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Archive for September, 2010

Coping with Shorter Days and Bad Weather

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

You don’t have to go south for the winter to thrive. A lot of what it takes is a matter of what you are telling yourself and what you do with your time.

It’s that time of year again.  The days are getting short enough that it’s dark when you have dinner.   You need to put on a jacket–or take an umbrella–when you leave the house.  It’s just a matter of weeks and the gloom of winter will be all around us for anyone living in the Northern Hemisphere.

One of the sweetest pieces of being able to leave the workforce and “retire” is that you don’t have to stay where you are when the weather gets bad.  But do you really need to run away?  A lot of what makes winter unbearable is in your strategy rather than the weather report.   So before you start packing the shorts and swimsuit for a stay at an RV park in Palm Springs, give your attitude a good tune-up:

Are you seeing yourself as a”victim” of your climate? You cast yourself as an aggrieved party when you operate from the idea that “This is wrong; I shouldn’t have to put up with this.”   Come on.  You put up with a lot worse weather than this over the years and have great stories to tell because of it.  Bad weather is an inconvenience, yes.  But a crime?  Nah.

What are you doing with your time?   Much of what we blame on the weather we may as well blame on ourselves.  If you plan “fair weather” activities for “foul weather’ times of the year, you’re asking for it.  Identify projects, activities, new learning experiences that work WITH the weather instead of in spite of it.  If you are a creative, this is the time of year to work on something especially bright.  If you need to get the photo files organized and culled, this is the time of year to do it.  You get a job that’s been on your mind done, but you also get to re-experience the sunny days and fun adventures that you captured with the camera.  Look for projects that will be antidotes for the dark.

Even better, look for projects that require this weather.  It’s hard to learn to snowshoe in the summer sun.

How’s your sense of purpose?  Focus on the everyday contrariness of life–like a downpour as you head out the door for a lunch appointment–is usually part of a meager life plan.  Since you aren’t thinking about much else, you fret about the weather (or what the neighbor’s dog is doing in your yard).  This is the stuff from which unhappy old people grow.  Do you really want to do that?  To be that?

When you are working on something bigger than your comfort–that you believe in and want to make happen–you lose track of time.   You work in the middle of the night and don’t even notice.  Finding your purpose trumps a month long trip to the Bahamas in terms of being able to deal with the weather.  Before you sign on with a realtor to look for a second home “somewhere warm” get serious about defining your purpose and then get on with honoring it.  You’ll be amazed at how much “better” your local weather is.

Yes, it’s nice to “get away.”   If there’s money for it and somewhere you really want to see, go.  But don’t go “to get away from the weather.”  No place on earth has perfect weather.  You can be perfectly content regardless of the weather if you pay attention to what you need to make your life fulfilling in bigger ways.

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Mary Lloyd is a speaker and consultant and author of Supercharged Retirement:  Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love.  Please check out her website. at www.mining-silver.com.

Questions to Ask if You’re Thinking about Working after You Retire

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Is it looking like you might have to work for your entire life?  That may be better than you can imagine. The trick is to stop thinking that the current rat race is not your only option.

If you do it right, including some amount of paid work as part of your retirement lifestyle is likely to result in a more satisfying retired life overall.  The key is figuring out how you can do what you love for money.  And how you can do it for as much of the time as you choose instead of letting your work life trump the rest of your life.

As you consider how this might look for you, there are six important questions to ask:

What do I love to do?  Quite often we end up in our life’s work by default.  Some of us come to love it and some of us just keep doing it because it’s easier than starting in a new direction.  If what you are doing now (assuming you aren’t yet retired), doesn’t make you smile anymore, it’s wise to start figuring out what will before you retire.  Maybe it’s a hobby you are already pursuing.  Maybe it’s something entirely new.  The only way you are going to find out is to start thinking about it.

How can I make money at what I love to do?  There are ways, regardless of what it is.  If you love golf, work at a course, or a golf megastore.  If you love to shop, find a slot in retail that’s fun.  If you love making sausage in the middle of the night, there’s probably a way to parlay that into an income.

An essential piece of getting this to work is to stop thinking that everything has to be done between 8 and 5 on weekdays.  You may want to keep that time for other things and work nights and weekends to keep the checkbook fat.

Is there only one thing that I love to do?  If you’ve done a lot of different things while you were working full time, expect to do so for retirement income as well.  A retired elementary school teacher I know makes money as a Santa but is also a tour guide on summer travel excursions.

