Why It Matters to Know When You Leave Midlife Behind

iphone 2016 349“Let’s pretend for a moment that I am 73.”

That’s what I said to the audience an hour into my presentation, The New New Rules of Retirement. They knew immediately this was make-believe because I don’t look 73.

At least I don’t think I look 73. Anyway I am not 73…yet.

“If I am 73, am I old?”

The crowd is reluctant to answer. They murmur. Finally a brave soul shouts, “Yes, you are old.”

The audience grumbles at his truth. The age label isn’t playing well. Frankly, some look sorry for me when they are not looking at the floor.

The room turns quiet. Finally and firmly, one late-fifties executive states, “Naw, she’s not old.”

“Then, what am I? Am I middle aged?” I asked.

An audience member raises her hand. She needs clarification.

“Are you asking if you are middle aged at 73?”

“Yes.”

Clearly, I am messing with them but for a very good reason.

iphone 2016 317Life’s Morning, Afternoon and Night

In your late 50s, 60s and 70s, life requires a new identity – one that combines elements of the past with today’s realities. Self-concepts are perplexing enough without bamboozling age labels to confuse us.

And we are confused. What is old? What is middle aged? Am I old? And what about you there approaching the backside of 50? How long before you’re old?

The developmental stages we once relied on to gauge our passages through life are no longer reliable.

–Adolescence – Adulthood – Old

This defunct model is much too contained for life as we know it and utterly useless in forming a new identity.

Still somewhere in your life is the middle and within the middle, a mid-point. There is beauty in symmetry but when the midpoint is passed, the proportion of your time on earth lessens.

Life forever more is asymmetrical.

We’re so busy we hardly notice.

IMG_4679The Middle Knows

In today’s world those between the ages of 40-60 are typically considered to be middle-aged. But there’s at least a 10-year range on either end, so that it’s not uncommon to consider middle age to begin at 30 and end at 75.

One-third of Americans in their 70s think of themselves as middle-aged (National Council on Aging, 2000).

Typically we feel ten years younger than we are. Age is a factor in our identity (we’re lying if we say it’s not.) If we feel fifty but we’re really sixty, can we use the this-is-how-old-I-feel age instead of the chronological age?

Some of us might like that.

New life stages are being created because of longevity.

Young Old

Mature Adulthood

Late Adulthood (80+)

Old Age

Very Old Age

Does it matter when midlife begins and ends? Maybe not.

But knowing you’re passing through the midpoint is a chance to choose how to view the road ahead. Now that matters.

IMG_4582Halfway Home

On my bike I know exactly the midpoint of the ride – the place where I take a swig of Gatorade, turn the bike around and head home.

But a midpoint in life is no roundabout for retracing a path we’ve traveled.

We can feel proud about the life we’ve lived; we can feel unsettled that life hasn’t been as good or great as we anticipated.

What we all have in common in midlife is an end.

Why does it matter to know we’ve passed the middle of life?

Because in life’s middle a future remains. Slightly lopsided with less time, we may want to flee into busyness.

Actually you should just do this:

Admire the first half of life. Behold the second.

Dividing our life in half may be a more simplistic approach than deciding what to call our particular life stage. I recommend it.

In the first half – from youth to midlife – things typically are pretty clear; after that– the path extends forward and is less obvious.

In fact the next pathway – the one after midlife – may be the murkiest ever. It’s easy to begin to feel completely lost. Some can see no way forward; still others take a path too quickly then find life after the middle disappointing or less than fulfilling.

I’ve interviewed individuals who pass the midpoint and whip their lives into relevance and engagement through work, relationships, and travel. The life they create is one they will cultivate well into old age or old,old, old age.

I am crazy in love with their spirits.

IMG_4586How Long the Road

Mid-life is long. It may be the most central period in life.

The proportion of time ahead in your living after midlife is unknown but this uncertainty  is not new. Life has always been hazardous and precarious.

If you feel in the middle of life or even way past the middle, pause and gain perspective before attempting to figure anything out. Absorb the time landscape of your life.

