Friday, July 24, 2015

Mastering the Art of Retirement

A magazine advertisement for Lindt Chocolate® grabbed my attention. Printed in cursive lettering at the top of the page: Mastering the Art of Retirement.

Retirement and chocolate—two of my favorite subjects! However, upon closer review, I realized the title read "refinement" not “retirement”.  Making great chocolate is a refined art. 

While my desire for Swiss chocolate lingered, I began to mull over the idea that creating a meaningful retirement lifestyle is also an art that requires mastering. Consider this:

When we first retire most of us don't know how to live "retired." Until now we've been rewarded for mastering many of the skills that don't do us a lot of good in retirement, such as getting as much done as possible (or not possible) with limited time and conforming to structure and other people's expectations. To make retirement an art, we need to develop a new skill set that requires time, creativity, talent, and patience—all the essentials that an artist works with to master his or her art.

What goes into the art of retirement?

1.     Artists have a vision, an inspiration before creating their art. What is your vision for retirement? Where can you find inspiration?

2.     Artists invest in the materials needed to master their skills. What materials, activities, and pursuits do you need to craft a meaningful retirement?

3.     Artists experiment with new methods and materials. Where can you take risks and try something new?

4.     Artists are willing to be vulnerable—not everyone appreciates their work. Where can you be more open to possibilities, letting go of others' expectations and living a life that is true to you?

5.     Artists are continually mastering an art—appreciating the fact that great art cannot be mastered. The same is true for retirement. Creating a rewarding retirement lifestyle is always a work in progress. While you never fully arrive or achieve this goal, you create a rich life along the way.

Copyright 2015 Patrice Jenkins All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 3, 2015

I Participated.

On May 20, 2015, I was watching an interview between Charlie Rose from The Morning Show on CBS and actor George Clooney. The two men were discussing Clooney's involvement with humanitarian emergencies in Sudan, the vastness of need and challenges of sustainability. At the end of their discussion, I was taken back by Clooney's comment: "When you look back on your life and they say 'What did you do?' I want to be able to say, I participated."

I repeated the words out loud: I participated. I was drawn to this simple statement and I knew in that moment that these  two words were going to change the way I view my volunteer roles.

I think most people will say they want to make a difference in the world. Still, how many of us can honestly make that claim? Measuring the extent of our impact is not easy, and even when it is, we often come up short when comparing it to the vastness of needs around the world or in our own backyards.

However, when I view my involvements as participating, every little thing I do contributes to something that can make a difference. I'm not sitting on the sidelines only observing the needs that exist in my community and around the world. I'm in the game. I'm participating. Let me share an example.

One of my volunteer roles is with PEER Servants where I place college interns with indigenous microfinance organizations around the world. Am I making a difference in this role? I think so, but still, it's not easy to measure the impact. On the other hand, can I say that I'm participating in helping the materially poor in the world? Yes. I'm participating.

By participating, I don't feel the responsibility to make a huge impact or change the world on my own. Instead I can feel good about doing something, contributing, and giving of my time and talents.

Now I pose the question to you that Clooney answered in his interview. When you look back on your life and people ask, "What did you do?" how do you want to respond?

I want to be able to say: I participated.

Copyright 2015 Patrice Jenkins All Rights Reserved