Patricia Gale June 22, 2018
I had a chance to interview the career coach Joan Tabb about her new book, Building Blocks for the New Retirement: An Easy, Interactive 8-Step Guide for a Retirement with Meaning, Purpose and Fun. The book, which I reviewed for this site, guides readers entering into retirement to find meaningful roles that allow them to give back.
What led you to write this book?
In my career and executive coaching practice I noticed my clients in their 50s and 60s starting to anticipate the end of their primary career life. They were filled with apprehension and fear. On the one hand they were excited for the freedom, but on the other they worried that with retirement would come a fading of their identity that had been wrapped up in their professions. They feared being on the outside of the mainstream, wondering what to do with their new unstructured time.
As a student of life stages and psychology my curiosity was piqued as I started to research the topic of retirement. It’s a relatively new phenomena and one that is rapidly changing due to increases in longevity and health. For most of human history people worked literally until the day they died—or were sick and infirm. When the U.S. started Social Security back in the 1940s, the retirement age was 65 but the average lifespan was 58! Just in the last decade or so we’ve seen a new occurrence with Baby Boomers, who still have vitality and healthy for decades beyond retirement.
Now, the retirement phase of life no longer fits. I’ve put a name to this new life stage: ReVitalment™ —meaning a time after the primary career years and before true old age. During ReVitalment™ people can be challenged to go beyond the bucket list and truly recreate a life of meaning, purpose and fun. My building blocks show them how.
What’s different today for retirees than in generations past?
Energy, health, vitality, longevity, aspirations…and now, Building Blocks—my guide to building a great ReVitalment™. Society’s expectations are also starting to change and we are seeing less ageism.
What’s the big take-away from your interviews with retirees when researching your book?
People think that they’re the only ones who feel limited and uncomfortable with the retirement life stage. They really want to do more and be more involved and useful. For years our society’s message was that you are done when you retire:
Congratulations and here’s your gold watch, now sit on your rocking chair and enjoy your memories and grandkids. Maybe play golf or cruise. But honestly, when they see that there are older people having very full, productive, meaningful lives, they get really excited and want that, too!
It’s my intention to activate people to be their best.
What are some areas that your 8-step guide explores?
First, how to look back at your essential self and identify the key drivers and interests that you naturally had as a kid. Maybe you were a bookworm, or loved the outdoors, or were very social. Our essential selves, according to the psychologist Carl Jung, really doesn’t change. Yet we move away from our essential selves due to life and societal or family pressures.
Then: What you’d like to extract from your career life. People think that once they retire they’re finished with all aspects of their work. But that needn’t be the case. Often there are aspects of the work they still enjoy and can bring to the world. For instance, a retired university administrator who was a sign-language interpreter earlier in life now does that part time. And a retired business executive is now teaching entrepreneurs as a business incubator.
Also, that your life force never retires. Now there’s time to explore your unfinished business emotionally, and even make changes and grow. A person who had two divorces wanted to go through therapy with the hopes of building a successful relationship in the future. Some people are interested in delving into spirituality or religion.
And where to look to uncover completely new areas of study or activities—from taking college courses to volunteering to becoming involved in politics. Getting involved in new ways makes us feel more alive and connected with others, and social connections are vital for remaining fulfilled as we age.
In a few words, the steps lead to inspiration…exhilaration…excitement…and becoming activated in order to take advantage of the opportunities in this ReVitalment™ stage of life. When we’re given the gift of time and health, we need to embrace it and use it to benefit ourselves, our families and friends, our communities and our world!