I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned
Carl Diary #2 - Bring on the Nostalgia
Carl Landau | August 11, 2020
Am I the only one feeling really nostalgic these days?
Since the beginning April I haven’t had a "real" job. First time in 32 years! So with some extra free time and the pandemic, I've been forced to slow down a bit and I can't help thinking back on my past. Have you felt the same way lately?
I just listened to a short Hidden Brain podcast episode called The Time Machine, all about the feeling of nostalgia. You'd think reflecting on your past would be depressing. It's not! Research shows that “nostalgia-thinking” actually makes people more optimistic about the future. It reaffirms our social connections and our place in the world. And by remembering important details about your past, you can then lay out a vision for the future.
So I've been connecting with a bunch of people from my past. It's been easy to find some folks, harder to find others, and fun all the way around. I've probably reached out to about 20 old friends and had some great conversations.
I grew up in Cleveland, OH in the east side suburb of Shaker Heights. My best friend from age 5 to 14 was Bobby Brown. (Bobby goes by Bob now.) He retired about 4 years ago from a very successful career in the mortgage finance industry. He insists he was one of the good guys in the business. (And I believe him.) He's got a really cool volunteer gig with the Rock-n-roll Hall of Fame and still plays in a band.
After 30+ years, I also reconnected with Debby McColloch, (she goes by Deborah now) who lives in Philadelphia. She was a big time boss for the City's Office of Housing and pretty much a professional "do-gooder". Back in the day, we worked together as counselors at a local Shaker day camp -- the most fun job I've ever had in my life!. She was a few years older than me and taught me a little bit how the adult world operated. I was about 17 when we started working together. That was the last time I think in my life that I had absolutely no responsibilities!
Debby and I reminisced about watching the Indians and Yankees baseball game on our Nation's Bi-Centennial (Does anyone remember the annoying Bi-Centennial Minute messages?) and seeing an Elton John and Kiki Dee concert.
She also told me how huge and unexpected the adjustment to retirement was for her and how it felt to go from being the big boss to all of a sudden no one caring about your opinion any more. That discussion gave me a bunch of pointers on how to make this transition easier.
I really encourage everyone to reach out this week to someone who made a big impact on you in your younger life. It really is a great feeling and gives hope for the future!
The science is in—but some people still fear that taking a quick nap during the day will mean they can’t sleep well at night. Not true! As we age, we need to think about our energy in a different way. Power naps are the answer!
In fact, the length of your nap and the type of sleep you get helps determine many brain-boosting benefits. A 20 to 30-minute power nap is good for alertness and motor learning skills, plus it helps boost memory and enhance creativity. (Warning: if you nap longer than 30 minutes, you’ll likely feel sluggish, groggy, and more tired than before.)
Nappers are in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap.*
Think of it more like setting a daily pace that works for you now. When we were all younger, it was full steam ahead. But our bodies have different requirements as we age and taking into account our need for a balance of energy and rest is critical to good health.
Not convinced yet?
Try these 3 quick tips:
Find a quiet place to lie down, mid-afternoon. Before 3pm is ideal.
Set a timer and calm your mind. (Do not look at your mobile device!)
Practice. Yes, you can train your body and brain to rest.
Of course if you have real trouble sleeping at night/insomnia or you’re just not a good napper, then a mini-doze during the day might not be right for you. But if you feel a little tired in the afternoon and want to rest up to rev up, try a daily power nap. ZZZZZZZZZ.
P.S. Sleepjunkies.com suggests a Nappuccino! A “caffeine nap,” or a quick cup of something caffeinated followed by sleep, outperforms both a nap or caffeine independently. Because caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, drinking a cup right before a 10- to 20-minute nap means the caffeine will start working just as you wake up, leaving you feeling refreshed and alert.
“How are you going to deal with not being a big deal anymore?”
It’s been about 8 months since my wife Diana asked me that question over a happy hour glass of wine. I had sold my company a few months before and was working a part-time one-year stint with the new company to show them the ropes.
"What do you mean?"
"Once you leave your job, the emails and phone calls stop coming and no one really cares about your opinion any more". And then she joked, (I think), "And I don't need you following me around the house, showing me the right way to make toast.”
It didn't take long for this information to worm its way into my brain. I knew she was right. This was the third company I’d started and sold. Way back "in the day" as they say (early 80's), I’d launched a computer magazine for software developers; the 1st magazine about Artificial Intelligence; plus a national conference and tradeshow. Then in the 1990s I started a craft beer / wine publication and event during that first wave of microbreweries.
After I sold those companies it all ended. Once you’re gone no one cares! Sure, you remain friends with a few of the people that you were close with but the company -- your “life’s work” -- moves on without you. It’s weird.
