March 17, 2014

Re-Brand Yourself Now

One of the posts I wrote in the first few months of Satisfying Retirement continues to resonate with me. I've freshened it just a bit to reflect some of what I have learned in the almost four years since I wrote it. See what you think.

What is the most depressing word in the English language? According to Ernest Hemmingway, it is “retirement.” The dictionary defines retirement as an ending, a conclusion, a termination, seclusion –get the idea? These are not very pleasant connotations. Yet, this is the word we hear every day and it can affect how we think.

What we need is a re-branding. The goal is to change the image of the word. Retirement needs to be positioned in folks' minds as a period of incredible opportunity. It isn’t a conclusion; rather it is an encore, an additional performance added to an already great event. It is a time when your talents and creativity can reach new heights.

Companies rebrand all the time. They come up with a new product name, or design for the packaging. Old products disappear to be replaced with "new and improved" versions. Why not us? How would your retirement be rebranded? Here are a few thoughts:

Create a vision of how you’d live if you could start from scratch. Here’s a shocker: that’s exactly what happens when you leave the job behind. You are starting again with a clean slate. How you spend your time and energy, who you associate with, what new challenges you take on are all within your power. Obviously, finances or health will create some barriers. But, I contend there are fewer limitations than you had when you were working 40 hours a week.

Set timetables for turning that vision into your life. This doesn’t mean, “By Friday I’ll learn to play the guitar.” A realistic goal for the next year might be to become good enough to play a few songs for friends at a picnic. If your health isn’t where you want it to be, your goal could be to get your cholesterol numbers below 210 by your next physical. Setting goals that are too general and too open-ended won’t work. You must be able to measure your progress.

Tell friends and family what you are doing. “Going public” is one of the best ways to keep you motivated. None of us likes to say we are going to do something and then not live up to the promise. If you keep your goals and vision to yourself, it is much easier to waffle and make excuses.

Don’t accept the marketplace’s definition of who you are and what you can do. Being retired means only what you allow it to mean. For many this is the busiest, most exciting, most fulfilling time of their lives. To them retirement means re-fire-ment: becoming fired up by all that life has to offer.

Don't be afraid to shake things up. Maybe that means moving to another part of town, or another part of the country altogether. Maybe you want to try living in a small condo in the center of the city instead of the suburbs or try full time RVing for a time. Join a club, volunteer for something a little out of your comfort zone. Now is the time when you can experiment with your lifestyle. Do it.
Rebranding this part of your life into what you want it to be can be one of the most important decisions you make. Don’t allow society to put you in a small box when you feel like a massive storage container.



34 comments:

  1. Once again, as somebody who has his proverbial "whole life ahead of him", I look forward to reti... my golden years as being a point in life when I can spend time traveling, partaking in hobbies, and being with grandkids and other family. I also hope it will be a time when I can see the realization of some long-term personal goals as well!

    I love the optimism in your points!

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  2. I'd glad you enjoy my optimism! There is a mistaken belief that as we get older (regardless whether that means 30 or 40 or 60) we get grumpier. Not true. It is all attitude and making the most of whatever opportunities come your way.

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  3. I like this thinking. Retirement is a good time to rebrand yourself. There is too much coasting to the finish line these days. Be outrageous and do what you always dreamed of doing. I am not sure that asking your friends will help here because they will likely want to talk you out of your craziness.

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  4. I am afraid you are right about friends. It is an odd quirk of human nature to not be fully supportive of others, but to look for ways to keep everyone on the same level. I think it best you tell them what you are doing, don't ask them ahead of time for permission or opinions!

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  5. I am about to "rebrand" after 52 years of teaching. I am sad and happy at the thought of it....my family doesn't know me as NOT a teacher....it is scary. Any thoughts?

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    1. Re-branding in the sense I am using the term really relates to re-branding yourself. Besides being a teacher for over half a century (congratulations!), how do you think of yourself? What else lights your fire? What do you really enjoy doing when you aren't doing a lesson plan or grading papers? What have you always wanted to explore...volunteering, travel, writing, gardening....?

      Now is YOUR time. Once you determine how you want to productively fill your days and keep your mind active (it will take a minimum of several months) then announce to your friends and family what you are doing. That will help them begin to think of the "new" you and put you in the position of wanting to fulfill your plans.

      If you are new to this blog, welcome. There are close to 400 posts, virtually all of which should help you make the transition from teacher to whatever is next in your life. I'd suggest starting with the archive on the right sidebar and start at the very beginning (2010, June). Click quickly through each post, stopping at the ones you think might give you some guidance.

