Thursday, January 31, 2019

Fear of the White Space

In November, we had the pleasure of being part of an excellent all day program on retirement in Sarasota, Florida hosted by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Ringling College.  Our host was Executive Director, Janna Overstreet.  The attendees were a combination of retirees and those who are still working including some that took a day off from work to make sure they get a fulfilling next act.

One of the areas of concern was the FEAR  of the White Space.  This is a condition that affects many retirees. The white space we refer to is the amount of empty space on a person’s calendar once they retire. Some people love their new-found calendar freedom, but not everyone.

Before retirement, people dreamed about the day they no longer had to attend meetings with demanding clients or boring customers, not to mention endless sessions with the boss and the team. The idea of retiring sounded very appealing. Many call the initial stage of their retirement-- the honeymoon phase—and they live in the glow of free time and fantasies. After a few months, however, retirement bliss can change and send retirees into panic mode. Some retirees complain of being bored even feeling rudderless. The natural instinct is to immediately fill up one’s calendar with activities.

Many retirees, unsure of what they want, start to commit to anything and everything just to be busy. Very quickly the fear of the white space is replaced with a new condition which causes frequent outbursts of “now I’m too busy.” Some people admit that they have even committed to things that they really don’t care about! The remedy for this condition is to unearth interests, identify what really motivates or drives you, and then use this knowledge to select new undertakings that fulfill and energize.

Check out OLLI in your area for more great ideas.

Monday, January 14, 2019


Last week our English friends emailed us when the news broke about Andy Murray’s unplanned retirement. “He says he can’t think what he’ll do, where he’ll fit in, who he’ll be next etc. etc.” He questions who will he be when he’s not what he does anymore!  Maybe he shouldn’t RETIRE BUT REWIRE.”  Based on our friends comments we decided to probe further into Andy Murray’s dilemma, which is an area we are quite familiar with.

Andy Murray is the 31 year old reigning British tennis champion and Wimbledon star who announced his retirement from the sport due to a severe and recurring hip injury.  He has been a fierce competitor and a celebrity. He has been playing since he was 3 years old and in his first tournament at age 5.   That is a 26 year career.  His departure is sad and poignant particularly because it is not on his time schedule. He commented that he doesn’t think he will ever replace the emotional highs or the excitement that tennis has given him.  It sounds like a lot of people we’ve met who have retired and mourn the loss of their job and career.

Someone like Andy Murray has a lot of opportunity in front of him.  He could be a coach, a commentator, open a school or camp, serve on an international tennis committee, or be a spokesperson for the sport.  The list is long and is growing daily.  

Retirees’ work lives don’t have to end with sadness or the lament, “I used to be someone.” You still are the same person but without the title or the paycheck.  Like Andy Murray, retirees still have a life in front of them that can provide the emotional highs and excitement so often desired.  

Maybe it’s finding new work, volunteering for a cause you believe in strongly, being a mentor and role model, teaching formally or informally, assisting your community in an area you think is important.  Your list is long, too.  But to have new highs you have to be willing to try things, and in some cases be a beginner and risk failing.  As one of our readers told us, “I tried 5 new activities when I retired to see what would give me fulfillment.  It would have been easy to say after failing at the first, oh well, I guess that’s it for me. But I kept trying new things and dared to discard the first four. After all you can’t expect to be successful with the first try! Eventually I found a volunteer opportunity that gives me fulfillment, fun and yes even some of the emotional highs and excitement I had at work before I retired.” 

 What’s in your future?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Future of Work

Last month we attended the Atlantic's all day event on the Future of Work.  The day was full of surprises and lively discussion.  Among the topics were The State of Our Jobs, Opportunities Online,
the Freelance Economy, Can a Universal Basic Income Work, and What Will Happen to Drivers (truck drivers that is), and Is a Four Year Degree Worth It?  The underlying theme was that everyone needs to look at the world of work differently.

The old model sectioned life into three parts: education; work; retirement.  The new model has education as a life long pursuit.  Technological change will require everyone who wants to be economically viable to be enhancing their skills throughout their lives.  Many of the jobs of the future don't even exist today and will necessitate a whole new skill set.  The future of work is learning!

One of the presentations was on Upskilling the Workforce. Upskilling is a new word for us.  Simply put, you need to be constantly improving your technology skills.  PwC's U.S. Chairman, Tim Ryan, lead the discussion, which talked about an app his firm developed to assist its employees and clients to have access to meaningful technology training.  More and more firms are going to be offering this mode of education.

One of the other take aways was that a 10 year old child today will on average live to 104.  That's the average so someone who is long lived will get to be 120 or even older.  The critical message is to start saving for the future as early as you can.   But we knew that already!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Getting Prepared for the New Old Age

Last week we attended the New Old Age Conference here in New York City sponsored by the Atlantic.  It was a great program that covered many topics on aging. The day long event included presentations and panels on senior employment, care giving, Alzheimer's and dementia, ageism, leveraging technology, and much more. It was really excellent information.

One of the sessions we thought very valuable highlighted the need to start preparing for retirement at an early age. How early? Very early! 