At some point you will need to collect your self – all of your experiences, talents, aspirations, dreams – to begin to create life and define yourself in a new way.

But for now do what you sometimes do in the middle of a curve on a gorgeous mountain parkway when you see the sign, “Scenic Overlook.” Pull over and take the moment in stride.

If I am 73 am I old or middle aged?

What life stage are you in?  When did you leave midlife behind?

It matters not. Nothing matters except understanding you are not done.

iphone 2016 530Be Curious. Let Me Inspire You.

Do me a favor.  Take a few more minutes and foster my need as a teacher to leave you stirred, enchanted and motivated.

Read Foreseeing, a poem by Sharon Bryan and turn the volume up to listen to a song that amazingly fits heading toward the second half of life.

I promise you will feel outrageous in your love of the journey after the midpoint.

Foreseeing

by Sharon Bryan from Flying Blind

Middle age refers more
to landscape than to time:
it’s as if you’d reached

the top of a hill
and could see all the way
to the end of your life,

so you know without a doubt
that it has an end—
not that it will have,

but that it does have,
if only in outline—
so for the first time

you can see your life whole,
beginning and end not far
from where you stand,

the horizon in the distance—
the view makes you weep,
but it also has the beauty

of symmetry, like the earth
seen from space: you can’t help
but admire it from afar,

especially now, while it’s simple
to re-enter whenever you choose,
lying down in your life,

waking up to it
just as you always have—
except that the details resonate

by virtue of being contained,
as your own words
coming back to you

define the landscape,
remind you that it won’t go on
like this forever.

Lacking a video allows you to give full attention to the audio and lyrics by Jake Reese, a singer-songwriter from The Netherlands.

If this content leads to a bit of fresh thinking, new perspective or resonates with you, please “Like” this post. Thank you in advance.

I invite you to make a comment, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Special thanks to all of you who continue to forward posts. I appreciate that!

All Photos by B. Pagano, 2016, San Miguel de Allende

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Working Retirement: 7 Things To Do Within 5 Years of Leaving Your Job

IMG_0547It’s no joke. You intend to create a different kind of life in the future.

In this imagined life, you cease responding to texts and emails that waste your time. You’ll never again endure a narcissist’s rant.

No long commutes, improbable targets and boring, stupid meetings.

No way.

In this new life, the day unfolds just the way you’d like. You’ll ditch every person who really doesn’t matter to you because that’s what people do when time is precious.

Imagine that.

Ahead is travel, moments to stare at a river running, tea on the porch with old Aunt Phoebe and sharing gourmet strawberry-blueberry popsicles with a four-year-old grandchild who makes you swoon.

You’ll work.  Oh yeah.

This work beams enthusiasm and engagement into your life because you choose it. Best of all, you’ll make some money and avoid the #1 reported worry of running out of money in retirement.

Life will be grand, believe me.

IMG_0691Lights, Camera … Now What?

If you are mid-50s, 60s or 70s and don’t think this way, you should.

Just ahead is a big chunk of freedom, time and more than enough choices to create a life doing more what you want. It’s the last shot at getting it right which makes it different than other times in life.

This new life that heads straight for us but seems far away gets little of our bandwidth.

We make no firm plans. We prepare nothing in advance, put nothing in order nor concoct even one hair brain scheme to test the premise that the last third of life could be our very best.

It’s pure madness.

IMG_0201Become a Warrior for Your Future

Yes, I have a snarky attitude when it comes to a lack of thought and plans for a life of productive longevity from ages 60-90.

I survived an unfortunate experience of boredom and confusion caused by doing exactly what most of you do – “not thinking about what you want life to be or exploring the work you want to do.”

The good news is I made it out of that hard transition and now I do have a life I love. The life I crafted has meaningful work, vistas of tugs on the inter-coastal waterway with morning coffee, months-long Airbnb rentals in third world countries and cycles along the turquoise pristine water of the Gulf of Mexico.

