Warning: Don’t Retire

Photo by Margie Johnston via Flickr

According to research done by Britain’s Institute of Economic Affairs, retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40% and it increases the probability of having at least one diagnosed physical condition by about 60%.

Sounds horrible, no? So why do people retire? We’ve convinced ourselves it’s because the pool-side relaxation at the end of 4+ decades of work is our birthright. Frankly, it’s only because in the 1880s, the Chancellor of Germany put into place the novel idea of contributing state funds to support people over 70 who could no longer work. Life expectancy was then about 65, so really, not many people actually retired.

Shortly thereafter, however, North Americans adopted the idea, dialled back retirement age to 65 and never adjusted it. Financial planners who want your business tempt you with visuals of a perfect life on the horizon; a time with no cares in the world. The thing is, today we can expect to live to 80, so we have a precarious 15 years – some will surely have 30– to try to avoid the real hazards of retirement.

Retirees can lose their footing in society, and start to question their purpose, even if they’re doing deep reflection from a beach in Hawaii.

According to psychologists, connecting to one’s purpose is a trait we all share, regardless of level of wealth. Whether you’re a bus driver or a CEO, the right perspective can inspire a feeling of doing meaningful work. Take that work away, and aligning with daily purposeful activities becomes a lot less clear. And it’s making us sick.

Here’s what we can do about it: Stop aiming for retirement, and rather, aim for being “selfishly employed”. If you really want out of the rat race, save your pennies for the goal of working at something you love and that’s aligned with your physical capacity. Consult, teach yoga, write, sell cookies, fundraise, whatever. As long as you insert yourself into something that forces you to think, be relied upon, socialize and get up in the morning to give your gifts to the world.

For retirees reading this whom I’ve frightened, I have something for you. I started an initiative last year called More to Give. Until now, I’ve kept this free coaching offer off my public profile, sharing it only with my personal network. I’m putting it out here now because I’d like to meet more amazing retirees and help them to feel great about this chapter of their lives.

(If you read about More to Give as a younger person, I hope it attunes you to encouraging our seniors to identify and act on their true relevance and importance in our society.)

Here goes! 

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MORE TO GIVE: A FREE coaching program for retirees in the Greater Toronto Area
with Certified Coach Rachel Weinstein

“Tell me more…”
The intention of this program is for you to feel an increased sense of purpose and pride every day through giving more.
Of course, you already touch people’s lives through the giving of your time and talents. This is a way to expand from there if you have a desire to do so.
If you are a sharp-minded 65-105-year-old living in Toronto who’s not working and feel that you have more to give (even if you’re in a situation where you’re required to receive assistance of some type from others) then you qualify for this FREE program.

“What will I get?”
The program includes an in-person conversation with me, a Certified Coach. As a Coach, I support people to define, pursue and meet their goals.
Working together, you’ll design a plan as to how you will contribute something more – however big or small – that feels meaningful to you. You might have started to think about this, but it’s often easier to get clarity through speaking to someone.

“Where and when would we meet?”
I am taking on a limited number of new participants a month, and when you get in touch, you’ll be booked in the first available slot.
Our meeting will be about an hour. We can meet at your local coffee shop or community centre, anywhere in Toronto. If you’re in a retirement residence, we can meet in the public space there. (I apologize, but for safety reasons, I can’t come to private homes.)

“Why are you doing this?”
Because I believe that your longevity is a gift to the world. You have a lifetime of accumulated skills and wisdom that others can benefit from, and I know you have a sense of that, too.

“I’m actually thinking about getting back into the workforce in some capacity. Can we talk about that in our sessions?”
Not as a part of the MORE TO GIVE program, however, this is certainly a topic well suited for my standard coaching programs. Contact me at rachel@weinstein.to and we can chat more about job/career coaching engagements. Or visit my website at www.coach.weinstein.to.

