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.
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!
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!!!
OK, my "office-moving" strategy is probably counterintuitive. Most people aren't working in offices these days. Or they are trying to get out of their leases. But in a month I'm moving to probably the 15th office I've rented over the past 30+ years. Does this make any sense?
It does for a weirdo like me! I know that everyone seems to love working at home but I have never liked it. (It's too tempting to get distracted and have access to a real refrigerator!) Plus, I like a separation between my work and personal life. I also think my wonderful wife enjoys the peace and quiet with me out of the house. Another advantage is we both have something to talk/complain about at the end of each day.
Economically, does moving repeatedly make sense? Isn't it expensive with all that moving and a waste of energy? Couldn't I have just bought an office building by now? Yes and yes and yes!
But I just figured out what I really like about it all. It gives me a totally different view on life. I'm in a totally different section of town. Different restaurants around me. New places to explore on my breaks. I have different biz neighbors and literally a different view from my desk. And It's way easier than moving my house, which I never want to do.
It's the same reason I don't want a second home--because I don't want to just keep going to the same place over and over. I want to travel to as many places (post-pandemic) and meet as many different people and engage with as many different cultures as I can.
So, yeah -- I'm probably the only person in America today looking for a new office space. This is the "Carl America Stimulus Package" to bring back the economy!
The best part of my new gig is the actual interviewing of the guests. Because of the pandemic almost all my interviews are done via an online recording service. My favorite part of my weekly conversation is actually after I stop recording and talk to that week's guest for a few minutes. The guest can relax and usually will talk about something personal or something really funny that they publicly don't want to say.
This week I was talking to Barry Pincus who is highlighted in this week's newsletter. I was telling Barry that if I wasn't doing this new gig, I would never have met him or the other really cool guests we've had. I even look forward to doing the prep for the interviews every week and learning something new from each guest.
After 8 episodes, I’ve: laughed so hard with Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing; met best selling author Moira McGarvey Black: reunited with former high school friend Bob Tuschman about his Food Network days: met (in person, at a distance!) hometown Sacramento hero Richard Turner; conversed with pioneering sports columnist and book author-- the legend Joan Ryan: learned from media giant Michela O'Connor Abrams about how to deal with tough life events; and relived my sports dreams with author and all around good guy Jim Roddy.
And then amazingly-- I just interviewed one of my personal heroes. Former SF Giants' star pitcher and broadcast royalty Mike Krukow is my guest for next week's episode. I was an awe-struck, nervous fan!
I feel so lucky these days. And have learned to challenge myself and of the power of doing something new and putting yourself out there!