Pandemic Retirement Reset Opportunity

Our quest to expand lifespan has been successful to a point here in the United States.  The fields of medicine combined with technology, government and private sector inroads have ushered in increased live births, improved workplace safety, provided clean drinking water and quality, clean food options, reduction in diseases, increased access to education and internet.  All bode well for exponential growth over the past 100 years in our standard of living and longevity.  This is all hit a wall in 2010 as stagnation set in and then, well – a pandemic hit.

Behavior scientists have studied times of disruption and how they create new opportunities for growth and change.  For many, this pandemic has been the biggest life disrupter we have ever faced.  How we work, engage with others, eat, go to school, vote, age – you name the system, it no longer worked as expected.  It is time to rewrite the script on retirement.

The common thread woven through the books ‘Boundless Potential: Transform Your Brain, Unleash Your Talents, and Reinvent your Work in Midlife and Beyond’ by  Mark S Walton;     David Brooks ‘The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life;   and Arthur Brooks ‘From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life is that there are new models for moving into and through your fall season of life that will increase happiness and wellbeing.

A Sigmoid Curve illustrates this growth and change.  Before the trajectory of life starts to decline, as is what happens when you live life by default, you have a choice.  You can create new momentum.  Yes, death is unavoidable, but the journey through aging can be more intentionally fulfilling and rewarding.

The transition zone may include several representations and will have financial implications that need to be unpacked, understood, and optimized.  Here are three paradigms to consider:

  1. A shift from utilizing your fluid intelligence to optimizing your crystalized intelligence. Your Fluid intelligence refers to your abilities to reason and think flexibly, where Crystallized intelligence refers to accessing a lifetime accumulation of knowledge, facts and skills.
  2. A shift in your pursuit of happiness through extrinsic motivators to intrinsic. As we age, we find less reward in material possessions, fame, and praise and will find more happiness and meaning as we create opportunities to explore, give, learn and actualize our potential.  Laurie Santos’ unpacks this in her course “The Science of Well-Being
  3. A shift in your definition of success. You may have spent mid life climbing a corporate ladder, building a career, or found deep satisfaction in raising your children.  You now can manifest success with a new identity as you bravely let go of the past.

Having financial resources is not about having the freedom FROM something – the absence of restraint.  It is about having the freedom TO DO something meaningful.   What sets your heart on fire?

We will find greater fulfillment in life when we look at using our financial and character resources to facilitate living out what David Brooks calls “fierce commitments”.  His four areas of fierce commitments in his book are vocation, marriage, philosophy, faith, and community.  The paradox of privilege (for perspective check out globalrichlist.com) is that wealth can separate us, isolate us and keep us from entering into the transformation or transition zone.  It can also provide fuel for the fire as we ignite our passion, purpose, and potential.

In Walton’s book, he shares the ancient Greek’s secret to longevity – “eugeria – a lifelong pursuit of worthy goals through the three components of our humanity: body, mind and soul.”

  1. They played hard. They were “the first people in the world to play and they played on a grand scale.” Games, athletic contests of every description. Not as an end but as preparation “for the work yet to come.”
  2. They worked hard. As the world’s first knowledge workers, they never stopped exerting their minds and were the original reinventing people. Knowledge work was the ultimate fun.
  3. They paid it forward. For them, “-it was clear that the soulful pursuit of paying it forward, of working for the benefit of each other and future generations, provided the greatest payback of all.”

This pandemic reset is an opportunity to recognize the inflection point.  Don’t leave it up to chance.  Don’t fall into bitterness, shame, or guilt – emotions of the past.  Don’t let fear or worry – emotions of the future keep you from entering the transformation zone.  Welcome it.  Talk about it with family and friends.  Find the book, the course, the podcast, the Ted talk that will encourage and convict you.  Find the professionals – life coach, transition coach, financial life planner or wealth advisor that will listen, advocate, and support you.

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