Friday, May 15, 2015

10 Tips to Creating Meaningful Work in Retirement

1.    Make a list of the benefits you have experienced from work. When you know what work has done for you, then you know what you need to have in retirement.  For example, work provides you with a sense of belonging, a purpose, an opportunity to use your skills and abilities, and a place to receive recognition and admiration. As you consider meaningful work in retirement, how will you meet these needs?

2.     Don't think of work as WORK.  Our culture has conditioned us to think that work is something we should want to get out of.  Even though studies indicate we are happier when we are working as compared to leisure time, most people say they prefer leisure more so than work. You don't need to apologize for working in retirement; in fact, work may be the best prescription for a happy retirement.

3.   A paycheck doesn't define the value of work. Volunteer opportunities are just as valuable (or more valuable in some cases) than paid work. It may be difficult to overcome the belief that your earnings determine the value of your contribution.  For years the value of our contributions have been recognized through promotions and raises. In retirement, you will be defining the value of your work.  Most people find greater satisfaction from volunteering for work that is meaningful than being paid to do something that lacks purpose.

4.     Revisit some "forks in the road."  It is never too late to become the person you might have been, or at least to feel like that person.  Think back to dreams and goals you had earlier in life but for some reason life took you down a different path.  Retirement is the perfect time to re-invent yourself through a second career. 

5.     Retirement is the perfect time to pursue your "life’s work."  Is there a calling that you feel compelled to do?  The gift of retirement is you don't have to make a living wage doing what you love.  If your nest egg is secure, then use this time in life to make your calling your life's work.

6.    Start preparing now for what you want to do in retirement.  The first steps to creating anything new often take longer than expected.  If you want to start a new business, then consider what you can begin doing right now. If you want to do something completely different from your career, then enroll in a class or degree program.  You can take one class at a time and still arrive at your goal.  There is no rush in retirement.

7.  Make your retirement work challenging.  Life without challenges soon becomes boring.  Work in retirement can provide you with opportunities to engage your skills through challenging projects.  The benefit is lasting satisfaction comes from meeting these challenges.  Work can prevent retirement from becoming too easy. You need some hard days to make the easy days sweeter.

8.     Create a two-year plan for your retirement work.  You don't have to figure out what to do with the next 25 years of your life.  Instead, think in two-year intervals. What would you like to do for the next two years? 

9.     Bring purpose to your hobbies. Hobbies without a purpose can leave you feeling like you're just keeping busy.  By adding purpose, you can transform a hobby into meaningful retirement work. 

10.   Last, always have something that you call "work" in your life and have a business card to prove it.

Copyright 2015 Patrice Jenkins All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 8, 2015

Am I Losing My Drive?

As new retirees, I believe we have more in common with people in the twenty-something age group than any other age bracket. We can learn from their questions, books, websites, and other sources that target a stage of life when one is trying to find direction, change the world, and create a life that's more than a resume.

This belief proved true the other day when my 25-year old son told me about a friend who is concerned that she's losing her drive. The conversation went like this:

Theresa asked Steven if he thought she was losing her drive since she doesn't feel motivated to put energy into work-related stuff. Theresa has always been a high-achiever, but now she's feeling like she doesn't have the ambition that she had in the past. Steven explained that now is the first time in their lives when the next goal/step is not obvious. When they were in college there was always the next class, project, semester, etc. Now that they're in "real" jobs, there's not a beginning and an end. They have a long road ahead, but to where? And for what?

Steven and I talked about the importance of forming your own goals at this stage of life. You have to create what you're aiming for. It is the goal/deadline that generates the drive. We don't believe that Theresa has lost her drive—she just needs to decide what is the next thing that she's excited about pursuing. Once she's on this path, her get-up-and-go will return.

This discussion could have easily (or more easily) taken place between two retirees. There are times when I question if I have lost my drive—especially when I look back to all the things I accomplished in my life when I was much busier than I am now. Compared to those days, I feel like I don't have the fire, motivation and ambition that I once had. I have reason to question, "Am I losing my drive?"

I found the answer to this question when I offered to host the family of a dear friend who had recently died. Her family was from out of town and they were coming to empty her house. Instead of returning at the end of the day to a motel, I invited them to spend the week with my husband and me.  In preparation of their visit, I developed a two-page "punch" list and worked tirelessly all week to prepare the house for their visit. I also had incredible drive to be hospitable the entire week while they were here.

I learned that I hadn’t lost my drive—it just needed a place to go. I needed a purpose.

Daniel Pink, author of Drive, encourages us to develop a "purpose-motive". Profit-motive may have provided a source of energy while we were working. Now a purpose motive can be an equally powerful source of energy.

If you want to reignite your drive and motivation, then create a greater sense of purpose. Set goals and know what you're aiming to achieve. Once you do this, your drive will return. Keep in mind—it needs a place to go.

"Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement."  -W. Clement Stone

Copyright 2015 Patrice Jenkins All Rights Reserved