I manage to do all this while keeping a good marriage going with a traditionally retired man. You can applaud here.

Many think what lies ahead will be a great adventure. I so agree.

I’m not against the idea of  “figure it all out when I get there.” It works for a few.

But many more professionally successful and smart individuals bomb one of the most important life transitions ever. The stumble surprised them.

Don’t let that happen to you.

IMG_06257 Things You Can Do Within 5 Years of Retirement

Nearly three out of five retirees launch into a new line of work, and working retirees are three times as likely as pre-retirees to be entrepreneurs according to data in Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, a study by Merrill Lynch.

You want a working retirement to stay relevant, engaged, and improve your wellbeing.  Most important, retirement income is the best financial plan.

Right now you don’t need a map, a business plan, goals or a shrink.

Just set some things in motion.

These seven ideas help build a firmer foundation for career transition and gain information for decision-making in the future.

1. Make Stronger Connections with the Young at Work

Arguably the most striking conversations in workplaces today are about how different the generations are. You may want to reduce your hours at your current job, become a consult within your existing workplace or start your own business within your industry.

Your success hinges on effective working relationship with people thirty years younger than you.

  • Will they be cheerleaders for you staying onboard?
  • Would they want you as a mentor?
  • How willing would they be to teach you things you need to know in your new business?

Millennials are now the largest living generation and they are smart as tacks. Go talk to them, share your expertise, become a better boss, colleague and friend.

2. Find Your Geography of Place

Research confirms that place -where you choose to live – forms the third leg in the triangle of wellbeing, alongside personal relationships and our work. This place forms the building blocks – the environment, people and activities – we will use for identity and belonging in a new life stage.

Do you know where your Geography of Place is? 

Time to go find it. Be intentional about exploring places you might like to live. Go visit your possibilities with the lens of “is this the place I want to live and work?”

  • Do mountains or deserts fuel your creative spirit?
  •  Can you live anywhere in the world with a good internet connect to do your future work?
  • Do you need a city has the best resources and networking for your next career?

Thinking about becoming a senior entrepreneur? Here are the top 10 cities for older entrepreneurs. Portland has the top spot.

And if you are currently living in your ‘geography of place’ but want a house on the other side of town, make that move now. Don’t wait to sort through ten years of stuff, negotiate a sale, a buy, and a move. (Stressful!)

Start your new life and work with the stress of a real estate transaction and move behind you.

3. Start That Hobby or Dust One Off

Dreams for retirement often include, “I’ll get back into something I loved to do.” The operative word is loved as in once when I was young I found this joyful. Past tense because you haven’t touched that hobby for years evidenced by the rusty, covered 1965 Buick Rivieria next to the garage or the embroidery machine in the attic.

Revive that old hobby and get a current reading on the joy meter. That hobby could be your next work if you still love it or open up a space for new possibilities if it’s time to move on.

Likewise if think your future obsession is bird watching then spring for a field guide and take a crack at it on a long vacation to Ecuador.

Open up a new life with a launch into things you know fit you now.

4. Start Interval Training for New Career

One new working lifestyle is to create an entirely different career. Gaining experience can happen later, but right now build knowledge through courses, workshops and online seminars.

You can even go further. For example, Paul launched a home inspection business immediately after he retired and moved to Florida. He completed certifications and obtained his license during the last two years of his full time job.

Could organic farming be your new thing? WWOOF – Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms – connects people and places for you to gain experience in organic farming and the lifestyle by volunteering (accommodations and meals included.)

While vacation time might work for this kind of experience a career break of 4-6 weeks would be better. (See #6 – Take a Pre-Retirement Sabbatical.)

5. Re-Charge Your Network

Individuals who successfully transitioned into work after retirement found that a strong network was key to success. While we have garnered a large network during our careers with 500-plus connections on LinkedIn, many of us have let networks go stale. The reality is that those contacts and connections are not current.

Marc Miller and Susan Lahey, authors of Repurpose Your Career, suggests we need a tribe – a small group of people who will get us through a career pivot. Your tribe could be within your network of old connections.

