Retirement Transition Reading: Supercharged Retirement

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February 23, 2014 by Jean

Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You LoveIt’s probably not surprising, given my academic training, that my response to any approaching major life event is an extensive program of reading. That’s as true of retirement as of any other major change in my life; I’ve been reading about retirement for at least the past five years. My early reading was primarily scholarly research by sociologists and gerontologists, followed by work on retirement by psychologists. More recently, I’ve broadened my reading to include memoirs and other accounts of retirement written for a more general audience. One of these books was Mary Lloyd’s Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love (Hankfritz Press, 2009).

Lloyd’s book is part cautionary tale, part practical guide, and part workbook. In Chapter 1, she tells us that “My qualifications for writing this book rest on the monumental mess I’ve made of this process myself.” (p. 23) She goes on to explain that she “left work much too early (age 47) for noble reasons and with little planning” (p. 23) and that she fell into a serious depression after floundering for several years. Lloyd wants to spare others the same pain by sharing what she has learned from her mistakes.

Lloyd argues that the fundamental mistake people make in planning for retirement is to think about it as an ending – the ending of work and a regular paycheck – rather than as a new beginning:

‘Retirement’ is the wrong word altogether. ‘Retire’ per good old Webster’s is ‘to withdraw from action or danger….’

The point at which you are well enough off to give up a regular job and rely on the sources of income you’ve secured that don’t require your hours and days is not really ‘retirement.’ It’s just another graduation – like high school and college. Congratulations! You have met all the requirements to be allowed to move on to the next level of life. Like all graduations, this involves a commencement. A beginning. (pp. 14-15)

The ‘real prize’ of retirement, Lloyd explains, ‘is not the leisure. It’s the chance to begin again in a direction that reflects who you’ve become.’ (p. 10)

Lloyd assumes that you’re not the same person you were when you set off on a particular career path decades ago; you’ve grown and changed since then. Planning for a happy retirement involves getting in touch with the person you’ve become, and that’s what this book is all about. It’s designed to lead you through a process of self-discovery, and each chapter includes a set of workbook exercises designed with that purpose in mind. Some chapters have two versions of the exercises, one for those who have already retired and one for those who are contemplating retirement. Although the purpose of these exercises is serious, Lloyd recommends approaching them in a spirit of lightheartedness that will leave you more open to discovery. I didn’t do every exercise in every chapter, but I did most of them; and they did help me to discover new things about myself and to more clearly articulate things I already knew.

In the end, Lloyd tells us, planning for retirement is really about figuring out the answers to three questions:

What do I want more of in my life?

What do I want less of in my life?

How do I make that happen?

Mary Lloyd’s Supercharged Retirement has a lot to offer retirees and those who are contemplating retirement by helping them to answer these questions for themselves.

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8 thoughts on “Retirement Transition Reading: Supercharged Retirement

  1. Jean says:

    Those three questions are good to ask in my widowhood transition as well for retirement purposes. I can answer the first two and am still working on the last.

    You will probably be one of the best if not THEE best prepared retiree in America. It will be interesting, down the road, to see if you run into any surprises.

    • Jean says:

      Jean, I certainly hope I run into surprises! Life would be dull without them. Of course, we can only hope that most of our surprises will be pleasant ones. 😉

  2. As mentioned above, these are three good questions. Towards the entire of my professional career I was on call 24/7, attended too many meetings to count, sat on a nauseating amount of conference calls, and fended off stress like annoying flies. Now, most days I don’t wear a watch, never set the alarm, and just enjoy the lack of stress while pursuing things that I ‘want’ to do when I want to do them. I’m positive you’ll find your way – you’re way too organized to get lost in the process. 🙂

    • Jean says:

      Judy, Once when I was being evaluated at work, my department chair sat with a pile of my student course evaluations, reading critical comments and asking me how I would respond to them. When he got to a comment from one student that read, “The professor was disorganized,” I thought for a moment and then shrugged and said, “That kid was in someone else’s class!” 🙂 I will plead guilty to being overly organized at times, but never disorganized or unprepared. I’m hoping that all my preparation for retirement will smooth my transition.

  3. Well I may just read this. I have been working on some classes to answer these very questions. Contemplating this new path and will be writing more about it on the blog and maybe in my own memoir. It is much more complicated than I thought it might be. And right now I am not at all organized but going with the flow instead…it will be a wild ride.

  4. Jean,
    A book that I found useful post retirement for gardening was “Embroidered Ground” by Page Dickey. You might like it once you are retired and can get back to taking more time planning a post-retirement garden.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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