Keeping Right On In The Third-Age Years
Jim Green created his own retirement masterplan when he retired a few years ago. Now in his seventies he enjoys runs his own internet business. He is based in Glasgow.
No one goes on forever, that is for sure, so it behoves us to make the very best of every moment of what is left of the rest of our lives. As Sir Harry Lauder sang to audiences around the world:
Keep right on to the end of the road, keep right on to the end.
Tho’ the way be long, let your heart be strong, keep right on round the bend.
Tho’you’re tired and weary, still journey on, till you come to your happy abode,
Where all you love you have been dreaming of will be there at the end of the road.
Maudlin, perhaps, but it sums the situation up nicely.
Creating your own retirement success profile
Here is something you can do to ensure that you are heading in the right direction as you keep right on to the end of the road. Subject your plan of enactment to a retirement success profile. To do this, visit www.retirementoptions.com (Fig. 15.1) and click on ‘Your Retirement Options’. There you will learn how you can undertake the profile and so put your exclusive plan to the test.
There are 15 retirement success factors involved in this exercise.
- 1Career reorientation: Let go.
- 2Retirement value: Reframe your attitudes.
- 3Personal empowerment: Take charge.
- 4Physical wellness: Grow well.
- 5Monetary adequacy: Find your wealth.
- 6Quality of life (present): Seek peace.
- 7Quality of life (future): Have dreams.
- 8Spirituality/meaning: Construct purpose.
- 9Respect for leisure: Have fun.
- 10Personal flexibility: Welcome change.
- 11Lifespan spiritual development: Live now.
- 12Care-giving responsibilities: Honour yourself.
- 13Home life: Get connected.
- 14Maturation vitality: Become ageless.
- 15Replacement of work functions: Get going.
With your own retirement success profile to hand, you will have solid proof of the relevance of the material to your own life. Since the profile describes you alone, you become concretely yet intimately aware that this learning is personal; the material isn’t for the person sitting next to you, it is for you. And with the specific adult learning suggestions and learning activities that flow from your profile, you will immediately realise that the experience is individually practical.
Capitalising on inner strengths
You have been around for some time, picked up some valuable skills, and developed inner strengths, all of which you will now put to good use to ensure a happy and successful retirement. Among these inner strengths is one that is heightened by advancing years: the ability to harness mind power. Human mind power is awesome. We all live in a mind world, and how each of us conceives in our mind’s eye what is happening in our world actually makes it so. You won’t jump to conclusions nearly as readily as you might once have done, if you discipline yourself always to use mind power effectively by the continuous application of positive thought and action.
Maximising brain power to speed up self-actualisation
Your brain is equally awesome, more awesome than the most powerful computer ever invented or still to be conceived. It can translate into action all your ideas, and achieve your every scenario, ambition, and daydream. Those who know about such things reckon that on average we use only one tenth of this power in finding our way around life. How much more efficient we would all become by increasing this percentage by just another five points. Combine mind power (the catalyst) with brain power (the engine) and you will begin to close in on stretching the barriers.
In their book Manage Your Mind (Oxford University Press, 2003), authors Gillian Butler and Tony Hope list four keep-fit mental strategies that are smack in line with the retirement success strategies featured in this book.
- Clarify your goals and values.
- Manage your time.
- Study efficiently.
- Develop your full potential.
By adopting and using these keep-fit mental strategies, you will develop the skills and attitudes that enable you to lead a more fulfilling and productive life in your retirement years.