“MORE TO GIVE sounds amazing! How do I sign up?”
Please contact me by e-mail to set up our first session! rachel@weinstein.to

 “I’m a little hesitant, not sure what more I have to give, and haven’t heard of this type of ‘coaching’, but I’m intrigued. Can I ask you some questions?”
Anytime. Contact me at
rachel@weinstein.to 

“I’m a Coach and would love to do this type of work, too.”
Amazing! If you would like to work with me to expand this initiative, let me know! I think meeting retirees in person is most effective, so I’d love to expand into other geographic regions. rachel@weinstein.to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a Mensch or a Mouse?

Photo by jaarenwicklund via Flickr

Last week a girlfriend was recapping a TV interview with a Hollywood big-wig. “He actually seems like a real mensch”, she remarked.  (‘Mensch’ is a Yiddish word that literally means ‘human being’, but connotes a particularly fine, upstanding individual.) The surprise in her tone struck me – as if it was a novel concept that someone with such a profile can be a good person.

Lately, with so many leaders and (former) idols being called out on abusing their power and status, we’re getting used to breaking stories about their disgusting behaviour, offensive comments, deflected mistakes and exposed lies. That said, I coach many industry leaders – not quite Hollywood moguls, but significantly influential nonetheless – who are real mensches.

I took an informal poll among my network. I asked, “What makes a mensch of a leader?” Here’s what stood out:

They’re Humble. Everything this person asks of others, they do too, even if only on occasion. Sometimes they get the group coffee or make the photocopies. There’s never even a hint that they’re more important than the next person. They apologize easily and admit when they’re unsure.

They’re Thoughtful. They ask people about what matters to them. It’s clear they truly care about others’ experiences and feelings; they’re all in when they speak to you. They check in about their impact, and are particularly concerned about embarrassing anyone.

They’re Generous. mensch graciously gives time to their work team and colleagues, friends and family. They help out. They put their money and name behind causes they deem important.

They’re Respectful. They’re polite to everyone, regardless of position or gender: wait staff, receptionists, the intern, their peers. Even in a hurry or in a conflict, they’re fully present and their language is constructive. (And when they slip up, they own it.)

They Share the Credit. With awareness that their success is dependent on so many contributors, they graciously thank even the most peripheral ones when there’s a big win.

They’re Consistent. True mensches are the way they are, in both public and private situations. (These types are no good at faking it, anyway.)

So, a special shout out to the good people who are successful at the top because they’ve risen to the occasion, and inspired others to want to follow them.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Is Entrepreneurship for you?

photo by Manuel de Tillesse via Flickr

I do think some people are born entrepreneurs. I’ve met them, and am fascinated by them. These are the people who, as kids, were using their allowance to buy stickers in bulk to sell at a premium to friends in the playground, when the rest of us were merely trading “smellies” for “shinies”. (Forgive me if the girly ‘80’s reference leaves you scratching your head.)
Different from the business brain always on the lookout for the money-making opportunity, many of today’s entrepreneurs are simply people who find themselves drawn to customizing their career in a way that can’t be satisfied by any employer. A desire for the freedom to design their own path. Which brings me to my need to clarify what’s really required- and what’s not- when it comes to hanging out a shingle of your own.

To do your own thing…..

YOU REALLY DO NEED:

