and maybe let go of some things we have held onto for too long. I invite you to join me this week in examining what is really important in our lives and what we can let go.

Paul G. Ward
Principal

A Mindful Transition Pause

Wherever you are on your journey of transitions, I hope you will find time during this Thanksgiving week here in the US to take a mindful transition pause. Many of us are experiencing or anticipating transitions in our careers and in our lives. These transitions are rarely easy and we can easily fall into a period of depression where we feel disconnected from our past, dissatisfied with the present, and uncertain about our future.

To avoid the mindless transition pause where we feel lost between two worlds, letting go of our past identity without knowing our true identity, or unable to replace the job we recently lost, it is time to become more focused, more intentional, and more purposeful about the future. A mindful transition pause is a time of reflection, letting go of the past to allow space for the future to emerge, a place for you to simply be, in preparation for what is to come. An excellent place to start this mindful transition pause is in the place of gratitude. Expressing gratitude for the past and for the present creates the space for a more conscious, purposeful, and fulfilling future.

My thanks to Madisyn Taylor for introducing me to the mindful transition pause in her inspirational daily OM (http://bit.ly/I2bwpN). Continuing in the spirit of gratefulness, thank you for reading this blog and thank you for your emails and calls. These connections help us at 2Young2Retire to help you, wherever you are on your journey.

I will end this post with a Quero Apache Prayer: “Looking behind I am filled with gratitude. Looking forward I am filled with vision. Looking upwards I am filled with strength. Looking within I discover peace.” I wish you a mindful, purposeful, and happy Thanksgiving!

The Striking French

Driving to the first of two yoga teaching gigs yesterday, I listened to a report on NPR that Paris was all but shut down by unions striking against the proposed rise of retirement age from — get this — 60 to 62.   Flights were disrupted and even the Eiffel Tower was closed to tourists.  A few weeks ago, when the movement (if one can call it that) for status quo was just heating up, I heard a couple who had just turned 60, offer an argument you won’t hear on this side of the Atlantic so much these days, that they some how deserve to retire.  They felt they had paid into the pension funds and were fortunate that their pensions would not be threatened by the new law, if indeed it is passed.  In the background, one could hear the voices of their grandchildren for whom they offer care one afternoon a week because they enjoy it.

Contrast this to the desire of most Americans — I’m one of them –to continue to work and not only out of financial necessity, although that is certainly a factor given the sorry rate of saving and investments of many older adults.  The new MetLife Mature Market Institute Study finds “startling” the news that many Early Boomers plan to remain in the labor market.  But if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that we believe that money is not the only driver for the choice to continue to work.  We happen to think we will remain healthier for it — that alone is a good way to give back.  And unlike our French cohorts, we take a certain pride in continuing to contribute actively to society and to the well-being of future generations, including our own grandchildren, if we have them.   I admire many things about French culture — the food, the art, the joie de vivre, and the fact that the welfare of children is a national priority.  How they will reconcile childcare costs with an aging population that wants to be supported for 25 or more years is the question.  Send in the grownups.

Generational Warfare

How Might I/We?

Sounds like a question, but actually it’s much more. These three little words suggest that there is always an answer even if it is not immediately apparent. In fact, how-might-I/we? encourages us to dig a little deeper and get beneath our preconceived notions and cultural conditioning. It’s a radical, mind-opening approach that costs nothing and can lead to big breakthroughs.

We first encountered this model at a day long session at IDEO, a Palo Alto design firm and innovation generator, courtesy of the Purpose Prize summit. Here’s a quote from IDEO’s thinking on community that gives you an idea of what they are about: We believe that the power of community is stronger than that of a single individual, organization, or brand. Beyond the physical, cognitive and emotional factors of design, we foremost consider the social factors, asking questions and evaluating answers: How might the user’s relationships influence or motivate behaviors? How might an experience be shared with others? What is the meaning of belonging, and of identity? What drives the feeling of membership or loyalty to a bigger cause or group?

A good place to apply the how-might-I/we question is to the time of life still (despite all the evidence to the contrary) known as retirement. Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that you won’t be following the beaten path of your parents’ generation into the ‘role-less role’ they took for granted. Lots of reasons why your future will follow a different model, and not having sufficient funds is just one of them. If you’ve been paying even casual attention to the longevity revolution, you sense that something big has changed.

Recently, we were at a retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Sitting around a picnic table were eight individuals ages mid-40 and up. Seven of us had parents in their late 80s or 90s; one had an 86 year old mother who kept a busy volunteer schedule in her community and had no intention of slowing down. Clearly, this woman wasn’t settling for any so called age-appropriate role.

Between midlife and truly old age (whatever that is) is a phase most life-cycle experts haven’t given as much attention to as they might (and will). So if you often feel that you are up a creek, one paddle short, you are not alone. You’ll be better off imagining what you want out of the next 20 or more years. Set yourself free from preconceived notions of what you ‘should’ be doing, and be guided by the possibilities of discovering something you really love, whether for a paycheck or the fulfillment of giving back in some way. Innovate. Use IDEO’s How might we/I question when you have an important decision to make. You may be pleasantly surprised at how you answer.

