Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Make Something Happen

When I start a new journal I think of it as looking into a crystal ball with stories and experiences to be revealed in the coming weeks and months ahead. While the first page is full of anticipation, the last page is a time for reflection, looking back over the journey with the crystal ball in full focus.

I love the sense of accomplishment and growth that takes place between the front cover and the back cover of my journals. And when I pick up my next journal, I get to do it all over again.

I recently finished a journal, and to my dismay, I admit that the entry I wrote on the first page is just as applicable for the last page. In other words, I didn't experience the growth or sense of accomplishment that I set out to do from page one.

Not that I didn't do some cool stuff such as travel to Ireland, enjoy Thanksgiving at the ocean with my family, and double my number of speaking gigs. Still, I feel like I am basically in the same place as when I started the journal. Over the past 7 months, instead of being on a journey, maybe I've been on a treadmill, putting forth energy and going nowhere. Running in place.

Perhaps if you're totally honest with me (and yourself), you can relate to my experience. I know from speaking with people who are retired from their professional careers that navigating this next stage of life is challenging. Without a boss breathing down our backs, no unrealistic deadlines to meet, or next rungs on the career ladder to climb, it's up to us to make something happen. We have to accept responsibility for our own growth and development, otherwise we end up running in place and going nowhere.

Yesterday I decided that my remedy to "running in place" is to commit each day to "making something happen." I took the advice of Seth Godin, the business and marketing guru who advocates:
"Make something happen today, before you go home, before the end of the week. Launch that idea, post that post, run that ad, call that customer. Go to the edge; that edge you've been holding back from... and do it today. Without waiting for the committee or your boss or the market. Just go."

In response to Godin's advice, I emailed a proposal for a psychology journal submission. I reached out to a fellow career counselor, suggesting we collaborate on a project. I also joined the YMCA and showed up at 6:00 a.m. for the spinning class.

You may think that all this activity will settle down, kind of like the way New Year's resolutions dissolve before the snow melts. I like to believe that by doing something each day, as small as it might be, I will keep the momentum.

Finally, I realize that I need to cut myself some slack. Although the first and last entry in my journal suggests that I've been running in place, I know that I've put forth energy to make something happen over the past 7 months. I've reached out to people. I've suggested big ideas and I've taken risks. In response to this, I choose to believe that:
Something wonderful is happening, even if it's not evident today.

Copyright 2015 Patrice Jenkins All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 6, 2015

On the Same Page...or Not

I haven't written much about relationships in retirement, but now that my husband sold his business and he's nearly fully retired, the topic comes up on a regular basis.

Fortunately, I'm familiar with the research on how retirement affects relationships. I know that the best scenario is when a couple retires at the same time and they go thru the transition together. I know that retirement (and more time together) magnifies the state of the relationship. Healthy relationships get better, and well, a poor relationship gets worse.
I'm learning that couples are frequently in different places mentally and emotionally when they retire. Often times they're not on the same page when it comes to how they want to exercise their brand-new freedom. It's common for one person to have more of a "play mindset" while the other leans toward a "productive mindset." In other words, you may enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee while reading the newspaper, while your partner is motivated to feed the hungry or start a new business. 

I've experienced this division personally. For instance, one weekday morning my husband said, "I'm going to visit Eleanor Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park, NY. Do you want to come?" Now, I'd love to see Eleanor's home, or anyone's home for that matter, but this activity felt "too retired" to me. I'm thinking that I have too much going on in my life to drive to a tourist site on a Wednesday afternoon. That's something old retired people do. Honestly, I don't have too much going on in my life, but I like to believe that I do.

I didn't join my husband for the house tour but I did use this incident to start a dialog about our different expectations of retirement. (You don't need a retirement expert to tell you that open communication is vital to a healthy relationship.) We took time to listen to each other and express our different needs in retirement. We explored ways for Dave to enjoy a sense of play while I continue to meet my need for productivity.

As I write this post, we're sitting at a Starbucks. I'm "working" and Dave's reading the Albany Times Union. We're not even sitting together, although once in a while we make eyes across the room. Maybe that sounds weird to you, which is okay. Each relationship is unique. By understanding your needs and that of your partner, you'll design ways to create your retirement story, even when you're not on the same page.

Copyright 2015 Patrice Jenkins All Rights Reserved