Friday, September 14, 2018

Turning 60

Ten years ago I said, “When I’m 60 I will stop chemically coloring my hair and let it go naturally gray.” This week I turned 60. Now that the day is here, I’ve decided to hold out for another decade. Why not? 

Nothing is different between my last day of being 59 and the first day at 60, except for being one day older. While this is true, without much thought, it’s easy to let one year flow into the next. Before I know it, I’ll look back and ask, “Where did the time go?”

So that this doesn’t happen, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath, in their book The Power of Moments, encourage us to use naturally defining moments to “recognize where the prose of life needs punctuation.” By pronouncing 60 a defining moment, I’m bringing shape to time. (Click here to read about a Midlife Whoa!)

With this mindset, the past few months I’ve asked, “What do I want for my 60-year-old self?” I’ve considered my level of life satisfaction in several domains, including relationships, health and wellness, personal and spiritual growth, physical environment, and fun and recreation. I’m asking, “Are there mistakes I’m making now that will keep me from being who I want to be ten years from now?”

The Heath authors write, “If we recognize how important these natural defining moments are, we can shape them—make them more memorable and meaningful.” That is my goal—to intentionally create a defining decade. Maybe then I’ll be ready to “go gray” at 70.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Build Yourself a Great Story

If a graduation mindset is the new retirement, and a commencement message the source of inspiration, then let’s consider the advice Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos shared with graduating Princeton students:

“When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.” 

Let’s change Bezos’ message to: “When you are (current age)…” and then do what he suggests. Begin with reflecting on your life.

Next, write the most personal version of your life. This isn’t a version for Facebook or Instagram, where we tend to project a perfect life. It’s not your Christmas card annual letter. This version of your life is for your eyes only. It’s the real deal.

Now consider these questions:

Is the most compact and meaningful version a reflection of the choices I’ve made? List these choices.

What choices am I most proud of? What choices made a positive difference in my life?

Have I lived my life intentionally, or have I let life drift along, come as it may? When I’m 80 years old will I be happy with this story?

Are there choices I want to make now that will change the course of my story?
List these choices, and then write a specific plan to put these into action.

In the book When to Jump, contributing writer Maia Josebachvili reminds us to be open to edits in our life story. “The most meaningful outcomes happen after your first plans change….We’re only so creative and so imaginative—how can we possibly know what exciting choices we’ll have in front of us in three years? Seven years? New experiences open up your eyes to what the possibilities are.”

In other words, our lives will be more interesting as we intentionally make meaningful choices. Keep writing yourself a great story!

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

If the Retirement You Have Isn't the Life You Want

I find some of my best lessons for retirement come from business and career books. This is the reason I was drawn to Mike Lewis’ book: When to Jump—If the Job You Have Isn’t the Life You Want

The title made me think, “What do you do if the retirement you have isn’t the life you want?” I wanted to learn more.

Lewis writes about his decision to leave a corporate career to pursue the professional squash circuit—a ball and racket sport that’s played in a four-walled court. He left what was certain and financially lucrative to go after what was calling him. It wasn’t easy, but he knew he had to do it.

Based on society’s definition of success, Lewis should have loved his life—it was everything he had worked to achieve. Get good grades. Go to a highly selective college. Get a great internship and be offered a permanent position upon graduation. His parents were happy. He was supposed to be happy. It was what I call a “looks good, feels bad” job for Mike. Maybe for someone else it would be a “looks good, feels good” job. That’s the person who should be doing it.

I was drawn to this book because I believe the retirement lifestyle can also be a “looks good, feels bad” place. You prepare financially for retirement so that you can enjoy this next stage of life without work. But once you get here, you may find that it’s not enough. Something isn’t right.

Lewis writes about the “little voice.” He says, “It feels awkward when a little voice talks to you, a voice you’re scared to listen to. It feels even more awkward when that voice won’t go away.” Eventually Lewis had to respond.

Not that it was easy. And if you have a little voice that is reminding you of a dream or goal you had for your life, doing something about that voice won’t be easy for you either. Lewis said, “I had the job and lifestyle I had thought I wanted, yet I secretly held out hope—for a knock on the door, for someone to enter my tiny office, walk up to my desk, and give me permission to leave: 'Mike, it’s July 1, time to chase your dream, remember?' ”

Like Mike, you may be waiting for a knock on the door, permission to go after your dream. If the voice is speaking to you, and it won’t go away, now is the time to start doing what you really want to be doing.

Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos delivered this advice to graduating Princeton students, “When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”

Although this message was directed to 20-something-year-old graduates, Bezos asked them to think about when they’re 80 years old. Most of us are closer to 80 than 20-something. Consider this message your knock on the door.  It might be time to jump.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Graduation Mindset

For the past six years I’ve been speaking to audiences of retiring educators. The morning sessions focus on financial preparation and legal information. Then lunch. Then me. When I take the stage, I make reference to the earlier topics, and then I say, “One thing I believe nobody has told you today is that most of you aren’t retiring.”

The room with 60 or 70 people is suddenly silent. If I’m reading their body language correctly, I imagine they’re thinking I know something about their pension that they don’t know—that the market crashed or the contract changed.

I don’t want to keep my audience in this state of anxiety, so I quickly add, “The reason most of you aren’t retiring is because this is how Webster defines retirement: discharged, aged, old, pensioned off, give up work, step down, and be put out to pasture. That doesn’t sound like me and I don’t think it describes most of you.” The group is quick to agree.

Instead of retiring, I suggest they are “graduating.” Remember back to your graduation day. Were you filled with an overwhelming sense of excitement and hope? Did you believe a world of opportunity was available to you? Life was wide-open for the making? Graduation is the new retirement. 

Just as a formal education didn’t prepare you for everything you needed to know in your career, the work you’ve been doing for 30-40 years hasn’t prepared you for this next stage of life. There’s going to be a lot of “on the job training.”

Just as you may have changed careers over the past couple decades, you’re also free to change up what you do with your next graduation.

With a graduation mindset, approach your retirement with a sense of hope, anticipation and eagerness to make the most of this next stage of life. Trust that a great beginning follows an ending.

And now for my own graduation motivation, consider Mark Twain’s advice:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Congratulations on your graduation!

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Full of Yourself

Lady was full of herself, likes to be on stage.”

How would you respond if you received this feedback after speaking to a group of retiring educators?

Nobody likes to receive negative feedback. Even when it’s a very small, insignificant percentage of the whole, we tend to dwell on the negative. In fact, research suggests our memory of negative emotions and experiences is four times stronger than our ability to remember positive emotions and events. This is probably why I forgot about the glowing comments and kept thinking about being “full of herself.”

That is until I thought more about what it means to be full of myself. I understand the comment was not meant in a positive way, but when it comes to helping people prepare for the non-financial side of retirement, this lady is “full of herself." My understanding and knowledge of what contributes to thriving in retirement has helped hundreds of people navigate this next stage of life. And so I’m on stage. And I want other people to find their stage in retirement too.

Where are you feeling full of yourself and where is this going to show up in your retirement years? What strengths do you love sharing with the world? What “stage” do you want to be on?

What are you going to do about the negative people who don’t want you to have your stage? The ones who say, “Who do you think you are?” Will you let them keep you from doing what you love to do? I hope not. Instead, ask yourself, “Who do I think I am?” and then share this with the world.

Find your stage. Be full of yourself.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.