Ignite some of these friendships one at a time by reaching out, admitting you’ve lost touch and show an interest in them. That’s a best first step to an active, strong network.

6. Take a Pre-Retirement Sabbatical

Chris Farrell, author of the outstanding resource, Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think about Work, Community and the Good Life advocates a pre-retirement sabbatical.

Time out can be designed in a variety of ways – an internship for cheesemaking, reflection, or finding a geography of place.

Individuals successfully negotiate sabbaticals at any stage of their careers. But now, more than ever, the time out from your career can add momentum and clarity to a future life you choose.

The Ultimate Toolkit for Writing and Presenting a Killer Sabbatical Proposal Your Boss Can’t Refuse is the best, most valuable resource you’ll want to accomplish this. 

7. Do One Wild Thing.

Audiences always ask me “what do you mean by this?”

Simply put, many of us have forgotten how to flirt with possibilities.

Often the intentional act of doing something we deem extraordinary and out of our comfort zone (way out preferably) ignites a dormant place within us.

We become more ambitious for living.

Life is heightened  when you find your wild heart again. Discover Your Wild Heart: Sleep Under a Railroad Trestle will get you going.

 

Let’s close with this:

Something Hidden.

Go and Find It. Go

   And look behind the ranges —

Something Lost

Behind the Ranges.

  Lost and Waiting

For You. Go!

-Rudyard Kipling-

IMG_0396 IMG_0658I invite you to make a comment, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Special thanks to all of you who continue to forward posts. I appreciate that!

All Photos by B. Pagano.

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Ten Ways to Transition into Paid Work Instead of Retirement

2014-10-04 15.37.08Yesterday outside Publix, I ran into an old friend. We talked, caught up and then he asked about my work.

“I’m helping people uncover possibilities for being productive in work until they want to retire at 85!”

He smiled. Gene is in his mid-sixties and lost his administrative job for a successful land developer when the economy sunk the business several years ago.

“Barbara,” he said, “I’m pretty much wasting away in front of the TV and doing social stuff. I would give anything short of bagging groceries to have work for 2-3 days a week.”

Gene isn’t depressed or unhappy with his life. But he could be happier if he were involved in work that utilized his talents.

If you are unemployed, already retired or looking ahead, the journey to discover work you want to do can confuse and overwhelm even the smartest, creative and most successful individual.

We are in the midst of a cultural shift – creating new paths for work and careers in this age of longevity – where many of us will have an addition 25-30 years of potential productive living ahead.

The good news is the world of work is opening up many possibilities for a late-in-life work-groove that fits the lifestyle you want to create.

This post is for you, Gene. Continue reading

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Endless Careers, Productive Longevity, Reconstuct Retirement, Self-Management | Leave a comment

My Life, My Art: How to Make 2016 Your Kick-Ass Year

Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum. - Steven Pressfield
Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum. – Steven Pressfield

We live our lives. We don’t make our lives. Isn’t that right?

Of course not. I know you know this.

We make the lives we live – step by step, plunge by plunge. We construct, formulate and compose a production using our energies and spirit along with whatever else is thrown our way.

Currently our life’s play is stimulating, wonderful, dissatisfying, miserable, boring or downright dull. Yours may be infused with drama, a mishmash of responsibilities and consequences, just plain messy or ho-hum.

Unable to put your finger on what you don’t like about the scene in progress is bad enough. But now here comes an unwelcome interruption from a backstage voice booming a line that makes me cringe:

“You made your bed, now go lie in it.”

This is a punitive way of saying that we create the conditions of our condition.

Perhaps. But I don’t buy you have to stay in that bed.

Life as you know it can be better.

Continue reading

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When Old Friends Aren’t Good Friends Anymore

iphone pix 082015 103 Let’s begin this valuable, well-researched and personal rant on friendship at the playground.

“Do you want to play with me,” asks the three-year-old.

What happens next can be heartwarming or heartbreaking.

Sometimes there’s no reply, simply a look between two kids before they begin to play together.

