by Joe Casey
The best retirement gifts aren’t the most obvious ones. Thinking about the special gifts you’ve personally received over the years just might lead you to find the best retirement gift ever.
One of the greatest gifts I ever received came from my mother. My grandfather was the Fire Chief in my hometown north of Boston and I spent a lot of time at the main firehouse. Right across the street was our public library. Since hanging out too long at the firehouse was probably dangerous, my mother took me to the library frequently from a very young age. It opened up a whole new world. It gave me a love of reading that continues to this day.
As a child, I had an Aunt who gave all six of us children the same gift each year. Underwear. Growing up in a low-income family, she decided it was best to give us something useful. I appreciate it now as an adult, but as a child, I rolled my eyes, said Thank You, with as much polite enthusiasm as I could muster, and prayed hard that next year she’d give me a great book instead.
Let’s face it. It’s hard to come up with a unique gift for someone who’s retiring. And with some people, it’s easy to default to auto-pilot. But before you buy a retiring co-worker a version of the gift you gave someone at that retirement party last year (and maybe one the year before, too…) consider something different. If you’re searching for just the right gift for someone, you can’t go wrong with the gift of knowledge.
I am grateful for the opportunity to talk with authors on our podcast The Retirement Conversation. Their insights are gifts to us at Retirement Wisdom and to our audience.
Here’s Retirement Wisdom’s guide to selecting the best retirement gift for someone you care about:
Well, we all are. The author, Alan Castel, who’s 43, told us that he wrote the book so that people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond can learn more about what they can do now to achieve Successful Aging. His book was named as one of the six best books on Aging Well in 2018 by The Wall Street Journal. Dr. Castel, a psychology professor at UCLA, shares lessons from research and his personal interviews of notable and interesting people. It reminds us of practical things we can do now to position us to indeed be better with age. There’s more in our control than we may think.
by Alan Castel
Some people believe that learning stopped with their formal education. Yet many others continue to seek education and personal growth throughout their lives. If you know someone in that camp, they’ll benefit from this book by a retired Princeton University professor. Nell Painter is a distinguished scholar and author, who returned to school to pursue art in later life. She first returned for a Bachelor’s and then continued on to earn an MFA. Her gripping story is an inspiring read on imagination and resilience. (Her advice to listeners on our podcast is to start small and take a course in something you’ve always been interested in). Dr. Painter’s book was also one of six named as one of the six best books on Aging Well in 2018 by The Wall Street Journal.
by Nell Painter
It’s funny, but the benefits of work – beyond a paycheck – can be taken for granted. Transitioning to retirement can highlight their absence and lead to a search for ways to replace some of them, such as purpose and meaning.
While there are countless books on happiness, this book, by Emily Esfahani Smith, illustrates that while happiness is fleeting, purpose and meaning are longer lasting. If someone on your list is looking to find a deeper meaning or rediscover their purpose, this book is a special gift.
by Emily Esfahani Smith
For many people, retiring doesn’t mean the end of work. Some look for part-time work, such as consulting, to keep their hand in the game. But others, especially those in early retirement, contemplate becoming their own boss. While it’s unwise to invest retirement savings in a start-up business, it is wise to evaluate if entrepreneurship is a good fit. To gauge if that, there’s a free Entrepreneurial You self-assessment.
If someone you know is thinking about starting their own business (at any age), Dorie Clark’s book offers invaluable tips and advice on how to make a successful transition and thrive as an entrepreneur.
by Dorie Clark
Retirement and aging are simply not what they used to be. While retirements last much longer than they used to, there are no longer clear roadmaps or even role models. Each person needs to define their own path, and that presents opportunities and challenges alike. And women face a variety of different challenges than men do.
Women in your life who are in or near the retirement phase of life will find inspiration and useful guidance based on the lives of the women profiled in this book. Their stories will resonate as the authors draw out lessons learned (with a great sense of humor) that will help anyone craft their own path in their next chapter.
by Thelma Reese and Barbara M. Fleisher
Doesn’t it seem that everyone is busier than ever? And that includes some people in retirement who fall into the trap of what our podcast guest Dr. David Ekerdt calls “busy-bragging”. It’s easy to get caught up in doing more and more, at a faster and faster clip – until you hit a wall or lose sight of what matters most.
Yvonne Tally’s book offers practical solutions and sensible approaches to help regain a sense of control and focus on what’s truly most important. While it’s geared toward mid-career working women, we found it to also be relevant for those nearing or in retirement.
by Yvonne Tally
While women face a host of unique challenges in retirement and later life, men grapple with a different set of issues. And their transition to retirement comes with surprises. Many men over-invest in their work. When they move to retirement it can be a shock to discover how much of their identity and purpose are tied to work. Many men also fail to invest time in cultivating the level of social relationships and support that many women do. They can feel isolated when professionally-based relationships begin to return calls or answer emails more slowly – or not at all. (And sometimes we male types prefer to figure things out by ourselves, which can take much longer. If you’re of a certain age, like me, you may remember how some of us refused to stop and ask for directions pre-Google Maps).
The authors of The New Senior Woman wrote this book as a follow up due to the volume of requests they received to write about men and retirement. (My favorite chapter asks if you’re ready to “Man Up” in retirement). Using the same methodology as in their first book, the authors delve into the lives of men who’ve transitioned to retirement and cull out valuable tips from their stories. If you have men in your life who prefer to figure out things by themselves (the hard way), this book can give them useful lessons to leverage in their next chapter.
by Thelma Reese and Barbara M. Fleisher
Do you know someone who’s preparing to retire or a little stuck in retirement? The author of this book is a retired lawyer who spent two years interviewing 46 retirees from various walks of life. Their experiences provide rich lessons and ideas that can spur new activities, pursuits or direction in retirement. Learning from those who’ve gone before can save a great deal of time going down the wrong road. Reading about the dreams they are pursuing in retirement can light the way forward in one of life’s most important transitions. A bit of wisdom goes a long way.
by Brendan Hare
Just the right book can truly inspire someone to discover how to retire well and take charge of their next chapter. And that is a special gift indeed.
Joe Casey is a former senior HR executive, who is in his Second Act career as a retirement coach, helping others design their life in retirement. He is the co-host of The Retirement Conversation podcast.