  • An understanding of the difference between a “lifestyle business” and a true “start up”. In this world of a-new-app-a-minute, some think that entrepreneurship means being the next Twitter. That’s one way to go. These businesses are true “start ups”, complete with a vision to scale it to the moon and a willingness to put in virtually unlimited effort to do so. A “lifestyle business”, on the other hand, is one in which you of course make money – hopefully a whole bunch of money – but your aim is to hit a healthy target, pay off your mortgage (or buy your boat) and enjoy life. At some point you won’t want to work more for more dollars. Both types of business can be extremely satisfying.
  • A willingness to meet new people. When on your own, no matter what kind of business you’re in, you’ll have to be a people person (or be good at faking it!) Whether your targets are investors, clients or strategic partners, I don’t know any successful entrepreneurs who hide out at their desk. That said, you don’t have to be a bubbly extrovert; it’s more about getting comfortable with your own style of relating to others. If this part makes you nervous, you might benefit from this from these tips for entrepreneurial introverts from Entrepreneur magazine.
  • A healthy target market. Someone’s gotta buy your goods or services. Make sure what you’re offering brings a benefit to a good chunk of people, and that it’s something they can’t – or don’t want to – do themselves.
  • A willingness to ask for help. Be prepared to reach out to your network and industry experts. Starting a business can be invigorating, but it can also be a slog at times. Learning from others can keep you from making those times harder on yourself than they have to be. Hiring a coach can also keep you focused, accountable and positive.
  • Personal support. Emotional backing is so important. Make sure you have one (or many) people who can encourage you and be a listening ear. If you live with a partner and/or have a family, it’s also important to understand what financial implication is tied to your venture and come to agreements about how money will be managed as you ramp up, and where the limits are. Literally, talk real dollars and timelines.
  • Resilience. Do you believe in the mantras “you get out of it what you put into it” and “failure is rich with learning”? If so, you probably have the natural resilience you need. And if you’re running low, check out the initiative, F***Up Nights (FUN): presentations from brave entrepreneurs who share failure stories and the associated learning for which they’re grateful. Or, just Google “failure stories”! You’ve had the right dose of inspiration when you can say to yourself (in the words of my coaching client on the cusp of taking the leap), “the worst that can happen is I’ll earn a badge of courage for trying.”

YOU ACTUALLY DON’T NEED….

  • A never-been-done-before idea, invention, or something “disruptive”. The world needs innovation, that’s for sure. But it’s not the only way to think about going out on your own. You can take something that works and make it better (which is, frankly, also innovation), you can jump into a market that has space for another player, or you can piggyback on something awesome that someone else has already started. (Also referred to as the first follower, described amusingly by Derek Sivers in his TED talk, How to start a movement.)
  • A huge appetite for risk. “Go big or go home” is not the only way. You can start something while still at your current job, or launch a service business with very little overhead. Michael Katchen, the 20-something founder of the wildly successful online financial robo-advisor Wealthsimple, started with only an Excel-based investment template for a few people in his personal network. From there, the seeds took root, and proved something worthwhile to put more in to.
  • A desire to work alone. Working alone doesn’t have to be lonely. You’ll be networking, perhaps collaborating on projects, taking courses, etc. You may opt to build a team around you. And if it’s not enough, create more opportunities to surround yourself with people. Recently, two entrepreneurial friends and I took our laptops to the lake, to enjoy a productive and social workday at the cottage. (Shout out to brilliant founders Amy Laski of Felicity PR and Nadia Sapiro of Throughline Strategy!)
  • A 20-page strategy. Sure, you need some sort of plan. And the more money you’re investing, the more detailed it should be. That said, you can get off the ground by identifying a “best case scenario”, what you think that would take, and where to start. Then you go from there. The bulk of the planning can be done once you’ve worked in the business for a few months and you can see how it might really play out. Don’t get stuck in solidifying every detail before you take action.

Got what you need? What’s stopping you?
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
– Chinese Proverb

 

 

 

 

Want to slack off? Permission granted.

Photo by: Michael Summers via Flickr

Even A+ professionals face times in their career where they just can’t stomach putting their all into work. It usually happens when something personal demands significant energy. And by “demands”, I mean, “jumps up and down and yells”- in order to break the trance of the hyper-focused over-achiever.

I’m reading a book called Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World after hearing the author, Joann Lublin, speak last week at the University of Toronto. I walked away from the event totally pumped, willing to be the Coach that launches her clients to their dreams. But I was reminded earlier this week that depending on your state of mind, Ms. Lublin’s message could be inspiring or exhausting. As a seasoned Wall Street Journal writer and editor, she spoke of persistence, innovative action and resilience as common characteristics of exceptionally successful women. I agree! Sometimes, though, we (men and women) just don’t have it in us.