‘Seven over 70’
The October 2003 edition of Management Today featured an article entitled ‘Seven over 70’, in which the contributor Rebecca Hoar reviewed the busy lifestyles of seven luminaries over the age of 70: Lika-Shing (75), Rupert Murdoch (72), Sir Kenneth Morrison (71), Queen Elizabeth II (77), Alan Greenspan (77), Bernie Ecclestone (72), and Liliane Bettencourt (78), the L’Oréal heiress. Rebecca reports:
None of us is getting any younger, but maybe in the world of work that doesn’t matter as much as it used to. A mood swing is underway in the West: after a decade that ended in the ridiculous youth-led excesses of the dot.com boom, there is now a new respect – which has always been present in Eastern cultures-for the values of experience that greying hair brings. Under new legislation due to come into force in 2006, age limits on jobs will no longer be legal. Add to this the parlous state of pension schemes and the fact that it may become compulsory (or, at least, financially desirable) to work beyond the current retirement age, and it becomes clear that we should start treating the older generation with greater respect. Over-60s represent a huge and under-used repository of marketable skills, which forward-thinking employers ignore at their peril.
Food for thought for all up-and-coming retirees.
But ask yourself this: why are Rupert Murdoch, Alan Greenspan et al. still hacking it out there in the marketplace? They certainly don’t need the money. Could it be that, like Lord Attenborough, they can’t see purpose in retirement? Don’t let this happen to you. When the time comes to let go, let go, and enjoy your new-found freedom in the third age. You aren’t retiring from life, just the full-time workplace.
‘Finding happiness in retirement’
Of equal significance in our quest for an enriching lifestyle is another pragmatic article, which first appeared in the St Louis Dispatch. It was written by Joanne Waldman, MEd, under the inspiring title ‘Finding happiness in retirement’. Joanne debates:
Retirement is more complex than just receiving the gold watch and going off into the sunset. One of the factors comprising a successful retirement is Work Reorientation – the degree to which you have emotionally distanced yourself from taking your personal identity from work. In a lifetime, it is a natural process to disengage from work. However, it may be a very difficult process for those who primarily define themselves by their work or those who are workaholics. Redefining self without the benefit of a title is a frightening thought for many people. In social situations, and after an introduction, are you frequently asked ‘What do you do?’
How will you answer that question once you are retired?
When you retire, it is necessary to shift your perspective from what you do to who you are. How can you move away from a definition of yourself based on your material accomplishments toward a growth definition of self? First, you could say that your worth isn’t your work and still recognise your worthiness. Next, learn to put yourself first in order to discover your true self. The internal journey isn’t easy and takes time along with self-introspection to come up with a new self-definition. Utilising the expertise of a retirement coach can be useful.
At 64, Tim felt that he wanted to start looking at his retirement options. Although not yet ready to retire, he was a self-described workaholic and knew that he was not prepared to successfully retire while still so engrossed with his work. He worked on getting to know himself again. Through written and verbal exercises and assessments, Tim spent time relearning and discovering his likes, dislikes, strengths and accomplishments. Then he began to design and set goals around his ideal retirement. He planned to phase into retirement by working full-time for a couple more years and then gradually decreasing his workload. During that time, he planned to explore new leisure pursuits, decide where to live in retirement, and to enjoy his grandchildren. Tim committed to learning how to slow down and live life to its fullest.
The idea of a gradual slowdown worked well for Tim, as he could not see himself stopping work one day without a plan to follow. In addition, he found his new definition of himself to be very empowering. He had more energy to try on new roles, learn new things and to pursue interests and dreams that had been lost in all those years of work.
Loss is a key element in all transition. In retirement, you may give up your role as a worker and redefine yourself from doing to being. Gradually accepting the loss and planning for retirement will make the transition easier for you.
So ask yourself these questions to see where you are in this process: To what degree do you feel that you have emotionally distanced yourself from your career? How much do you see your work as defining who you are? And how much of your personal worth is tied up in your work?
By answering these questions and exploring this issue, you are taking your first step toward your new retirement.
Glancing over your shoulder at what might have been is a waste of time, because what might have been is just that and no more. It might have been. As you enter into the glorious third age, you must put the past behind you and concentrate on the here and now; the only time you ever have. The pressure is off, responsibilities diminished, and the way open to achieving anything and everything you put your mind to.
