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Don’t Just Retire… Rewire!

Jeri Sedlar, Don't Retire, Rewire

With Jeri Sedlar, Motivational Speaker, Co-Author of Don’t Retire, REWIRE!

Author and retirement expert Jeri Sedlar joined Steve in the studio to continue this week’s retirement theme. Jeri is the co-author, with her husband Rick Miners, of the book Don’t Retire, Rewire, which aims to guide people in making the most of their retired years. Jeri has been writing about retirement for 15 years, and it was fascinating to get her perspective on this important subject.

Thinking Differently

It is natural to view retirement as the end of our career-oriented lives—a time to disconnect from what we’ve been doing for most of our working lives—but Jeri wants us to think about retirement differently. There is a tendency to view retirement as an end, but Jeri believes we should instead rewire and channel our energies into new, varied, and exciting endeavors. Retirement is the ideal period in our lives to spend more time with family, do some volunteer work, or perhaps start an entirely new hobby or pastime. This attitude helps us change retirement from trepidation to excitement and an opportunity to venture into unexplored territories.

For example, Sherry Lansing, the former chair of Paramount Pictures, ended her 40-year career in Hollywood and redirected her attention to cancer research.  Lansing was able to launch a foundation that continues to fund cancer and stem-cell research which made her feel young and curious all over again.

Major Motivations

Jeri also engaged in research with a wide variety of workers across multiple demographics and found that people’s motivation for working differed vastly. In fact, she found as many as 85 different factors! Jeri therefore asserts that it’s vital to understand what she describes as our “drivers” and to build out retirement around these defining facets of who we are as people.

Jeri also advocates doing different things in order to make retirement as interesting and varied as possible. Retirement is a chance to get out of the same old routine and push the boundaries of possibility. So don’t waste this opportunity!

Time To Rewire

Overall, Jeri brought some fascinating concepts and views to the table. The overarching idea of retirement as a time to rewire and do things that give you happiness and satisfaction is particularly valuable. There is also the chance to help society along the way, and that can only be a good thing for all of us.

Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital.  Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions.  Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances.  The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.

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Steve Pomeranz: A recent article in The New York Times caught my attention. It was a discussion of how some people coming off successful careers were using their skills to move into the next chapter of their lives. My guest, Jeri Sedlar, was quoted in the article, and we’ve reached out to her to give us some insight into these issues. She is also the co-author with her husband Rick Miners of the book Don’t Retire, Rewire, and has been thinking about this and writing about this for over 15 years. Hey, Jeri, welcome to the show.

Jeri Sedlar: Hey, good to be here.

Steve Pomeranz: So let’s get this frame from the very beginning. You have written, retiring is a going from and rewiring is a going to.

Jeri Sedlar: So let me explain what we mean by that. I think that a lot of people in the past used to think that retirement was the end. And we just want to get the point across to people, it’s the end of maybe a traditional work. Maybe your practice, your business, but you’re still going to have energy running through your veins. So you need to put that into new or different activities. So that’s the idea that you retire from, let’s call it your organization, your business, but you rewire to. And that’s where we really help people show how to fill in the blanks on that one. It could be new work, it could be volunteering, it could be fun and activities, more with family. But it’s really the idea about rerouting that energy into new things; that it’s not an end, but it’s really a beginning.

Steve Pomeranz: Well, everybody is going to have their own path. And it is going to be a period marked by some type of dislocation as you try to transition from one life to another. What are some tools that people can use in order to make this transition as effective as possible?

Jeri Sedlar: Well, first, Steve, I want to capitalize and leverage what you just said. It is a change. You’re going to feel disconnected, you’re going to feel disengaged. And the more that you understand that up front and just go, oh, this is normal, that, I think, is a very healthy way of looking at the future, to begin with, so that’s the first thing. I think the second thing is we really advocate that people start thinking about this before they find themselves just thrust into this thing, whether you call it your retirement, your next act. But one of the realities is that through all of our work, we realize that this is the life stage you really need to know yourself. You need to have self-awareness.

And you need to know what we call, what makes you tick, or what really drives you. Because as much as you said, kind of it’s a journey, it’s a path. The truth is, it’s going to be your journey and your path. There’s not as much of a framework as the first part of our lives. There was more of a what I’m going to call the trigger points. This one is kind of an open territory. And for some, boy, that is so exciting. And for others, it is so frightening.

Steve Pomeranz: When anybody starts out in a career—and many of us will remember this—there’s a lot of failure associated with it. You’re learning the ropes and you’re young, so you don’t really think about failure too much. You just kind of forge ahead, and then you find yourself. Isn’t there this idea that you’re going into this new territory, but you have to be willing to risk failure in the beginning?

Jeri Sedlar: Yes, and that is one of the biggest things that people, audiences have said to just, well, I don’t want to make a mistake. We’ve been taught throughout life we shouldn’t make mistakes and have failures. And first, you got to get over that because when people will say, tell me about what you failed at, what didn’t work out? And the people say, well, really nothing, and I’ll say, then you haven’t tried enough because this is, quote-unquote, supposed to be that life stage where you can begin to experiment, that you can try some things. And the words that we say is we want you to be curious, and then have the courage to begin to execute on some of those new interests or ideas.

It’s a funny line, I love to say it, “this is life, let the kite out.” Just have the guts to explore, within reason, Steve. [LAUGH] I mean, but this is the stage where I want people to say, wait a minute, if I could do anything, what might it be? But not everybody has an answer to that initially. So we always say you’ve got to try and put some ideas out there in your own head before you try to explore them in life.