Just as often, a child says, “No,” turns and walks away. At other times, a stare is issued then he walks away.

But that’s okay. Liam, my grandson, will keep trying for that right person to be his friend for the next thirty minutes before he has to go home. He usually succeeds. I admire his patience and tenacity.

Getting refused three times in a row makes me want to head home. But not Liam.

No, he’ll run his truck through the dirt again and again until another child comes by. Then, he’ll look up and ask for the 4th time, “Do you want to play with me?”

We learn how to make friends early and we keep them – for a while, many years or a lifetime.

What we don’t learn is how to make sense of friendships gone bad or how to end being friends.

Friendships are far more complex than we might think. But most of us make our friends without consulting a manual and no one queries our theory of friendship.

A friendship doesn’t have clear timelines and boundaries, no ceremonial beginning and end. Still, friends are interwoven into our lives and we enjoy them … until we don’t.

Faced with breaking up with a friend is where I am now. It feels bad and will likely hurt, a little or alot.

This is not a sappy post about loser feelings when friendships end.

Still, let’s insert some heart breakin’ lyrics before we enter the kingdom of friendship to unravel our expectations, responsibilities and why we might carry the torch too long for a friendship that is over.

Just try to read the chorus from Fire & Rain without singing it. Impossible.

                I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
                I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
                I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
                But I always thought that I’d see you again

Continue reading

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Starry, Starry ‘Life’ – Inspire Your Reinvention with a Transition Story (6 Tips and 9 Ideas)

I dream my painting, and I paint my dream. - Van Gogh
I dream my painting, and I paint my dream. – Van Gogh

What’s the dream for your life ahead? How hard are you pushing yourself to get it?

The Rijksmuseum is TripAdvisor’s #1 rated ‘Things to do” in Amsterdam. But not for me. On my visit last month I wanted none of those dark Dutch paintings.

I wanted Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry Night.” Turns out “The Starry Night” is in New York and part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Permanent Collection since 1941.

Never mind. The  Van Gogh Museum is spectacular without it.

Spectacular? Yep. With three floors of 850 paintings, 1300 works on paper, and insights from his correspondence (940 letters), you come to know Van Gogh – the person, the artist, his heartaches and determination.

There’s Van Gogh the junior clerk at an art firm, the teacher, the bookseller and the preacher. All this before he decided to become an artist at the age of 27. Self-taught, unmarried, childless and supported (and loved) by his brother, Theo. The public did not know of Van Gogh until after his death at 37; he sold one painting during his lifetime.

The Van Gogh Museum experience was a highlight of my time in Holland and later that afternoon I recalled another museum two years ago with floor after floor of colorful works of art.

The Museu Picasso de Barcelona houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso whose life circumstances are the flip side of Van Gogh’s.

Picasso started to paint when he was eight, finished his first painting at nine (the year Van Gogh died) and at 13 he entered Barcelona’s School of Fine Arts, where his father taught. Picasso was an established artist at 20. Fame, fortune, numerous love affairs, three children – Picasso led the “good life.” He died at 91.

Each of these artists influenced future art and over 100 years later their works sell for millions.

In May 2015, Van Gogh’s “L’allée Des Alyscamps” was the big seller at Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art auction bringing $66.3 million – when it expected to sell for 40 million.
In May 2015, Van Gogh’s “L’allée Des Alyscamps” was the big seller at Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art auction bringing $66.3 million – when it expected to sell for 40 million.
Days later Picasso’s painting Women of Algiers set the record for the highest price ever paid for a painting when it sold for US$179.3 million at Christie's in New York.
Days later Picasso’s painting Women of Algiers set the record for the highest price ever paid for a painting when it sold for US$179.3 million at Christie’s in New York.

What does this have to do with you?

These twentieth century artists have two things in common:

  • Extraordinary productivity especially toward the end of their lives
  • A fire in their internal soul to continue their work – forever.

Neither of these artists allowed their flame for their work to be extinguished. You and I must discover and foster how this might be possible in our own lives.