      I also invite you to e-mail me (satisfyingretirement@gmail.com) if you'd like to discuss specific questions or concerns that we can exchange ideas privately.

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  6. I have always used the word "reinventing" instead of rebranding...but it pretty well interprets the same. I find since I retired early almost nine years ago I have had to "reinvent" what my retirement looks like more than once.
    I view it as now having the time to do all the things I never had the time to do before. First it was working part-time then it was finding volunteer opportunities and travel. Now it also includes more time to assist my aging parents. These are things that are very important to me and would have been very limited pre-retirement. I also can spend more time on hobbies, reading and at the top of the list are the grandchildren.
    However, the list evolves each year and I must genuinely re-examine my list each and every year. Time allocated to each changes. And new wonderful things are added also.

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    1. In reality we re-brand ourselves throughout our whole life. But, retirement seems particularly fertile ground to cast off the old and try the new....again, again, and again.

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    2. My church has many retired teachers who have "unretired" as expert instructors in the youth education program. They have lighter workloads than previously, I know of none who are not delighted with their roles. Perhaps a new career closely related to an old one can be a good thing for retirees.

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  7. Personally, I don't feel the need to do any rebranding. I figure that by my actions I am doing the best job of redefining retirement in the minds of those with whom I interact. I think the reconceptualization of the term retirement in the minds of those still working is actually making that shift. as they see us being so upbeat and engaged in life. Many of my friends who never really thought (positively) about retirement are now licking their chops at the date of their retirement as they watch retirees like my wife and me "party on".

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    1. We re-brand ourselves and our stage in life by how we live: exactly right, Steve. This is a part of life in search of a new definition. Retirement just doesn't work anymore.

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  8. What does Hemingway know ... I agree with you!

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    1. Ernest lived with six-toed cats in Key West. I think that calls into question his judgement.

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    2. He was also a miserable alcoholic. Not necessarily the best judge of life stages :)

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  9. Great insight. It all comes back to attitude and learning, (if you don't already know), that seeing the glass half full will always serve you better.
    b

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    1. Your retirement is defined by you and only you. The definition has become so fluid that the old model just doesn't make sense anymore, does it !

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  10. When I retired three years ago I sold all of my possessions and plan to spend the next decade vagabonding around the world and making up for lost time, It is hard to imagine the relief that come from being, "the tool of my tools".

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    1. Wow...now that is some serious re-branding. I encourage you to drop me an e-mail now and then to let me know how things are going. There might be an interesting blog post or two based on your experiences.

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  11. It's funny, now that we have actually made the retirement decision I find I want to read about ACTIVITIES and frugality, and travel and RV-ing and not so much about "retirement!!" Ralph is right--don't ask friends for advice, most of them will try to talk you out of pursuing your wild dreams! We are pursuing ours anyway!!

    Reinvention: A liberating thought! Now that we have time I am reinventing what my days look like: I now have time to start the morning off with spiritual practice.I have a loose daily plan for yoga and a long walk or a more vigorous hike , my priorities are shifting..I want to focus much more on our diet and get physically stronger.

    Am also leaving lots of space for serendipity!

    Dr. Dean Ornish says that sometimes a GREAT BIG CHANGE, going ALL IN is easier than making change in agonizing baby steps..for us, that's about right--we tend to go whole hog.. and retirement/reinvention is no different,it seems..

    Again, thanks for all your wonderful posts,Bob! Can't wait for more RV trip discussions!!

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    1. Isn't today your first day being full-timers in your home in the mountains? What an exciting time.

      I understand your request for more about RV travel and activities. I feel that way, too, even as I realize that nearly half the readers of this blog are still moving toward retirement so helping them get where you and Ken are is part of my goal.

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    2. I agree ! You really do strike a great balance between retirement issues and lifestyle stuff.. I am always happy to see a new post! TOMORROW the movers come and we are finally full timers in the mountain community where we have visited part time for years.. aaaahhh.......

