I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned

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Retirement as an Escape

Carl Landau | March 16, 2021
My wife and I just watched two thought-provoking movies, back to back.

 

The first one was Nomadland. After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. She travels the country and still works occasionally, meeting all kinds of people on her journey.

 

The second movie was Some Kind of Heaven, a documentary. It follows the lives (and challenges) of four people who live in The Villages, a mega-senior, Disney-esque community in Florida, home to approximately 140,000 people—seniors only!

 

These two movies were strangely similar in the fact that there are some people of (un)retirement age who just want to escape. To me personally, that doesn’t sound so great. But both movies stayed with me and made me think.

 

Nomadland showed (un)retired people who were often triggered by something in their lives, usually a trauma, to move on while shunning mainstream life. Some Kind of Heaven is just that—a place where seniors from all over the country come to live out their dream retirement. But is it?

 

My first reaction was to be judgmental. But if something terrible or unexpected thing happened to me, who knows what choices I would make? If I lived somewhere I didn't like or had few relatives or friends, maybe I would want to live out the stage of my life in an entirely different way. Who knows?

 

What I've learned from talking with our podcast guests is that you can’t look down on others who don't make the same choices you do. As Episode #21’s guest Ed Casey says, “(Un)retirement is like a fingerprint. Everyone is different.” I can’t think of a better way to make the case that we all need to enjoy life right where are, right now.

 

Tags:    the carl diary   retirement   film   movie   choices   unretirement  

Mike Drak Interview: How to Have a Fun, Exciting, Meaningful, Never-Boring (Un) Retirement!

Diana Landau | March 02, 2021

 
Carl’s guest this week is Mike Drak, author of a new book, Retirement Heaven or Hell: 9 Principles for Designing Your Ideal Post-Career Lifestyle. Mike writes from personal experience, including an abrupt retirement, his struggle and adjustment, and then how he went on to design the (un)retirement of his dreams. His book is honest, funny and heartfelt. The book also details steps YOU can take to determine your next steps. Each chapter asks reflective questions and encourages you to dive deeper into knowing what you want in this stage of life. Most of all, he encourages everyone with helpful advice on how to live your 55+ best life.
 
Mike grew up in Toronto and still lives there today. He had been working in commercial banking for 36 years, starting right out of college. What he found rewarding about his career was working with start-up businesses. Many were small family businesses (and multi-generational). He truly enjoyed helping people and still does.
 
SO after 30+ years as a banker, Mike began to think about doing something else. But nothing could have prepared him for the way he found out he was leaving. He was called upstairs to go over projections, yet a young woman from HR was there with severance papers. Adding insult to injury, the bank asked him to say he was “retiring,” and then to save money, actually combined going-away parties with other employees. “I felt like I was going to my own funeral,” Mike said.
 
He struggled, not knowing what to do at first. “I decided to write the book because I knew a lot of people were going to struggle like I did when transitioning to retirement. I knew a lot of people didn't have a handle on what real retirement is and what it feels like.” Waking up at 4:30am every day to write, he grew very excited about the project. (And he also happened to develop daily writing practice.) His editor noted that he started out to write a retirement book and ended up writing a book about (un)retirement! 
 
Today Mike is a 38-eight-year veteran of the financial services industry, working with his wife and still living in Toronto. He is also the bestselling author of Victory Lap Retirement, an award-winning blogger, public speaker and retirement lifestyle designer. His personal goals include training for a 2024 Iron Man triathlon and visiting his son in Australia, where they plan to face their fears and get in a cage with a Great White shark!
 
Mike’s “9 Principles” from his book offer great (un)retirement advice, but here’s  the key: “You need something to retire to—don’t waste valuable (un)retirement time planning what to do. Do it now!”
 
For more information about Mike Drak: https://boomingencore.com/en/article/announcing-our-book-retirement-heaven-or-hell
 
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.

 
Tags:    mike drak   interview   unretirement   author   writing   banking   retirement   bestseller  

The Light Switch Goes off for My (Un)Retirement

Carl Landau | March 02, 2021
I didn't consciously do this, but some sort of "light switch" in my (un)retirement life went off recently. When I put together my Google calendar for this week, I automatically put in my 3 pickleball times/days first. This is an interesting shift. Previously, I would always put in all my work related priorities first and then fill in the rest.
 
This probably seems like a small change. But as I think about it, I realize that it's somewhat significant. Why? Because my last day of "a real job" was March 2020 and I've been in transition for almost a year into what we like to call (un)retirement. I'm not 100% sure why this calendar transition took place. Could it be the influence of listening to great life advice from the 20+ guests I've had on "I Used to be Somebody"? Or maybe I am finding a better balance between work and play. Either way, it feels great!
Tags:    the carl diary   retirement   working   priorities   unretirement  

Planning can be Sexy!

Carl Landau | February 02, 2021
I know in (un)retirement you have a lot of freedom and you can probably do whatever the hell you want to do. But taking the freewheeling approach to a retirement "non-plan" usually means  getting zero done and you don't feel particularly fulfilled. 
 
We came up with 20 UnRetirement Strategies. Some may seem obvious. And some are just silly. But #1, "Developing a Routine" has come up in almost every guest interview on the podcast. The key is that your (un)retirement plan doesn't have to be crazy ambitious to be successful. You are also allowed to build some fun into your plan!
 