Once retired, for most people it seems that there is a honeymoon phase of approximately 9 to 18 months, when time can be passed with leisure pursuits only. But then, from nowhere, comes the nagging question: ‘Surely there must be more to life than this?’ It is at this time that, unless pre-planning has been done well before the actual retirement date, uneasiness with life may set in.
Pre-retirement planning in all areas of life is essential, especially in this era of much earlier retirement. Today’s demographics of many baby boomers retiring in their 50s over the next five to ten years opens up a whole future lifetime of possibilities and options. If you are recently retired or contemplating retirement, how will you deal with your new beginnings? Here is how.
- 1Identify the keys to a happy and successful retirement.
- 2Set goals for your new way of life.
- 3Monitor progress with an audit checklist.
- 4Devise a masterplan.
- 5Go for it!
Using grey hair wisdom to talk your way out of trouble
Almost exactly one year after the first edition of this book came out I was invited to address a group of retirees at a seminar in Essex, but when I arrived at the venue I discovered that my books had failed to show.
Oh, copies of a book had arrived okay but not my book Your Retirement Masterplan.
Someone at the distribution warehouse had highlighted the wrong ISBN, clicked, and provided their despatch department with erroneous data.
So what do you do when you are confronted with a bemused public relations consultancy – and several boxes containing some other author’s book?
- I assured them that events would pan out satisfactorily;
- I requested permission to re-jig the programme and tag a 30-minute Q & A session onto the end of my talk;
- I telephoned the publisher who instructed the distributor to instantly courier a consignment of the correct book (fortuitously the warehouse was only 25 miles away from the venue).
As it happens, the Q & A session went down a bundle with the audience and lasted for almost 60 minutes, which was just as well because that’s when the copies of my book arrived – just in time for the deferred signing ceremony.
What goes around comes around and all in all I was pleased with the day’s work.
Grey hair wisdom came to the rescue coupled with the fact that I had seen it all before – and worse.
It’s All Free for Seniors!
Finally, a little bonus I chanced upon as I was completing this chapter: a handy information manual for retirees, entitled It’s All Free for Seniors! You won’t find it in bookshops, because it is only procurable by mail order from the address below. Here is a preview of the core content.
- Get free prescriptions.
- Get free dental and eye care.
- Get income support without signing on.
- Get help paying your rent.
- Claim your council tax benefit.
- Keep warm in winter. (Cash is available for fuel bills.)
- Get free money to spruce up your home.
- Get the best solicitors to sort out legal problems for free.
- Get a budget loan to make a major purchase.
- Get help with the costs of travelling to see someone who is ill.
- Get cash to make your home draught-free this winter.
- Get cash to install security locks.
- Get an extra pension when you reach 80.
- Get free hearing aids and batteries.
- Get help with your phone bill.
- Visit your chiropodist for free.
- Get financial compensation if are mugged or burgled.
- Get free health care for your pets.
- Get a crisis loan in emergencies.
- Get help for disabled seniors.
- Fly anywhere at discounts of up to 90 percent.
If you are as intrigued by the content as I was, you can get a copy of It’s All Free for Seniors! by sending a cheque or postal order for £9.95 to Windsor Health, Emery House, Brunel Road, Southampton SO40 3SH.
There is life after work and hope in abundance, so take each day as it comes and never attempt tomorrow’s tasks today. Keep active, and the ill-advised assertion that retirees ‘eat half the day and sleep the other half won’t ever describe you. Above all, look after yourself; but be prepared for the odd shock. Just lately, the joints in my fingers have started to seize up one by one with the onset of arthritis, so I don’t know how long I will be able to tap the keys as freely as I do now. C’est la vie. Maybe I could locate an online course on toe typing for digitally challenged retirees ...
And now, let me take my leave of you with my favourite quotation from my favourite author, Vernon Howard, who, during his lifetime, broke through to the higher plane and, 12 years after his death, continues to share his wisdom with countless millions: ‘You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.’ May the life force flourish in all that you undertake in the glorious third age.
If you have a question, or would like to discuss any aspect of this book, feel free to contact me ([email protected]).