Friday, September 6, 2019

The Power of the Rocking Chair

When people traditionally think of rocking chairs, images of "old folks homes," or parents or grandparents lulling babies to sleep come to mind.  For many the rocking chair is viewed as a bimodal piece of furniture...for the young and old only.  Personally, we think that rocking chairs have gotten a bad rap!  After this summer, we have a whole new view on the potential power of the rocking chair.

Many resorts and inns have wonderful wrap around porches often with rows of rocking chairs. These chairs beckon to us.  They challenge us to stop and sit awhile (and yes you can even have an iPhone, iPad or a little libation in hand, when rocking!). Straight back chairs allow you to sit, but they’re static and rigid. Some rockers are very traditional. Others are very stylish. Take a look next time you are at a luxury hotel …you might be surprised at the variety of rocking chairs available. 

Let’s face it, once you get over the idea that a rocking chair connotes “old” you are in for a real treat. In this fast paced, ever changing world a rocking chair can help us unwind; allow us to relax, even manage stress. This summer we met many people who had their pending retirements on their mind.  We told them to sit in a rocking chair as they began to plot their futures. The rocking movement slows us down and can even help us get some focus and clarity as we think about our rewirements. 

So let’s ROCK ON as we REWIRE! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A New Identity When You Retire

We’ve recently received e-mails from retirees asking about how to manage their loss of identity now that they have retired. One retiree painfully acknowledged that she had become her business card, and wondered who she was now? A retired CEO summed it up: ”Too late I discovered my title was fleeting and it was never about me. It was about the chair I was sitting in. Once I retired, the chair maintained its identity. I did not.”    

This “identity thing” didn’t happen overnight. Remember when you were a child and people asked you: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It was the first time we were forced to consider a new identity beyond being “a kid.” Many of us said doctor, astronaut, race car driver, teacher, or however we identified with.

When we became adults, people would outright ask, “What do you do?” Society was making us identity ourselves and it was usually by our profession or job title. This was particularly painful when people were downsized and in transition. We personally substituted “what do you do” with  “what keeps you busy?”  The question allowed people to save face. At the time we thought wouldn’t it be great if people started conversations by asking, “So what gives you joy?” but we knew that wouldn’t happen . The reality is we like to assign a label to someone because it helps us position them within our framework and it is a quicker way to start a conversation. 

From an anthropological standpoint, being a member of a tribe offers a strong sense of identity. Modern tribes can be a company, a business, clubs, religious denominations, a hobby group etc. The person who belongs to the tribe has a built-in identity.

When retirement arrives, identity can go and the tribe with it.  Loss can cause anxiety, even pain, especially if you have no new interests or passions to pursue. And pain knows no gender. 

This is the opportunity for people to rewire by re-routing their energy into new activities, paid or not, that are emotionally fulfilling and allow for the creation of a new identity.  It might not be the same…but it can still be good, maybe even better but you need to be aware of what motivates or drives you before you set out on this new journey.

In our research we discovered 85 reasons, we call Drivers, of  WHY PEOPLE WORK BEYOND MONEY? A sampling of the 85  range from Having Accomplishments to Belonging to Problem Solving, Being Valued, Wielding Power, to Having Recognition. 

Take the time to identify your Drivers; they can aid you in discovering new ideas and activities to pursue that can help you create a new identity in your next act. 

Above all try to make it enjoyable so you look forward to waking every morning with your new identity and the new tribe that goes with it.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Lee Iacocca was a REWIREE!

Lee Iacocca died last week at 94 years old. Fortune Magazine featured him on their cover in June, 1996 with the headline, “How I Flunked Retirement.” It was the first time we ever heard someone say they had flunked retirement.  He became one of our inspirations for writing our book, Don’t Retire, REWIRE!

Mr. Iacocca stated, “You plan everything in life, and then the roof caves in on you because you haven’t done enough thinking about who you are and what you should do with the rest of your life.” He also believed that Americans spent more time planning a two-week vacation than they did their future.

When we read the article, we started asking ourselves, “How can a man who had been CEO of Chrysler and Ford, someone who headed up the United States Bi-Centennial Commission and was once talked about as a contender for President of the United States flunk retirement?”  He had money, position, power and prominence. It made no sense to us at the time.

Once we began exploring the concept of flunking retirement,  we discovered it was a huge concern for many people.  Iacocca just happened to be the first person who articulated it.  Because of his status as one of the Top 100 Business Executives of the 20thCentury, people were interested in what he had to say about business. This article showed another side of Iacocca. As several pre and post retirees told us, “When I read the article, I was so happy to know I wasn’t alone. Even a man of his status had fears about retirement and the future.”

A lot has changed since 1996.  Americans are still focused on financial planning for retirement, and now the retirement coach has entered the scene to assist pre and post retirees to better self-actualize their futures.  Life planning and financial planning should always go hand in hand. Many retirees have had a much better life because Lee Iacocca let them know that planning was a key ingredient for a fulfilled future.

After the article appeared in 1996, Lee Iacocca went on to write books, start new businesses, launch takeovers and consult with start-up companies.  He enjoyed his family and being a grandparent.  He never stopped learning or doing the things that he found rewarding. He REWIRED many times and inspired others to do the same.

Thank you, Lee Iacocca.  You were a great leader on so many levels.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Don't Retire, REWIRE! Goes to Juilliard

Recently we were invited to conduct a Lunch and Learn Seminar at The Juilliard School for the performing arts.  Juilliard, located in New York City's Lincoln Center, is considered by many to be the number one conservatory in the world for aspiring artists.  Over the years we have attended numerous performances in music, dance, opera, drama, etc. at Juilliard, and have always been impressed with the intelligence, talent and commitment of these students. So it was great fun for us to be standing up in front of them for a change. The approximately 30 students who attended the program got to learn about their Drivers. Here is a picture of Jeri with some of the students.

