Monday, April 25, 2016

Disrupt Yourself

As an organizational psychologist, I gain insight from authors writing about best business and management practices more so than books describing the best vacation and retirement communities. Instead of polarizing career and retirement at opposite ends of the spectrum, I view retirement as an extension of my life's work.

That’s why I’ve decided to take one book each month and apply 5 business practices to thriving in retirement.

This month’s featured book is, Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson.

"When the status quo doesn't seem all that bad, jumping often seems needlessly risky."

If life is pretty good for you, it can take more courage to do something different, to disrupt your usual patterns and practices when you are comfortable. I'm warning you that not jumping is more risky. When people are asked what is their biggest regret, the word "not" shows up most often—chances not taken; dreams not  pursued. (Click here  to learn about an experiment in Brooklyn, NY where people were asked to write their biggest regret on a publically displayed chalkboard.)

"Constraints can be the perfect remedy if you are having a difficult time focusing or
are unable to clarify how you want to disrupt yourself."

Adding constraints is an interesting idea when it comes to retirement. Essentially we have almost no constraints. We can do anything—which I'm told, often leads to doing nothing. By creating some constraints, narrowing our focus, we are more creative and motivated to take action.

"With personal disruption, the question you ask is: To achieve my baseline level of happiness, what do I need to accomplish and what am I willing to give up in order to make this happen?"

As you bring focus and intention to your personal disruption, what is it that you want to accomplish? What would you like to erase from your "biggest regret list?" What would you like to check off your "bucket list?" Don't expect this path to be easy—but it is worth it! Commit to staying on the path—your life depends on it!

"Businesses and individuals that are disrupting themselves frequently find themselves with very little, if any, company….If it's scary and lonely, does it mean you shouldn't disrupt? It may just mean you are on the right track. In fact, if you don't disrupt when you feel you are called to do so, you'll die inside just a little."

First I encourage you to do something different—to challenge the status quo, even when you're feeling quite content. Now I'm saying that this path is going to be lonely. You're probably ready to give up on me by now—but hang on. According to Johnson, "You can always convince yourself that staying put is the right thing. But there really is no such thing as standing still."  For example, when I told friends that my husband and I were renting an apartment in a city a little over an hour from our home, many of them didn't get it. That's when I knew I was on the right track. Courageous acts often don't make sense to other people.

"If you do something disruptive today, then the probability that you can disrupt tomorrow increases. Momentum creates momentum."

Disruption is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Your confidence increases; the courage needed to take the next step comes more easily. Think back to something you did for the first time, something that took a lot of courage—maybe initiating a difficult conversation or registering for your first 10K race. Did the first time make the second time easier? That's how disruption works. With momentum, living bravely becomes a way of life.

Copyright 2016 Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Relocating in Retirement

Bert and Linda (not their real names) approached the podium as I was preparing to speak to a group of retiring teachers. Bert smiled as he said, "We have a question for the expert." Linda explained, "We're planning to move closer to our two daughters and their families after retiring. What advice do you have for making this move?"

Another couple shared their quandary about moving to Florida for the warm climate or being close to their first grandchild in Wisconsin. Obviously, relocation is on the mind of many Baby Boomers as they make plans for retirement.

I wish I had an easy answer for my attentive audience—"Five Steps to Live Happily Ever After." Unfortunately, I don't. And I'm skeptical of other experts who have a quick-fix solution to complex decisions. Instead, when it comes to choices about relocation, consider the advice of authors Nelson and Bolles in their book, What Color is Your Parachute for Retirement?

Life planning comes first, residence planning second.

In other words, "move toward what you value"—literally.

As you envision your future life, consider your core values and mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and material needs and wants. I recommend drawing a chart listing each of these areas and then fill it in with what you know about yourself and your plans for the future.

If you have a "bucket list" of hopes and dreams, incorporate this into your life planning. List purposeful activities and commitments that will bring pleasure, engagement and meaning to your life. Also consider your strengths and talents and the outlets available for exploring these further in retirement.

Once you have a vision of how you want to live in retirement, Bolles and Nelson suggest experimenting with where you want to live. "The only way to really know whether a location has a sense of place for you is to become an explorer; you need to be there and experience it."

For the past 8 months my husband and I have been explorers; we're renting a downtown apartment in a vibrant small city. This living arrangement is a considerable contrast to our small-town living where "everyone knows your name." By having an explorer mindset, we're learning more about what matters to us, which will inform our decision about relocation.

Even if relocation is not on your mind, you're not exempt from life planning. To live intentionally, you need to make mindful choices. Be an explorer in your own community. Then decide to live where you are by choice, not default.

Copyright 2016 Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.