A panel discussion stressed the need to teach children and/or grandchildren money management. After all the sooner you start saving for the big event...retirement.... the more you'll have to sustain your lifestyle.  Simple things like how to manage a budget, balance a check book, starting a savings plan, and the power of compounded interest are important tools. Sadly, schools rarely teach this critical life skill.  So if you don't do it, there is a good chance that younger members of your family will miss out.

The panel also recommended instilling in family members the need to play and exercise.  Get out from in front of the screen and go for a walk, a run, or go to the gym, or take a swim was the message.  The obesity epidemic can only be overcome if everyone is aware of good diet habits and the need for daily exercise regiments.  

These two ideas are important at any age, but if you help children get on a path towards a healthier and more financially sound future that will make their life and REWIRING even easier!  Start the conversation sooner than later.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

We do not RETIRE---We REWIRE

Recently a friend sent us this photo of an appliance repair truck that highlights that message of the need to REWIRE.  As you can expect we love to see that word used in practical and creative ways. Lamps and other electrical devices periodically need to be rewired.  Our brain, like a lamp, needs to be rewired from time to time to keep it fresh and functioning.  This is particularly true for many people facing retirement, especially those who have focused solely on work and neglected the other aspects of their life.  

Part of the REWIRE journey is to identify activities, hobbies, sports, interests, going back to school, or new work that represent opportunities for personal enjoyment, fulfillment and generating new purpose for the future.  Some of our readers have sent us some great rewirement examples of what they chose to pursue.  They frequently mention that they wish they had started exploring earlier than they did. Rather than wait to until you are already in retirement, they recommend that you start putting together an idea list of possibilities a few years before you retire.  Go back in time and consider what interested you when you were a kid, a young adult or starting out in life.  Did you collect stamps or coins, play tennis or golf, liked to fish, enjoyed traveling with your family?  Did you volunteer to help others?  

A great place to start your exploration is in your local library.  Go the sections on hobbies, sports, volunteer opportunities, etc.  Most libraries have a magazine section. Thumbing through a magazine is often a good way to generate thought starters and ideas. And if you liked fixing small appliances as a kid, maybe rewiring appliances is in your future. You could get a REWIRE truck, too! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Dr. Ruth Loves Don’t Retire, REWIRE!

Since the launch of the Third Edition of Don’t Retire, REWIRE! in August, friends have told us someone quite famous has been using our concept of rewiring! We discovered that that famous person is Dr. Ruth Westheimer! 

In a 2013 Washington Post article Dr. Ruth said “I love being Dr. Ruth, so I have never thought of retiring. I also took to heart (this saying): “Not to retire, but to rewire.” That means “don’t retire and sit in a rocking chair but do something else that is of interest to you.” 

We love the fact that Dr. Ruth is a rewiring role model and continues to rewire in her 90thyear. 

To us, Dr. Ruth’s comment that “she loves being Dr. Ruth” translates to the reality that she loves the identity and the recognition that her work allows her. Our feeling is, if you love what you do, why stop? Many of our clients, readers and audience members often tell us that their job is their identity and that they don’t want to stop working either, but not everyone has the ability to keep on working like Dr. Ruth does!

More and more people, of all stages and ages of life, are embracing the REWIRE message as Dr. Ruth has. Whether you want to continue to work, play, learn, volunteer, or all of the above… it’s important to “know yourself” and what drives you.  Just like Dr. Ruth does. 

We highly recommend that you find out what your drivers are before you embark on the next act.  Drivers are our personal motivators that when identified can be used to evaluate and select activities that provide personal fulfillment and satisfaction.  Once your drivers are engaged, you will be amazed at how exciting and gratifying life can be.  You can find out more about drivers by going to our website and clicking on the box labeled Your Self: What Drives You?  

So if you want to continue enjoying the future like Dr. Ruth, become a student of rewiring. And follow the 5 step process in Don’t Retire, REWIRE!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Thank You, Sherry Lansing

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount Pictures at an event at her home in California. I admired her Hollywood success and she loved our book, Don’t Retire, REWIRE! I always hoped the book would be made into a movie, only kidding, but we have always been gratified by Sherry’s support of our work and she gave us a wonderful quote for the new Third Edition of our book.  In many ways, she is a great example of a rewired retiree. Once Sherry left Paramount, she started the Sherry Lansing Foundation, which funds cancer research and she also works to promote stem cell research.

We felt that it would be appropriate to include a New York Times retirement article written in 2015 entitled, Even at the Top, Making Plans for Life’s ‘Third Chapter’. The stories, including one about Sherry, highlight the choices successful people have made to REWIRE their lives into meaningful and fulfilling activities in their third chapters.  Rick and I were interviewed for the article. We said it then and we continue to say it: “Do your planning in advance so you won’t get blocked out of something.” “Ask yourself, if you had infinite time and money, what would you want to do? Write these things down. Start to look now. What does it take to get there?”  

One of the major themes successful people embrace in their third chapter is helping others.  They execute their ideas in a variety of ways. The article concludes with a very heartfelt quote from Sherry: “You need to be interested and curious until the day that you die.” Now that’s a formula for success!! Thank you, Sherry.