How much do I want to work?  Half time?  A third of the year on specific projects?  Only with customers X, Y, and Z?  A piece of that answer is going to be about how much money you need to continue to make, but an even bigger piece is what else you want to have time for.  (Hint:  Don’t worry about lying on some tropical beach with a cold drink in your hand.  That’s called vacation and it doesn’t work as a day after day lifestyle in retirement.)

What shape do I want my work to take?  When you love what you do, you find ways to get to do it.  The most traditional would be regularly scheduled work—full or part time, but there’s a long list of options.  You can work on a contract basis for a limited period.  You can work piece rate.  You can work project by project.  You can work in a “performance only” company where you can do your work whenever you want as long as it’s done on time.

How can I get to do what I love the way I’d like to do it?  It takes time to get to where you can pull this kind of thing off.  Time to get good enough at what you want to do that you gain a reputation.  Time to come up with an approach that meets both your needs and the needs of the person you want to work for.  Time to convince whoever you need to that it’s a good idea.  A guy I met recently drives a high-performance dune buggy for tourists as a retirement job.  He worked for the utility company for decades, but he’s been driving dune buggies since he was nine.  His driving skills were so well known that a total stranger approached him in line at the grocery store about working for him as a sand rail driver.

His story is the magic we’d all like to rely on.  He wasn’t thinking about working but the offer was too much fun to pass up.  But don’t expect that to happen automatically.  You have to have a reputation for the job to come to you.

Figure out what you want to do.  Get involved with others who are doing it.  Achieve a reputation for doing it well.  The more of that you can do before you retire, the easier it will be to walk into your dream retirement job when you get that far.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2010 issue of Barbara Morris’s online newsletter Put Old on Hold.

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Mary Lloyd is a speaker and consultant and author of Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love.  For more about how to work in retirement, please visit her website http://www.mining-silver.com.  She can also be reached at mary@mining-silver.com.

A New Column for Employers

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Older talent is one of the best kept secrets of the current employment environment.  There’s a whole lot more to what experienced employees bring to the table than “history.”  Learn what you need to know to use this resource to your company’s advantage.

Check out Mary Lloyd’s new column for employers at Workforce50.com.  There’ll be something new every month.

Forgiveness as a Stress Reduction Strategy

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Even if you aren’t interested in the religious implications, learning how to forgive is worth doing.

We all get the advice: “Forgive and forget… Turn the other cheek.”  But when your blood is boiling over what happened and the injustice is over the top, it’s the last thing you’re going to think to do.  You want, with every fiber of your being, for that other s-o-b to realize how wrong he or she was.

Cut!

That’s the time when  you need to know how to forgive the most.  Why?  Because that furious attitude is a source of massive stress.   The major religions of the world advocate forgiveness as a key to leading a holy life.  That’s not where I’m coming from on this.  Nope, I’m suggesting something far more mundane and selfish than that:

Forgivenss  is a key piece of keeping the stress out of your life.

Whether you adhere to a particular religion or not, forgiving is something you need to do.  Not because of your great love for all mankind (which is great if you can pull it off).  For your own sanity.  Forgiving means you let go and move on.  Failing to forgive means you carry all that toxic emotion around with your for days….weeks….months.

This need to come from forgiveness is key for me in my primary relationship.   My very best friend is my man friend, but sometimes we get decidely crosswise with each other.  If I were in my A Game all the time, I’d be able to let go of whatever he was doing that I didn’t like instantly.  I’m not that proficient yet.  But once I recognize that “it’s the forgiveness thing again” I can drop the “slight” or “inconsideration” or whatever I’ve been labeling it in a heartbeat.  I am so grateful to know that (and finally realized I did yesterday, which is why I’m passing this along).

The flip side is equally important though.  He “should” forgive, too, right?  I should be off the hook with whatever he’s found unacceptable the same way, right?

Nope.  Forgiveness is about accepting what is and just letting it be what it is.  If it takes him longer to thaw, I still need to stay with forgiveness.  Not because of my feelings for him–those just make it even more important.  No, I need to stick with forgiveness because that’s where my own peace resides.

Forgiveness is not about “being right” or letting the other person “be right.”  Forgiveness is letting go of what happened for the sake of what you want to happen.

I want my life to be happy and calm.  I value contentment.  The most effective way to get back to that is to forgive whoever or whatever got me upset.

It doesn’t have to be about God.  It doesn’t have to be about being a good Catholic…Mormon…Presbyterian…Buddhist…or Muslim.  All it has to be is the acceptance of the uselessness of carrying a grudge.

Forgive.  Life is so much better for YOU when you do.

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Mary Lloyd is a speaker and consultant and author of Supercharged Retirement:  Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love.  She can be reached at mary@mining-silver.com.