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In this third installment of The Retirement Roundtable, previous guests Michelle Pannor Silver (author of Retirement and Its Discontents, Ted Kaufman, and Bruce Hiland (co-authors of Retiring? Your Next Chapter Is about Much More Than Money) return to discuss the challenges of retirement – and the work it takes to prepare well to overcome them and create a fulfilling next chapter.
Dr. Michelle Pannor Silver
Michelle Pannor Silver is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and author of numerous studies on retirement and aging. Her book, Retirement and Its Discontents, draws from in-depth interviews she conducted with people whose departure from their life’s work meant losing a core and fundamental component of their personal identity. Her work calls attention to ageism and societal loss associated with retirement while highlighting the personal struggles that can be arise when there is a mismatch between one’s idealized retirement and the reality of giving up identity, income, and status. Michelle received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2010 and did her undergraduate and masters studies at the University of California Berkeley.
Ted Kaufman & Bruce Hiland – Co-authors of Retiring?: Your Next Chapter Is about Much More Than Money
Ted Kaufman is the former U S Senator from Delaware succeeding Senator Joseph Biden. He was Biden’s Chief of Staff for 19 years and headed up his 2020 Presidential Transition. He retired in 1995 and over the next 22 years taught courses at Duke University in the Law School, Fuqua School of Business, and Sanford School of Public Policy. At eighty-three, he and his wife, Lynne, celebrate their sixty-third anniversary this year.
Bruce Hiland’s entire career – Brown University, Navy officer, Wharton MBA, McKinsey, CAO at Time Inc., 20 years of CEO-level consulting, four startups and considerable community service – focused on the challenges and opportunities people experienced in their work life. With that history, focusing on the challenges of succeeding at retirement came naturally. Now eighty-one, he and Ginny, his wife/partner of fifty-eight years, enjoy their family, deal with aging and are harvesting the fruits of their labor.
For More on the Guests
Michelle Pannor Silver website
Retirement and Its Discontents: Why We Won’t Stop Working, Even If We Can
Retiring? website Retiring?: Your Next Chapter Is about Much More Than Money
(100% of proceeds are donated to charity)
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On the Challenges of Retirement
“There’s these great, airbrushed images that we see of retirees relaxing on the beach enjoying life to the fullest, finally having the free time to sit on a park bench and enjoy cruises, right? These are the very common images we see and the idea that we just have tons of leisure time to spend and do all these exciting things. And I think there’s a real disconnect that people often feel, particularly when and the work that they’ve dedicated their lives to suddenly is not part of their daily routine. And so the sense of reality that my days are no longer structured or are no longer connected to what gave me a sense of worth, whether that was a paycheck or the work that one was doing, or the sense of accomplishment and the sense of acknowledgement for the work that you did, those dissipate. And sometimes it dissipates very quickly, like literally the day that you retire. It can feel like a real loss in terms of personal identity, not just in terms of the structure or the clocking in aspect of it.”
On Changing the Rhythm of Life
“Nowadays people still expect people to retire in their sixties. It’s not the same way as when we were all working with corporations. And I find this next generation, 10, 15, 20 years younger than me, have a different approach. But the approach is that there’s kind of a time for you to retire, but even then you have a 15, 20 year expanse of life. The other point I’d make is that if you wait too long, we believe that one of the most important things to have to deal in retirement is to change in rhythm from work in these 24/ 7 environments and you’re on the go and the rest of it. Now, all of a sudden you gotta pull it down…One of the key things is you’ve got to change the rhythm of your life. And that is very hard. And the problem you got is the longer you wait, the harder it is to do. So you see many people who wait until 65, 70, 75… We look at ’em and say, [they] just waited too long. They can’t change the rhythm of life. They get up every day, [and think] I’m used to doing ten things today and I’m only doing two things today. They get depressed. The next thing you know, they’re gone.”
On the Opportunities Retirement Offers – and Doing the Work to Prepare
“All of a sudden you can make the decisions on how you use your time and what you do with your time. We start the book around getting it right in terms of your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul. I don’t care whether you’re retired or not. Those are areas that are worth attention, but somehow the change in work situation or the change in your time allocation gives you a marker so that you can stop, think and act – and stopping is an important part of it. What Ted and I are saying in the book is you’ve got to do the work. You gotta do the work. It’s not just talking about it. It’s not just sitting there flipping the pages. There are tough questions. You’ve got to work them out.”
“People do not realize how much hard work it’s going to take to get to where they want to be and how much they’re going to have to change. This is why Bruce and I wrote the book. People, for a lot of reasons, do not engage in the hard work to actually transform their life into a whole new area.”
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Intro and Outro voiceovers by Ross Huguet