How’s your flame doing?

When I was studying interior architecture, and playing around with glass because I really liked glass. There was one night when I blew a bubble and put a pipe into this glass I had melted and blew a bubble. From that moment, I wanted to be a glassblower. - Dale Chihuly Read more a
When I was studying interior architecture, and playing around with glass because I really liked glass. There was one night when I blew a bubble and put a pipe into this glass I had melted and blew a bubble. From that moment, I wanted to be a glassblower.
– Dale Chihuly

Off to Work We Go

It would have been understandable for Van Gogh to allow hardships which included anxiety, poverty and mental instability to dim his passion. Picasso didn’t need the money or much more fame. He could have stopped midlife.

Yet, in the last years of their lives they continued to pour energy into their work with remarkable results.

  • In his final years, Picasso had a tremendous last burst of productivity painting with the phenomenal speed he had had as a teenager in Barcelona.
  • Van Gogh painted 70 works in the last two months of his life.

People with high Career Wellbeing – doing meaningful work – are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall. (If you want to understand the research and documentation for choosing work, see Why You Must Dare, Dream and Work – Forever.)

We must ask:

How can we keep our flame for work and life from diminishing?

Do you feel your flame for putting your talents and skills to use in new ways?

Can you imagine doing your ‘work’ until the very last day of your life? Continue reading

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Reinventing Yourself? Why You Need a Transition Story.

  amsterdam 242  amsterdam 195

The inside window ledges of the homes in Northern Holland tell stories.

During my ten-day visit I saw handsome turquoise pottery, painted pitchers, tall vases with flowers, ceramic birds and farm animals, wooden ships, and tin angels displayed in the windows.

In villages on the Frisian Islands, homes with large front windows edge the sidewalks. As I pause to look closely at what’s on a window ledge, I need only lift my gaze for a look straight through three rooms. Beyond the sofa area, a wood dining table with chairs and a small kitchen in the back complete the first floor.

Often I saw all the way through the back window into a yard with a garden or a clothesline full of floating clothes.

Curious as I was, I didn’t want to gawk. I kept my glances brief. Several times I surveyed the insides of these homes and missed noticing the people in the front room. They were more cordial than you or I might be to a stranger staring in their front window.

The father reading a story to a child on the sofa raised his head, met my eyes and smiled. The woman knitting in her corner chair gave me a pleasing nod.

Day after day I learned about people in places pronounced confidently and with staccato –Enkhuizen, Hoogkarspel, Oosterblokker, Wervershoof. They like order, tidiness, and enjoy a muted palette. They love flowers with large colorful blooms, Hollyhocks and Hydrangeas.

The Dutch are very polite. Because bikes are a primary means of transportation, bike paths meld into walkways and roads differentiated only by the color of the bricks. Many, many times a bike rider’s melodic, gentle bike bell advised me I was not on a foot path as I thought, but in the middle of the bike path.

amsterdam 030

In villages everywhere I looked on window ledges, peered in homes, observed the young and old ride bikes, kite surf, maneuver boats and ships, and walk their dogs. I wondered about these people and their lives – who they were, their hopes, their dreams.

What were their stories? How did the things on the window ledges connect to them?

My window sills are bare and yours may be too. Still, we have stories. Everyone has stories.

Life is a narrative of stories. Unique stories, linked over time.

In our lives there are places where a story is about to stop before a new one has begun. That can be a confusing time.

When it’s time for a change in life – as a turning point begins and the future is unclear-that’s when you need a story the most.

Transitions without a story are hell to navigate. Continue reading

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Lost in Transition? Try the ‘Tough Cookie 100-Day Plan for Getting Unstuck’ (Over 30 Ideas)

Time keeps on telling me who to love, where to go. Time keeps on pushing me further on down the road. -- Lyrics from "Time" by Josh Rouse
Time keeps on telling me who to love, where to go. Time keeps on pushing me further on down the road. — Lyrics from “Time” by Josh Rouse

There are only two types of people in the world: people who do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it, and people who don’t do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it.

