Friday, October 13, 2017

Back at the Wheel

At art festivals you’ll find me intently observing a potter at the wheel. I’m mesmerized for hours as the artist works the clay, drawing it up and back down. Starting with nothing and ending up with a beautiful bowl that has her touch, her fingerprints, her distinct design.

My interest in watching other potters led me to believe that I’d like to learn how to make pottery. I thought I’d love to work with clay and create beautiful bowls. Even more than making pottery, I wanted to look beautiful while making pottery, like the pictures that often appear in magazines of an attractive woman at the wheel with lovely bowls and other pieces stacked on the shelves behind her. The lighting is perfect. The bowl is perfect. Her hair is perfect.

I thought if I could experience this, I could be passionate about making pottery, which is why I signed up for a 7-week pottery class. And then another 7-weeks. And after that, yes, another 7-week class. I didn’t keep signing up because I was feeling passionate about making pottery. In fact, when the instructor asked me if I loved making pottery, I said, “I want to love making pottery.” Until now, I was mostly frustrated and discouraged. I didn’t have much to show for my time and expense. So, after finishing up three 7-week classes, I decided that pottery is not my passion. 

When I speak to audiences about planning for retirement, people often say, “If I was passionate about something, then I’d know what to do in retirement.” People feel pressured to find a passion, and fast. The problem is, for most of us, passion doesn’t happen fast.  In fact, scientific research suggests passion can’t happen fast.

For some subjects, passion only surfaces after gaining a certain level of skill. Once we get further along on the learning curve, then we can experience a psychological state referred to as flow, where we are fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. That’s what I want—to be so absorbed in the process of making pottery that I lose track of time and all that’s going on around me. I want to emerge from the experience feeling refreshed and revitalized.

Other potters tell me, “It’s hard, until it’s easy.” Not much in-between time. I’m still at hard. But knowing that passion only comes after I gain more experience and skill encourages me to keep at it. To get back on the wheel—to give pottery a second chance to become a passion.

Retirement is a perfect time to pursue new interests. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the first time you try something, you’ll find your passion. Sometimes you only need to be passionate about the idea and keep showing up to the work. Then one day what was hard and frustrating may become rewarding and engaging. You may have found your passion.

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Changing Seats

Dave and I walked into an upscale, Brooklyn-type food establishment looking forward to celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary. The maître d welcomed us and then asked if we had a reservation. I assuredly said “yes” as my eyes scanned the room for a preferred table—hopefully something in a private corner with soft lighting. Yet, from where we were standing, I could see only one available space, the large communal table in the middle of the room—the type where several unrelated parties are seated together. Surely there was another place they had tucked away for us, after all, we had reservations and we were celebrating a 32-year commitment.

I was wrong. With all seriousness, the maître d proceeded to escort us to the middle of the room and graciously pulled out a chair for me to sit at the communal table. After he walked away, I looked around the room once more to see if another table had opened up. We weren’t in a hurry so if I saw a guest about to bite into a dessert or order coffee, I was willing to wait it out. No luck. It seemed that everyone was there to enjoy a leisurely evening of good food, drink, and friends.

As our table began to fill up with other dinner guests, I had an option—be agitated about not having the choice seat in the restaurant or embrace the communal table. I decided on the latter and I’m glad I did. The extra tension I felt from being outside of my comfort zone disrupted our customary dining out experience and brought new energy to our conversation.

By the time our entrees were served, I’d transported myself to a European brasserie, where communal seating is the norm. I imaged other dinner guests admiring our lively conversation, laughter, and obvious enjoyment of being together. After all, we were on display. Maybe some were wishing they could appear so comfortable and confident at the communal table.

Just two days later, I experienced another seating predicament. My husband and I arrived a few minutes late for church so we were ushered to the remaining available chairs to the left side of the room and three rows from the front. We always sit in a certain section, center back. My first thought was we’re supposed to be sitting over there. We have come to know the people in those couple rows. But on this day, we experienced church from the left, met new people, and still had time after the service to connect with our familiar friends.

Two seating changes in one week should have been enough to teach me the value of shaking up routines and stretching beyond comfort zones. But, on Monday morning when I walked into my local Starbucks to write for a couple of hours, I was still disoriented when overnight the small tables with 2 or 4 chairs were replaced with, you guessed it, a long center upholstered settee with seating on all sides. My favorite corner table, the one that always makes me feel like I have the room to myself, was gone.