In reflecting over the past, as well as the last super-weird year we have all experienced, I have come up with some new additions to my own (un)retirement plan. Here are three things that I've learned to do and have stuck with successfully:
 
1) Pivot: My wife and I, along with probably a lot of you, were planning to take some really cool trips to other countries. So Diana and I decided that every 6 weeks, we'd take a mini-trip. And we've had an absolute blast renting various VRBO's and exploring small towns in our region. We've hiked up a storm. These little getaways give us some travel to look forward to, even during the pandemic. So if your original plan doesn't fly, pivot!

2) Stretch: I know it sounds basic but stretching your body and mind is really important. Over a year ago, I suffered a severe hamstring injury (yes, playing pickleball) and did physical rehab. I learned a simple, daily 15-minute stretching routine. And I've incorporated meditating at the same time. For those who know me, this doesn't sound very "Carl-like", but I love it and never miss a day of my stretching routine.

3) Challenge:  I learned how to put together a weekly podcast and Diana and I write a weekly newsletter. This isn't easy to do. As deadline looms each week, it can be a little stressful. But I've learned there is positive stress and it's a really healthy thing to challenge yourself, especially in (un)retirement. In the last year, I've learned probably 100+ new things about technology, the creative process and the retirement industry. I've talked with new people that I would of never talked with in a million years, plus I'm making a connection with an audience of about 1,000 people a week. And hopefully we are helping our listeners figure out their (un)retirement. Find ways to keep challenging yourself!
 
See?  Making an (un)retirement plan can be sexy. Try it!!!
Tags:    the carl diary   retirement   unretirement   pivot   strategies  

Richard Haiduck Interview: A New Spin on (Un)Retirement

Diana Landau | January 19, 2021
Richard Haiduck was Carl’s guest on the podcast this week. Richard is a former Life Sciences Exec who just published his new book, Shifting Gears: 50 Baby Boomers Share Their Meaningful Journeys in RetirementThe book is based on interviews with retirees who share how they are shifting gears in their (un)retirement. Sometimes they shift smoothly, sometimes they grind the gears, and often they take some time to find their groove. The stories reveal the rich abundance of “second life” adventures, from the exotic to the mundane. It’s about the joys, challenges, and inspirations that are a part of the journey in this next stage of life.  
 
The interview started out extremely well when Carl asked his guest, as an icebreaker, if he knew anything about Pickleball. (Carl asks this question to every single guest, and so far he was 0-13.) Richard not only knew all about it, he has a court on his property(!) and plays often with his grandkids. So excited to get his very first positive response, Carl talked about how pickleball is the great equalizer, anyone can play together, it’s great exercise and super fun.
 
Now to the core of the interview—Richard grew up in Grand Rapids, MI and attended Miami University in Ohio. Even as a 7-year old, Richard knew he wanted to be an author. He wrote every day for one year, writing all kinds of fiction. Then he just stopped, wanting to focus on other kid-things like riding his bike, hanging out with friends, etc. A couple decades later, Richard turned that laser focus to the life sciences, working as a CEO for start-up bio-tech companies, their mission to discover breakthroughs in medicine.
 
After many years of living in Singapore and New Zealand, Richard then decided to pivot, setting up his own consulting practice. He wanted to share his knowledge and lessons learned to help new CEO’s of bio-tech start ups. He had two criteria for mentoring clients: “I worked with people I liked and I liked what they were working on.” Carl agreed that is one of the advantages of being an entrepreneur. He added, “You get to choose your employees AND choose your clients.”
 
Richard charted a wise and gradual course into (un)retirement life. Every year, over a span of 5 years, he began reducing his client load by 20% and adding a retirement activity. The goal was to phase out of work and ease into (un)retirement without that hard shift from “Monday you’re the boss, and Tuesday it all stops.” Richard and Carl acknowledged that depending on your profession, it’s not so easy for some people to do it that way.
 
Now fully in (un)retirement, Richard still cycles 3,000 miles a year, among other pursuits. As Richard talks with his friends and his network, he noticed a familiar thread. They were doing all these amazing things in retirement but not necessarily sharing about it. His desire to become an author, from all those years ago, came back. He wanted to write a book about their experiences to share with others. “I had two criteria for the book. 1) the process was enjoyable, and 2) over time, it had to feel like a useful book to people.”
 
A “relaxed intensity” theme emerged from these stories. Many people could still become deeply immersed in something, but in a more relaxed way. To explain it further, Richard said, “It’s like you take on something that’s difficult and a challenge without ripping your insides out about it.  You just can’t do that in your 30’s.” The end result is (un)retirees are combining joy with a sense of purpose.
 
Richard’s (un)retirement advice:
 •     I used to be somebody, I’m still somebody—just different now.
 •     Before you make the decision to retire, be sure you are able to identify what you are going to.
 •     Try it on and see, if it doesn’t work, move on!
 •     Define what this new freedom really means to you.
 
To learn more about Richard Haiduck: visit his website.
 
For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #14 with Richard Haiduck.
 
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.
Tags:    blog   interview   cycling   author   retirement   advice  

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