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  12. Recently feeling the need to shake things up. I was just last night reading an old but really good book that I picked up at a library sale. It is called Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want by Barbara Sher. It talks first about how to identify what you want and then how to get it. Because I agree that we often have the need to rebrand, I am going through the exercises about identifying new goals and what "need" they will fill as this is not always obvious. Right now I am hung up on imagining in detail the perfect day (not a vacation day, but a normal day). And you can be or do anything you want - even a rock star or Pres. of US. but you must go through the real day... which might make you change your mind. Where are you, who are you with , what are you doing from the time you wake til you go to bed. We, of course, cannot be anything we want, but we can identify what need that would fill for us and what else might fill that need. I am having too much fun with different ideas. Need to get on with some action and not just imagination. This book also has great ways to accomplish your goals. I am a self help book junkie so don't know how I missed this one. So back to my task..."I want to wake in an all white bed with great art around me and step out to feel an ocean breeze ....etc. etc.."

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    1. If you haven't taken a look at the "Reimagining" book yet, that is another good one. You can read my review by clicking the "New Section" link just under the blog name at the top of this page. Then, scroll down to book reviews and you will find a link that takes you to that review.

      A perfect day....I wonder what mine looks like? And, importantly, how often does that definition change?

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  13. As someone who will retire shortly, I envision myself busier than during my working life. Between things to do around the property, investing, and so forth, there will not be enough time in the day. Throw in the motorcycle riding and other more enjoyable activities, and retirement will be a very positive experience. And since I am one of those people who could care less what others think of me, I have never felt the need to address those concerns. We will live our lives, have fun doing it, and when the time comes, hopefully have no regrets.

    As others begin to find out of my impending exit from the workforce, they have expressed that they have never seen someone make the move so quickly and easily. To be honest, reading blogs like this one here over the years have allowed me to get mentally acclimated to the change. I would suggest anyone looking to retire begin to ready themselves years in advance. The Web has made it so easy to do exactly that, whether you are looking for social, financial, or any other type of helpful advice.

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    1. I'm glad you have found this blog, and others, to help you in your preparation. From what I know of you over the last few years you have been leaving comments, I think you are going to have a tremendous experience. You have approached retirement (or whatever name we want to call this time of life) with intelligence and dedication.

      I really hope that one of our RV trips takes Betty and me close enough to you and Deb to spend a delightful few hours together. I think we'd get along famously.

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    2. Dinner will be on us, Bob!

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  14. When I retired 14 months ago, my priority was to get healthy. No more excuses about "too tired to exercise" after work. Plus adequate time to cook a healthy dinner. I now walk 6 of 7 days for an hour. I have eliminated all fast food, and have lost 40 pounds. I am LOVING being retired.
    Diane from Long Beach, CA

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    1. Congratulations! 40 pounds! That is quite an accomplishment. You are right about losing a ready made excuse. And, as you have probably learned, exercise actually gives you energy instead of making you more tired.

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  15. I agree with Diane above; in fact despite loving my job, I didn't have any hesitation about retiring (two years ago) & never thought about sadness. I felt like I had succeeded at a hard, important job & that I deserved my time off. I am now finally beginning to lose weight & have thoroughly enjoyed these two years. I'm on my way to losing over 80 pounds & find that the longer I go the easier it is to recognize excuses & realize "that's who I USED to be, not who I am now."

    pam

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    1. "Who I used to be but not who I am now" is a great way to describe the changes that retirement can bring to our life and selves.

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  16. I have devoured your blog for a year now as I moved closer to decision day for me. My work career comes to an end this summer; retirement starts in July. I am excited about the time to pursue so many passions that get sidelined by long hours of energy-draining work. I sometimes wonder about how I will fill that need for fulfillment I seek within my job right now BUT reading your blog gives me different directions of exploration. I love Re-Branding instead of Re-tiring! I am borrowing that term - I feel a blog coming on! We are pulling up stakes, moving across country to seek out milder winters in our frozen north, downsizing into a much smaller home in a 50+ community and making travel plans for a major, 4-month trip just one step beyond backpacking in parts of Europe, North Africa, & Turkey. I see a cycling trip (lots of training to get me there yet!) in a year - maybe in through Oregon plus lots and lots of grandma time! And writing and.....well, maybe I won't have any trouble finding that passion after all! Why, I might even throw in some consulting just to keep the brain ticking in tune with my heart! Thanks for all the information - I have used a lot of it to get me to this stage of my re-branding!

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    1. It doesn't sound as though you will have any trouble filling your time in productive and exciting ways, Eileen. Just 4 months to go...how much fun!

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  17. Thanks for republishing this post. It is still as important and helpful as when first published. Everyone approaching retirement should be thinking about who they think they are and more important about who they would like to be without the distraction of a job title.

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    1. Thanks, Ralph. With about 90% fresh readers since this post was first published, it is new to most. Glad to see you adding your thoughts after your comment above from August, 2010.

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