The reminder came from a client, who told me a story about ending up in the hospital emergency room with her dear Mother, who was in the late stages of fighting cancer. After her Mother was admitted, this doting-daughter-ambitious-professional was undeniably distracted by the fact that she was a presenter in a Town Hall meeting the next day at work. Well prepared for it, she phoned a friend to get her thoughts on whether she should pop into the office to do her piece, and was met with “Are you crazy!?!” – a sentiment that matched her conscience exactly. It was sobering: she realized that her career was inconsequential in that moment. Caring for her Mother was her number one job.

We all appreciate that family, health and emotional wellbeing is paramount, but we sometimes forget. When faced with something that forces us to remember, be it illness, divorce, burnout, a new baby or an ultimatum from a neglected someone we love, it’s shocked into focus. Greedily, work has trouble sharing a top spot on a priority list. Some periods in our life, therefore, necessitate us demoting it. Not just for an evening, but more like a few months. The most dedicated of us would call this “slacking off”, while the majority would call it “more than good enough right now.”

Here’s an action plan for embarking on some short-term, justified slacking. (Because a go-getter always needs a plan!)

SLACK-SMART ACTION PLAN:

Start…

Putting [yourself/relevant loved one] first

Noticing feelings of guilt and consciously choosing a different way of thinking (Self-compassion? Responsibility? Pride?)

Breathing more deeply

Stop…

Giving away your recovery and recharging time

Worrying about where you’re getting to 

Continue…

Delivering good work

Relating to, and communicating with, your team

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Sounds a little scary, I know. But not as scary as ignoring your instincts. Perhaps there’s a reason you came across this post today. 😉

Set 8 Key Goals for 2017 (Yup, specifically 8. And yes, I know it’s almost March.)

U.S. Navy photo by Bill Austin/Released via Flickr

In honour of all of you whose new year’s resolution resolve has faded, this post is about a better way to set yourself up for success this year. Your life is multi-dimensional and your annual goals should be, too. We all know what happens when we say things like, “this is the year I lose 20 lbs!” Even if you stick with it and make it happen, it’s pretty wearing to make everything, the whole year through about a singular goal. There is so much more to who you are and who you’re striving to be.

It’s why I suggest to my clients that they create not one, but EIGHT goals to represent the various important areas of life. Below, I’ve described suggested “life categories”, and some questions that can help bring your aspirations into focus.

  1. Health

How do I want my body to feel by the end of 2017?

How do I want to feel about my body by the end of 2017?

In what way to I want to measure progress toward increased physical wellbeing?

  1. Fun and Recreation

What’s missing in my life in terms of FUN and PLAY?

What do I want to add (or add back) in this year to compliment other ways I spend my time?

  1. Personal Relationships (Friends, Family, Spouse)

How satisfied am I with the state of my key personal relationships?

What does a great relationship with [my spouse, my Mom, my buddy Paul] look like?

What tangible thing can I do to move us in that direction?

  1. Physical Environment

To what extent does my home, my city, my workplace setting bring me joy?

What’s the smallest change that could have the biggest impact here?

What’s the biggest change I could make and what would it take?

  1. Career

How am I defining career success for myself this year?

What am I wiling to do to get there and what are the most effective first steps?

What am I NOT willing to do?

  1. Money

What role will money play in my life this year?

What can I control when it comes to my money and how can I make peace with what I can’t control?

  1. Personal Growth & Learning

In 10 years’ time, what do I want to be very skilled at?

To what extent can I realistically enhance my capabilities or knowledge this year to support this longer-term target?

  1. Being (You’ll see where I’m going with this one…)

How do I want BE this year to support my success? (eg: positive, focused, grateful, easy on myself, etc.)

Find an official place to record your annual goals, and go for it. Since you got a little bit of a late start on 2017, set a reminder to check in half way, in August. But the most important question to consider in goal setting of any type is: Who will I ask to hold me accountable?