I am the first type. I do what I say I am going to do. Unless, of course, I’m stuck. I hate getting stuck.

All of us, despite best intentions or track records of follow through, often find we’re lost, confused, undecided, doubtful and ambiguous. We’re frozen in place in the larger context of life, even as we manage to look busy and ooze a pretend-kind of happy.

When it comes to inventing life – a new or continued career, different view out the window, ways to make money, different people to hang with, better focused choices, more engaged productivity – the whole darn thing is daunting.

We think about how we might change. We think how life could be even better. We think we should start thinking about our last third of life.

Time passes and we drift around in our thoughts.

It’s not you that’s the problem. It’s the process. Continue reading

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Stuck? Confused? Can’t Find Your Late-in-Life Groove? You Need a ‘Tough Cookie’ Voice.

There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you.                 -Carol Matthau
There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you.
-Carol Matthau

Getting stuck in a life transition isn’t fun. Even smack in the middle of a lull when we feel something’s bound to come along to move us forward (we’re not sure what) is enough to make us think we missed a step we should have known about.

The situation prompts us to ask, “How did this happen to me?”

In the last two months I met three people baffled at their current lot in life who did want to talk (quietly) about being lost and stumped. They also disclosed how surprised they are to find themselves stupefied by the future.

With long and successful careers, each established firm future financial footing and chose traditional retirement in January of this year. If you think they were euphoric leaving the rat race behind to fill their Google calendars with what they wanted to do, you’d be right.

They were excited and exhilarated. But it didn’t last long. Their forays into freedom and wellbeing had a shelf life less than those onions you keep in a bin in your garage.

  • As a district manager of sales at Sears for over twenty years, Sara, 60, left in January when new management was at odds with her values. “It was time to go,” she said. By mid-March she’d done everything she ever wanted with a block of free time – clean out the garage, swim off Maui, paint the guest room, and visit old friends. “Now what am I supposed to do?” she asked. Friends tell her it’s time to volunteer but that doesn’t excite her at all. “I’m way off course, no idea what’s next and to be honest, a little dazed.”
  • John, 57, ended his 22 years as a school principal with a celebration. “I’m very pleased with my decision to retire,” he told me. “My heart just wasn’t in it anymore.” John said he was very restless after six months of not working and is concerned that his time ahead isn’t filled with more meaning. “I guess I’m shocked that I’d still like to work at something.” John also thinks about moving from Florida to Arizona. “I always dreamed of living in the desert.”
  • Penny, 59, left her position a small accounting firm in January then found the bliss of not working wore off in a mere 60 days. Her husband has no plans to retire. “He comes home from work full of things to talk about,” she said. Penny does yoga, goes to the cleaners and unloads the dishwasher. “It all makes a life that’s mighty uninteresting,” she whispered.

These spontaneous conversations with each individual at different social gatherings were clandestine in nature. Why? Because who wants to shout out, “Hey, come on over and hear me discuss how adrift, bewildered and stumped I am about what to do with my life.” Continue reading

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The #1 Myth of Midlife Change: How It Holds You Back and Ways to Bust It Up

IMG_3403“Roll up your sleeves – midlife change is your best and last chance to become the real you.”

Thus begins the article, “The Existential Necessity of Midlife Change,” in the Harvard Business Review OnPoint, Your Next Move, Summer 2015.

I was puzzled momentarily. The term “real you” is odd, isn’t it?

Who are you now if you’re not the real you?

Here’s the answer: You are the “everyday” you.

Most of us have two selves – the everyday self which gets all mixed up in living a life and your true self (also known as the “real you.”)

I read a description of the ‘true self’ as a beach ball submerged beneath the water.

  Because your true self is a like a beach ball pushed deep under the water—you only need to take your hands off of it, and it will explode to the surface. 

 Oh baloney. Most people are not holding their beach ball down.

They can’t find their beach ball.

Continue reading

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Productive Longevity, Reconstuct Retirement, Self-Management | Leave a comment