Much Ado About Retirement Savings

As if economic news wasn’t depressing enough, this week Hewitt Associates, “a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company,” got some press with a report that is sure to fuel money worries in all but the most financially secure Boomers-and-beyond. Quote: When factoring in inflation and increases in medical costs, Hewitt predicts that employees will need to replace, on average, 126 percent of their final pay at retirement—significantly more than the traditional targets of 70 to 90 percent pay replacement. Yikes!

But all is not lost, the report goes on to say. Small changes in behavior, e.g. increasing one’s savings, smarter investing, lower fees, and delaying retirement, can “enable more people to achieve a more comfortable standard of living once they retire.” The Motley Fool does the math differently, factoring out the ‘costs that evaporate once you leave the workforce’ — Retire Well for Less That You Think — to show that you need to replace much less income than is commonly supposed.

Both miss these points: 1. You can choose to reduce your standard living in any one of a number of ways, of which clipping coupons is the least creative and downsizing your living space perhaps the most disruptive, and 2. Opting to retire in the traditional sense will almost guarantee that you’ll be increasing your medical costs, so the choice to keep working in some capacity (pro bono, if you can and wish), actually positively impacts your bottom line.

For other fresh thinking and great tips you won’t find anywhere else, get yourself a copy of the new edition of Retire on Less Than You Think by Fred Brock, former Seniority columnist of The New York Times. Accessible as a Dummies book, it includes right-on personal anecdotes like how Brock cashed in a house in Montclair, NJ for a much less expensive one in Manhattan (Kansas, that is), and not only reduced his expenses but pocketed the difference.  By the way, he also ‘retired’ from Times job to become a journalism professor.  Read this review.

Being Downsized

Last week, a young friend got the ax. She was one of 8,000 people downsized by a large investment bank with reported losses of $10 billion in the first quarter. If that figure boggles the mind, it’s only because few of us can conceive of it in any real terms. How many tall skinny lattes would $10B buy? How much human misery does downsizing cause?

It didn’t matter that she had been at this firm for 10 years and had been assured when the last round of layoffs occurred that she ‘had nothing to worry about.’ She is single and turns 40 next March, so time is certainly on her side. Also, she has credentials in another , completely different field that could soften the loss of income. But that will take time to develop, just as it will take time to recover from the blow.

At first, she was more upset about the way it happened than that it happened. If you’ve been downsized, you recognize the circumstances. You are called in, given the news, and never return to your desk. Your things are mailed to you. If you are lucky, you will get assigned to an outplacement firm which helps you sort out COBRA, severance (if any) and so on. Sometimes, you get some career counseling. But it’s all pretty cut and dried. For the pain of separation, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

In some ways, the abrupt nature of downsizing is like retirement, even when it is voluntary. Endings are wrenching, especially if you’ve been with an organization for any length of time. You grow accustomed to health care coverage, colleagues and familiar faces, work you know how to do, perhaps even enjoyed, a sense that you are needed. Suddenly, THEY don’t want you any more. How do you not take it personally?

These days, people change jobs frequently and downsizing is so much a fact of corporate life, that your resume will not be blighted by this event. And, as we all know, retirement is not irrevocable. But even the most self-confident among us needs some time to process the separation, to let the shock subside, and even to grieve, if that feels right. If there’s no financial pressure to find another position, it could be an ideal time for a sabbatical.

Unless you are in academia, chances are an opportunity to take a break won’t come around again. Why not take advantage of the breathing room, the time to think and reflect? Perhaps you will find yourself asking Big Questions, like: What am I here for? What can I do to improve my community, society, the world? What kind of impact am I making in the larger sense? And if money were no object, what kind of work would I be doing? Such a shift in perspective could be just what you needed, and never had time for.

They Flunked Retirement, and the World Will Be Better for It

What do John Kanzius and Dr. Jose Antonio Abreau have in common, beside being featured in two back-to-back good news segments on a recent 60 Minutes (April 13)? Although motivated by very different causes, both 60-somethings came out of retirement to make contributions to humanity that will be felt for generations, perhaps forever. Here are the summaries of their stories.

Unable to sleep one night during a recent bout of chemotherapy for leukemia, John Kanzius, a retired businessman and radio technician, had a brainstorm: was it possible that radio waves could kill cancer? Months of tinkering in his own garage and thousands of dollars of his own money later, he produced the Kanzius Machine which, combined with nano technology, zaps cancer cells in experimental animals, leaving healthy tissue intact.  Kanzius’ invention has been deemed promising enough to attract research funding.

El Sistema, founded by retired economist Dr. Jose Antonio Abreau in 1975, is rescuing hundreds of thousands of young Venezuelans from lives of poverty and neglect, by teaching them to play a musical instrument and introducing them into youth orchestras. The Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra, the flower of eL Sistema, now plays to packed concert halls around the world. Says Raphel Elster, one of the leaders, “We work hard. And they love it!”