This blog seems it’s simply about changes in seating, but it is much more than that. It’s sitting with changes. Retirement is all about change. So if we can’t adjust to something so small as feeling displaced in a restaurant, then how are we going to manage major changes such as feeling displaced in society?

Instead of avoiding change and disruption in our well-established patterns and routines, we need to seek it. This week I was reminded how challenging even the smallest change can be, and I was encouraged when I realized I can adjust, accept, and even embrace these changes.

Who knows? Maybe next time I’ll reserve a seat at the communal table.

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Creative Change

When I speak at pre-retirement seminars, one of the first topics I bring up is the definition of retirement. That’s because as Baby Boomers we’re very sensitive to being referred to as “retired.” Just ask someone, “Are you retired?” You’ll probably get a somewhat agitated, knee-jerk response, such as: I’m refreshing, repotting, reframing, or re-anything except re-tired.

This adverse reaction to being retired is why, within the first couple minutes of my presentation, I explain that I’m not going to talk about our parents’ retirement. I disclose that I think people should never retire. And that it’s up to us to redefine this next stage of life. But to do that, we need more than a clever comment. Instead, we need “creative change.”

According to author Jennifer Mueller, in her book Creative Change: Why We Resist It…How We Can Embrace It, creative change happens when we “move away from defining something to embrace a completely new and different way of defining something.” This is more than a new name for retirement. This is a new way of living.

Many aspects of our life will have to take on a new definition for us to experience creative change. For instance, our relationship with time changes dramatically. If it doesn’t, we end up frantically trying to fill every minute—we continue to function from a time scarcity mindset and the belief that busyness equates with significance. Instead, we need to  embrace the gift of time, realizing that some things are better done slowly. 

If you're questioning how you will use your extra time in retirement, one answer is to make everyday events into something greater. In other words, do the opposite of what’s expected by turning a “molehill into a mountain.” Studies on happiness suggest people receive lasting gratification when they make a situation more challenging, take pictures to remember the event and reminisce about it at a later date. This is the reverse of investing just enough time to get the job done.

To experience creative change we need to redefine the value we place on money. Until now, financial compensation played a big role in determining the value of our work. If something didn’t pay enough, most likely we didn’t do it. Now if we wait to be paid to do something we love, we might miss out on it all together. For example, if you love to write but are waiting to get started until you’ve signed a publishing contract, you could be waiting a long time. I can’t promise, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” I can assure you that if you do what you love, whether you’re paid or not, you’ll experience a more fulfilling retirement.

Freedom is another area that requires a shift in thinking if we’re to experience creative change. In some ways freedom is our new currency. We have to decide how to spend it and invest it. But there are two sides to this coin. As author Seth Godin says in his book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn, “Freedom is our problem and freedom is our opportunity.” I hope that you’ll put forth the effort to invest in opportunities with your newfound freedom.

Until we creatively change our definition and relationship with these parts of retirement—time, money, and freedom—we will only come up with a new pseudo definition of retirement. Not much will have changed except for our terminology. But if we embrace creative change, if we commit to a completely new and different way of defining retirement, our futures are full of possibilities. We may be retired, but this isn’t our parents’ retirement!

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Invitation to the "Dare to Soar Telesummit"

This Saturday, September 9th, I invite you to join me at the Dare to Soar Telesummit. My course, Retirement COMPASS: How We Can Find Our Way When Life Has Lost It’s Rhythm, is scheduled for 12:05pm (ET). Click here to learn more about the other speakers, free giveaways, and how to access the workshops.

The Telesummit is an action-packed day to celebrate eight life-changing new books and courses. Scroll through the 18 free workshops to find something that you find interesting. If something grabs your attention, pay attention. Follow your curiosity.

If after listening to these new authors you feel inspired to write your own book, you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about the Write/Speak program. Next year your name could be listed among the presenters. If that sounds crazy, then do just one thing. Participate in at least one workshop. Amazing things can happen when we take the first step.

I hope you’ll join my presentation at 12:05 (ET). I’d love to have you on the call! 

Phone: 1-712-775-7085. Access Code: 880212#

Life rewards action. Take that first step.

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.