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

Posted in Productive Longevity, Productivity, Self-Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Self-Management | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Craft a Post50 Lifestyle, Productive Longevity, Productivity, Self-Management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Productive Longevity, Productivity, Reconstuct Retirement, Self-Management, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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

Crossing Muddy Waters: Feeling Deeply Through Loss

I am crossing muddy waters. Now the water’s wide and deep and brown. - Crossing Muddy Waters by John Hiatt
I am crossing muddy waters. Now the water’s wide and deep and brown.
– Crossing Muddy Waters by John Hiatt

What awaits all of us is loss. This is a grown-up truth.

Loss sneaks up on you. Suddenly it becomes harder to breathe.

Loss is large, small, often unexpected and unwanted. We all know individuals who face destroyed or derailed careers, tumultuous terminations of marriages, the negative biopsy report, cruel aftermaths of an unfortunate financial move or the plight of frail parents as they nosedive toward an end.

Loss can defeat us. Loss will bring you to your knees.

I am on mine.

 

Continue reading

Posted in Self-Management | Leave a comment

Five Things People Who Love Their Post50 Lives Don’t Do

 

"There’s a lot under the surface of life, everyone knows that." From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.
“There’s a lot under the surface of life, everyone knows that.” From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

One day you think: Oh, here is the rest of my life. It’s finally arrived.

The map of how you got here may be in front of you, but what to do now? No map for that.

Still we do figure it out.

Not all of us do it well. At least, not every time.

 I solved life after college graduation rather fine. But post-divorce invoked a shaky time that curled my toes and wreaked havoc on providing for my daughter in a fitting way. (My mom sent money.)

 What followed was a long stretch of eight years as a single working mother who layered up a strong sense of self and confidence. I carried that forward.

 The first year of my second marriage created an interesting juxtaposition. How much could (or would) I compromise but still be in charge of me and my life?

My eleven-year-old daughter and I decorated her bedroom with Marimekko sheets and matching wallpaper. But I kept a suitcase with a stash of cash for a quick get-away for us inside my new closet.

 Symbolic of questioning marriage survival, yes, but also a sign of my wobbly sureness. ‘Could I somehow have misjudged this man who seemed so solid in promise-keeping and honesty?’ I hadn’t.

But it was an uncertain year.

A pre-planned midlife crisis resulted in professional choices to season my skills and buoy my finances to a higher level than I dreamed possible. But when the economy stumbled, so did I. 

Time to reinvent? Oh please. I ran away.

Sailing away for six months was a grand and valuable adventure. I only came back because I ran out of money. And because my husband hadn’t signed up for a marriage where he pinpointed his wife’s whereabouts by latitude and longitude.

 In my late fifties, I wandered too long in and out of ideas that hovered over the transition into a third life.

No one should have to do that. 

The conclusion was that I care deeply that I do a good job in all endeavors – especially this one of living the last third of life. I made a map.

Slipping into new shoes, I feel steady and rock-solid on this path. 

Just like other times.

I may not have known that the spots of figuring out what’s-next-for-my-life would be so prevalent, but I know it now.

Your story has different twists and turns.

And as much as each of us tries to swerve and miss the place of no map, we still end up here.

Over and over again. Continue reading

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