There is an interesting back story.  After the first edition of Don't Retire, REWIRE! was published in 2002, we heard that  some college bookstores were carrying our book. As it turned out, parents and grandparents who had read it were recommending it to their children and grandchildren who would soon graduate from college. Specifically they were suggesting they take the Drivers Test, which helps an individual identify what is important to them in work and life. Word got around and campus bookstores began stocking it.

We had done extensive research prior to writing the book.  One of the questions we asked individuals was, "Why did you or do you work beyond a paycheck?"   We got back 85 different reasons. We called them Drivers. Think of Drivers as the positive and satisfying emotional rewards we get from the activities we participate in.   We believe that individuals who have the most rewarding work experiences or retirements are those that select work, either paid or volunteer, that fulfills their Drivers.  Learning your Drivers is important at any age.

Thank you, Juilliard,  for giving us the opportunity.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Grow Old

HOW TO GROW OLD, Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life was written almost 2,000 years ago in 44 B.C. by the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero. In 2016 a new edition translated and with an introduction by Philip Freeman was published.  It is a gem of a book with timeless perspective on aging and  invaluable advice on how to live a fulfilling life in later years. It is a read worth the time.

Many of us believe that old age is to be dreaded and avoided (if that was even possible) at all costs.  Cicero, instead, finds joy and a form of freedom in being older and as he says, "wiser."  He points out others who are role models because they kept their minds " tight as a bow."  Today we say use it or lose it, but it means the same thing.

He counsels against the bad behaviors of over indulgence in food and drink.  Exercising self control is a big deal for him.  One of our readers told us, "Cicero gives the same advise my doctor gives me. Now I know where he (the doctor) got it."

Cicero acknowledges that life can be difficult. "...what troubles doesn't it have."  However, he celebrates life and all the learnings and experiences that he garners it the pursuit of living.  You could say that he was really an early motivational speaker, highlighting that conquering difficulties is just part of the game and makes us wiser as a result.  He also believes the quest for youth is a waste of time.  If you read the book, you will find out why.

Princeton University Press is the publisher.  In their write up they feature the "French philosopher, Montaigne, who said that Cicero's book 'gives one an appetite for growing old'."  Two of our Founding Fathers, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, not only read the book but did so frequently to remind themselves of the wisdom required to age well.  Franklin, a printer by trade, even re-published it in the hope that more readers would benefit from the sage advice within.

It is a short book for a long life.  We highly recommend it.  Think of it as a companion reader to Don't Retire, REWIRE!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Dig Up the Past to Plan Your Future

We just returned from a two week archeological tour of Israel.  One of the sites we visited was a dig that had unearthed 21 layers of history.  Said another way, over time 21 different historical communities existed at the same location.  When one community ended, another was built over it. During the subsequent millennium, new "civilizations" took hold.  It is hard to imagine when you see how compressed each layer is.  21 different histories exist in about 20 feet of strata.

Our guide loved the concept of REWIRING.  We all agreed that each community needed to REWIRE itself through the ages.

Archeological digs are like individuals.  We have many different historical layers of our lives involving interests, work, hobbies and opportunities.  People who seem to have the best retirements periodically excavate their own lives.  You don't need a shovel or a pick to get to the other layers.  You need some time to reflect on what you were previously interested in and to determine if a spark still exists that can ignite your interest all over again.

Our readers often contact us with their own stories of excavation and how they ended up with renewed interests after retirement.  Among the ideas cited were rediscovered old activities and hobbies they had has children or as teenagers.  Some even report they have used past ideas to start an entrepreneurial venture that has enabled them to keep working.  Put on your Indiana Jones hat and start digging!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Yes! There are Opportunities for Workers Over 50!

Age discrimination still exists, but not everywhere.  There is something new in the air that feels like opportunity.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics exceptionally low unemployment rates have resulted in over 7.3 million U.S. jobs being unfilled.  If you are thinking about leaving retirement behind and going back to work, now may be the time. According to The Job Network older workers are in demand.   If you are thinking of changing jobs even though you are over the age of 50, the stars may have lined up for you.  Significantly low unemployment rates are creating a much more receptive environment for older adult workers.  Numerous articles are appearing that highlight that older workers are being valued. recently published an article entitled "The Proven Value of Workers Over 50" demonstrating the stability, work ethic and dependability that this work force segment represents.   HR departments are becoming believers.  The momentum is on your side and we think it's about time!

It may also be a good time to invest in yourself.  Some individuals are going back to school and getting a new degree and others are pursing certifications that will permit them to start a whole new career.  Online learning represents a new opportunity to learn while you are still working. The costs of many online programs are decreasing rapidly making them affordable as well as convenient.

If you are already retired and are getting the itch to get back in the game, you don't have to go back to the same type job unless you want to. If doing something entirely different appeals to you, begin by  asking yourself what kind of work would you like to do. Come up with some ideas and start investigating.  If you hit on one that seems to be a good fit, see if you can find an internship.  Yes, older workers do get internships.  An internship will either confirm the job is for you or isn't a dream but a nightmare.  You can save a lot of time and false starts this way.  Often, internships can convert to full time positions.

Older workers can readily see that keeping up with evolving technology is a necessity if you want to remain competitive.  More and more companies are assigning older workers to age diverse teams that also include younger workers who are on the cutting edge of the latest computer updates.  The team benefits from older and younger experience.

Don't give up before you start. You may be pleasantly surprised when a potential employer asks you, "How soon can you start?"