Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lessons from Work

Seth Godin is the author of 15 international best selling books that focus primarily on changing the way people think about marketing and work. I recently read his book, The Icarus Deception. As I read, I keep thinking that Seth’s message is also applicable to retirees. I’ve identified 5 points that may change the way you think about retirement.

1.    “It’s your turn.”

Seth makes the point that you are not your career. I think he’s primarily speaking to people who are still slaving away in jobs/careers and suggesting another way of working and thinking. But, this message is also applicable to retirees. Now that we don’t have to go into work everyday, we can “take our turn” and not have to worry if it is going to pay the bills or please the boss.

2.    “We’ve been so thoroughly brainwashed and intimidated and socialized that we stay huddled together, waiting for instructions, when we have the first, best, and once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something extraordinary instead.”

As Seth states, we have been socialized to wait for instructions—to have someone tell us what to do next. New retirees often feel uncomfortable with their newfound freedom and as a result they continue to wait for instructions. No instructions are coming. This is your opportunity to write your own instructions.

3.    “If others are busy deciding which metrics ought to matter to you, you have given up something precious indeed.”

Retirement is the time to choose your own metrics. You are the boss. You’re no longer confined or defined by other people’s standards. You write the rules.

4.    “If we are going to say no, we need to know what a yes looks like.”

Be aware of how often you are saying no to opportunities, invitations, and new possibilities. I have a friend that I frequently invite to join me on new adventures. I invite her because I know she would be fun to have along. However, I can almost be assured that she will have a reason to decline my invitation. It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy my company. I’m quite sure of this. Instead, it has become easier to say no than yes.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when being able to say no is a good thing. Otherwise you’ll find yourself being stretched in too many directions doing things that you don’t really care about. But, if you are saying no, then ask yourself, “What does yes look like?”

I learned this lesson a couple years ago when I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to the Philippines with PEER Servants—a Christian microfinance organization. When the time came to commit, I almost said no. No is easy. No takes the pressure off of having to do anything more. But if the Philippines is a “no” then what is a “yes”? The purpose of this trip was perfectly suited to my talents—to research and write a case study on best practices of microfinance loan officers. I turned this opportunity into a yes. By doing so, it will be easier to stretch my comfort zone for what the next “yes” looks like.

5.    “Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out permission, authority, and safety that come from a publisher or a talk-show host or even a blogger who says, ‘I pick you.’  No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.”

In my retirement workshops, attendees are often interested in how I wrote and published a book. Mostly, they want to know how I got a publisher. I didn’t. I didn’t even try. Why wait for someone to “pick me” when I can pick myself. After spending two years writing my book, I had a published copy in my hands in less than a week. You can too.

Of course I’m still trying to “get picked” by some big names. I’ve sent my book to the TODAY Show and over the years I’ve sent many ideas to Oprah. But, I haven’t put my life on hold waiting to be picked. If I had, I would still be waiting.

Stop waiting. Whatever it is that you want to do, pick yourself and get to work.

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