And now, after 20 years of being the Grand Poobah of my company Niche Media, creating hundreds of events for niche magazine publishers, it was all going to be ending—again.
So when you're an entrepreneur or corporate exec, a lot of your self worth is wound up in that job. I've always felt like I've been a pretty good dad, brother and husband. But, it's the work creation that I know I was good at. To me it came more naturally than the family stuff.
Within a few days I realized what I wanted to do. I wanted to start a podcast for people like me. Like anyone my age (63) I want to spend more time with my family and go on really great vacations, (which of course is sort of a bad joke for everyone now, but they will be back!) But I still want to do work in new ways!
I really get a lot of energy from the work and creating. I just don't want the day-to-day grind. I want to have more fun and control the pace. So I've made a deal with myself; Try all sorts of new things. So I’m sort of the guinea pig for this Second Act journey into (un)retirement. Join me for the ride...
P.S. Why the Tiki diary? I have a fun Tiki bar instead of a garage —where I’ll be producing the podcast from! The "I Used to be Somebody" podcast debuts September 15th.
In your Second Act, no one manages your time except you! At first, a big, wide-open retirement calendar can be fun. But at some point you realize you really don’t want to waste your time. And we all need a sense of accomplishment, no matter where we’re focusing our energies. It can be easy to get overwhelmed looking at an ever-growing list of all the things you want (or need) to do. On the other hand, running around with everything in your head slows you way down.
So how do you best manage your days?
Desmond Tutu wisely said “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” Here is a quick list of 10 tips to get you organized to meet your goals. The key here is to better construct your schedule so you can spend the majority of your time as you wish!
1. Assign a time limit for each task you want to accomplish. For example, if you want to clean your office, assign 2-hour increments. It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you break it up into manageable segments.
2. Itemize the “big ones”. For bigger tasks that may take longer, set up a to-do list tailored specifically to that goal. Tackling each step gets you closer to that larger accomplishment.
3. Don’t abandon tasks. Take your list-crafting seriously and don’t ignore what you’ve written down. Procrastination is one of the biggest time-wasters. Don’t give in to it.
4. There’s an app for that. Believe it or not, there are many new apps out there to help with time management. For example, RescueTime helps you understand your time in a way you never have before.
5. Set aside time to plan your attack. The night before, take 15 minutes to plan your day, and include in some down time. It’s important to be realistic. One solution could be to wake up an hour earlier.
6. Tackle very important tasks in the morning. Although there are true night-owl exceptions, many of us have most of our energy in the morning, after a night’s sleep.
7. Consider batching tasks that are similar. You can save time using the same skills for the same sort of to-dos. For example, don’t make one appointment or follow up call, make three.
8. Delegate, outsource, even ask for help. TaskRabbit and Thumbtack are go-to resources when you need help. And although most of us don’t want to bother friends or family, you are missing out on an opportunity to return the favor. That’s what makes the world go-round.
9. Limit your time on social media and online surfing. Seriously. Set a timer on your phone and when the timer goes off, get up out of that chair and MOVE.
10. Celebrate each completion! Crossing items off your to-do list creates daily optimism and is empowering. Your valuable time is now free for tracking dreams.
1. No one told me that in retirement, no one wants your expertise about that work you did for the last 20+ years. (Not even your spouse. Maybe your dog.)
2. No one told me that in retirement, taking a nap isn’t as fun as it used to be. You lay down for a moment (or three) to rest a little…and you’re afraid you might not get up again!
3. No one told me that my significant other is so busy. Here I thought they’d drop everything and focus on ME when I retired.
4. No one told me that in retirement that I’d get around to that consistent exercise routine and finally get in shape…but I’d have injuries! Pulled muscles! Playing through the aches! I can go on…
5. No one told me that I’d have to make new friends at my age. Not so easy! I think it’s harder for guys and more so if you had an all-consuming career.
6. No one told me that in retirement, the two most powerful words are YES and NO. Yes, I would like to go to dinner or see that new play! No, I do not want to join your committee with 30 weekly phone calls/emails and 5 meetings each month!
7. No one told me that in retirement, people would assume I do nothing all day. Not true! What’s different is now I control what I want to do and when I want to do it.
8. No one told me that in retirement, I would actually want to work, but just in a different way. (Less grind, more fun!) In fact, 3 in 5 retirees plan to launch a new line of work that differs from what they have done in the past.*
9. No one told me that in my Second Act, I would find my new work life so rewarding!
10. No one told me that in (un)retirement, there are so many people just like me—people who actually feel younger, not older! *