Monday, March 30, 2020

Who's on the Line?


In my retirement seminars I lead participants through an exercise called, Who’s on the Line? 

Here are the instructions:

Imagine that your phone rings. You don’t recognize the number so you let it go to voice mail. Good idea. Most of the “nothing” callers don’t bother to leave a message. But, this one did, so you listen to the message. To your surprise the caller is someone you didn’t expect to hear from. It might be someone you don’t know. But this person knows something about you and your gifts, talents, experiences and interests. You’re being invited to be a part of something BIG. You’re surprised because you never anticipated an opportunity like this to come your way. This idea is kind of crazy, but also exciting…Who’s on the line?

I use this assignment to help people move past their safe plans for retirement and toward something that energizes and excites them. Most often the opportunity on the line feels too risky or out of reach, which is why we play it safe with our plans.

For the past five years I’ve known my response to “Who’s on the line?” The call is from a small group of smart women who have heard about my skills, interests, and experience. They’re inviting me to join their new business venture. I plan to say “yes.” I’m waiting for that call.

Author Seth Godin says, “The best way to be in the room where it happens is to be the person who called the meeting. Things rarely happen on their own. Everyone is waiting for you to organize the next thing.” So, this week I decided to be the person who makes the call. And, by being the person who makes the call, I get to choose what’s on the line.

I sent a text to a friend inviting her to be part of the business. Within minutes she responded, “Sure!!!” I sent an email to another woman inviting her to be on our team. She responded, “I’d love to.” By making the call, I got the call. I’m in the room where it happens!

Who’s on your line? Keep in mind that things rarely happen on their own. Make the call.

Copyright 2020. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Thursday Project


I love receiving unexpected emails from people who have read my book or enrolled in my online course, A Guide to Take the Weirdness Out of Retirement. They often give me something to think about, which is the case for a message I received from Clark.

Hi, Patrice. Just finished reading "What Will I Do All Day?". Thanks for a great book! It gave me lots to think about and consider that I hadn't before. After reading your book I know now that retirement is a process and that what I am doing now I will most likely continue to do in retirement….I like my job and can't seem to find the time to develop any non-work interests! Do you have any suggestions on how a person can "make time" for activities outside of work? Thanks, again for a great read!

Clark is referring to the chapters I wrote about work serving as one’s lifeline—an energy source—which is great! But when you consider cutting yourself off from this energy source, then what do you do? Where will you find something that is equally rewarding and engaging?

These questions and concerns are the reason I suggest developing interests outside of work while you’re still working. Without an answer to, “What will I do all day?” it’s more comfortable to keep working. But if you don’t address that question now, while working, you’ll never feel prepared to step over the line into retirement.

Clark agrees, but he doesn’t know how to do this. How does he make time for activities outside of work? He’s hoping I have some suggestions.

I do. It’s called a Thursday Project.

My question for Clark is: “While a lot of your time and mind space is consumed with your full-time position, can you find it within yourself to create?” When I say, “find it within yourself to create,” I’m referring to that thing you’re curious about, or like to think about, or imagine doing when you have more time in retirement. What you create should bring pleasure and enjoyment. You do it for you, because it’s what you like to think about.

When I spoke with a young man who is in the challenging stages of founding a start-up technology company, he described a side project he’s working on. I asked, “Do you like to think about this stuff?” He said, “I’m obsessed with it.” You might think this extra project is distracting him from the work that needs to be done in his “real job.” Actually, it’s the opposite. The distraction helps to clear his mind so that when we returns to work, he sees new solutions. He says a Thursday Project is a way to force yourself to take a metaphorical walk around the block. To clear your head and give you additional clarity.

Tim Harford, author of Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives, would agree that a new project provides a fresh context. “Instead of distracting us from other work, the variety grabs our attention.” Harford suggests, “While we’re paying attention to one project, we may be unconsciously processing another. If we turn to a totally different project, the unconscious mind can ‘chew over a problem’. Each project provides an escape from the others.”

Thursday Project is not exactly a “weekend hustle” because, well, it’s not on the weekend. It’s intentionally woven into the week in order to mesh work life with some other life you are curious about. Naturally, Thursday Projects can be extended into your weekend hustle, and that’s great, but they do not need to be. It’s lower risk in that it’s only a few hours a week and you can still have your weekends to do whatever. It’s also more contextualized because it happens during your “work week.”

It might seem that adding one more thing to your life will increase stress. After all, you’re already maxed out. So, if your idea for a Thursday Project feels stressful, it’s not by definition a Thursday Project. Instead, a Thursday Project can be a comforting outlet when you’re feeling over stressed. It can help from a sanity standpoint, and it can benefit you professionally.

When I helped a very busy business owner identify a possible Thursday Project, she said, “I feel like this is two hours each week that I give to myself. It’s invigorating to carve out time to create. It’s an opportunity to test the waters for something I might like doing in retirement.”

Play with the idea of a Thursday Project. When something pops into your mind, call it your Thursday Project for a while and see how it feels. Crazy ideas are some of the most interesting to work on. Make Thursday Project part of your vocabulary.

A Thursday Project is a gift to yourself. Instead of waiting until retirement to do something you enjoy or want to learn, start now and enjoy the benefits.

Copyright 2020. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Story I Was Made to Live


As I walked into the Doubletree Hotel in Binghamton, NY to speak to an audience of retiring educators, a woman in the lobby caught my eye. From my perspective, her smile and expression conveyed this message: “There’s our next speaker. It must be cool to be her.” Of course, I have no idea what she was thinking, but I know I felt great in my speaker role.

Most of my life I’ve had an unexplainable feeling that I’m supposed to be creating, speaking, and making a difference in my own unique way. I didn’t know how this would play out, but I knew I cared about people who stay in jobs long after they have the option to retire, not because they don’t want to leave but because they don’t know where to go.

And so, I responded to that little voice that said I had something more to give than remain in a college administrator role. I knew I had options. I just needed the courage to exercise those options. It was more comfortable to stay. But as researcher and author, Brene Brown says, “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not as the same time.” I chose courage.

Bob Goff, author of Love Does and Everybody Always, says, “With the urgency of a rock in your shoe, act on the ache you feel when you see someone else living out the story you always wanted—the story you were made to live.”

If I saw a professional woman walking into the hotel as our next speaker, I know I would want to be her. Sometimes this is how we figure out what we want to do in retirement. We pay attention to what grabs our attention. If you see someone living out the story you believe you were made to live, then choose courage and go after that life.

Copyright 2020. Patrice Jenkins. All rights reserved.