Monday, April 30, 2018

Application for Retirement

I had a couple minutes to spare before speaking to a group of retiring teachers. I used this time to glance at the informational pamphlets available to the participants: Preparing for retirement, Working in retirement, and Understanding Social Security, to name a few.  Just before walking to the podium, a handout grabbed my attention: Application for Retirement.

I thought the heading sounded like an application for employment. We’re all familiar with these forms, having completed a few or more over the past 25-40 years. Until now, I bet no one at the seminar had filled out an application for retirement. It’s not something we do every five years.

Intrigued by this idea, I decided to veer from my usual speaking outline. I asked the audience, “Who picked up the Application for Retirement form?” Hands around the room waved wildly with excitement. Then I asked, “What if an application for retirement required the same type of information that is found in an application for employment?” 
  • What is your retirement objective?
  • Describe your education, skills, knowledge and experience. In what ways do these make you a good candidate for retirement?
  • What are your strengths? How will these benefit you in retirement?
  • What are your weaknesses? How will you address these weaknesses?
  • If I were a retirement employer, why would I choose your application?

After considering these questions, I asked, “Now who thinks they’re a good candidate for retirement?” Very few hands lifted.

An application for retirement requires more than documenting years of service, naming a beneficiary, and identifying a bank account for the direct deposit of a pension check (if you’re one of the fortunate people to receive a pension!) Just as you developed skills and knowledge to succeed in the workplace, you need to do the same for retirement.

Begin by creating a plan for how you want to live in retirement. This includes developing roles apart from your work identity, investing in new hobbies and interests, expanding your social network, and embracing opportunities to learn and grow. Identity your core values, incorporating these into your life design. Develop a new relationship with time, realizing that busyness does not equate with significance. Know what matters to you, then do something that matters. 

If you prepare for retirement in the same way you prepare for employment, you’ll be a much better candidate for this new role.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Irons in the Fire

When I speak with people who are preparing for retirement, I encourage them to get involved in just a few things, and then become deeply absorbed. Author and researcher Morton Hansen advises, “Do less, then obsess.” The rewards we miss from work, such as a sense of accomplishment, team camaraderie, belonging, and doing something that matters, comes when we dig deep and invest our time, effort and skills.

This is all good, sound advice. But there’s more. Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, authors of The Start Up of You, advise, “It's unwise, no matter your stage of life, to try to pinpoint a single dream around which your existence revolves.”

So while I suggest getting deeply involved in just a few areas, I also want you to always have several possibilities available. I call this having “irons in the fire”—a phrase that originated from when a blacksmith would efficiently work on several pieces, returning each to the fire after the metal was too cool to shape, then picking up another hot iron to mold.

So which is it—deeply involved in a few areas or broadly seeking several possibilities? It’s both.

When it comes to volunteer opportunities, it’s best to become deeply involved with just a few organizations. Totally embrace your role and reap the benefits of full engagement.

And when it comes to your goals and dreams, I recommend having several possibilities on the line. Good things take time. If we need something to happen soon, we might be convinced that it’s time to give up—to decide it’s a failure. By having several irons in the fire, we can enjoy involvement in more than one area while another interest or aspiration heats up.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.