Steve Pomeranz: Jeri Sedlar is my guest, she’s the co-author with her husband Rick Miners of the book Don’t Retire, Rewire. One of the key points to your book is, you ask yourself what really drives you? Why do you really work? And I think discovering that is part of this process, what does that mean?

Jeri Sedlar: I’d say it’s almost the most important thing because people normally would say, well, what do you want to do? And it would just be about the activity or the idea. But we went and we did this major piece of research to ask people across the country—ages at that time, 37 to 78—why do you or did you work beyond a paycheck beyond the money? And unsolicited, we got back 85 reasons. Now some of them duplicated themselves a little bit, but some people said, yeah, to belong. Others said, I want to be creative, and some said, hey, problem-solving. Then some people honestly said I like the power, I like being a leader.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, you like the idea of having your own way.

Jeri Sedlar: Right, I like the recognition, I like to be valued. And that’s where the power is, Steve. If people can take the time, as we do in the book, to go through these, and to really get down to your top drivers, and we help people through this because many people, they get to a certain stage of life—55, 60, 60, even much younger—they don’t really know what turns them on. And the reason it’s so important to understand your drivers and identify them is it’s a way to know yourself.

So when you’re looking for those new activities, when you are rewiring, too, you can have a better idea, even when it comes to something like volunteering. You want to be hands-on working in the soup kitchen because you’re that kind of a person and that’s what drives you? Or would you really rather be on the board of an organization that supports the food kitchen? Really important to know that because that’s where people make the mistakes that they don’t know, wow, that was really important to me.

Steve Pomeranz: I think a lot of people when they’re working think about retirement, and what they would be doing. And we have this very simplistic view, I’m going to play golf all the time. I’m going to sit on the beach, I’m not going to have to worry about this client, or that whatever. Yet, when it really comes down to it, it’s almost like you can be in panic mode. And it’s time to start thinking about what is it in this limited time left—now limited time, I only mean to say is that we’re all mortal. What are my dreams? What further things do I want to accomplish? Or what do I want to satisfy myself with or the people that I love in order to live a full, rich life? How do we get there?

Jeri Sedlar: Okay, so those are, actually, what you’ve touched, are exercises. We always hear, well, one day—this is the time to get the notepad, to do whatever, and to begin to write down what were some of those dreams. One day, I will, or if I only had five years, what would it be? Or what’s on your bucket list? So a lot of these things are out there, and those are very important. But one of the things we challenge people to is to take a look back. What were some of the things that you accomplished, that I want more of those, that felt really good? So we said, what were you doing at the time? Who were you with? Because your audience, your group is really important too, because this really is the beginning of a process. What we want people against is, don’t necessarily eavesdrop off of your best friend’s life. Because even though you may be close friends, you may have very different interests, different needs, different financial resources.

So there is a part of this journey that we want you to begin on your own. And if you’re a couple, begin on your own as individuals, and then come together because you want to make sure that you’re on the same page. And that’s where we’ve seen a fair amount of problems, that through the years, couples haven’t always communicated. So now they get to this life stage, and it’s like, wow, they’re at two different places. You can get on the same page, but you really have to have the guts—I’m going to say again—and the courage to put your ideas out there. And to say, if I only have X number of what I’m going to call good years left, where do I want to go? What do I still want to see? What will I be bummed about if I don’t accomplish?

Steve Pomeranz: And Jeri, you have a blog, and I was reading through it, and there was a small piece about someone who was…there’s a picture of someone fly fishing.

Jeri Sedlar: Mm-hm.

Steve Pomeranz: And so we’re not really talking about necessarily you must accomplish great things in the rest of the time that you have left. We’re really, we can be talking about the simplest of passions. Give us some idea of what some typical passions people have.

Jeri Sedlar: I’m going to pick up on something because we’re working on this blog. And that is there are things called, what I call, big Ps and little ps. And that is the word purpose, as well as to the word passion. We hear people saying I need a new purpose, but that purpose can be learning to fly fish. For somebody else, that purpose may be I’m going to save the world. That’s what we mean about this is a very, the Internet in a very unique life stage. The fly fishing, it’s an interesting, what I will say that this is a situation where somebody really didn’t know. Do we really want to do something like this? Let’s try it, and in these situations, we say please take a lesson or two. Because if you really just try to learn something on your own, sometimes you don’t grasp that quickly.

And even that 50-plus brain does need maybe a little bit of a different way to get engaged. But not everybody has the passion. So we go, take a small idea, take a little interest. And all of a sudden, if you put some time, effort, energy, and money behind it, that very small interest can flourish into a much bigger idea. But where we see the problem is that people will go, and they’re looking for the immediate passion idea right in front of them. And I don’t really think that happens for that great a percentage of people. So I think you have to do some looking around a little bit. But somebody just said they’re leaving their job, and know where they are from a financial standpoint. But they really said we really want to just have the time to explore.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.

Jeri Sedlar: Do different things and continuous learning is their hot button. So they want to get involved with Rhodes Scholars, which is an organization They want to all of a sudden maybe go over to Europe and learn things. And they said, oh, we’re just going to do different things online as a beginning point.

Steve Pomeranz: We’re unfortunately out of time, but I think the basic idea is go back to what it was like when you started your professional life. Remember all the times you skipped from job to job, you tried certain things until you found something that you could sink your teeth into. Don’t be worried about failure; failure is part of it, but just get started. The book is Don’t Retire, Rewire. My guest is Jeri Sedlar, she is the co-author. And Jeri, how do people get to you on the Internet to follow you?

Jeri Sedlar: I think the easiest, I’ll just give my email here, it is Jsedlar@dontretirerewire.com, no punctuation. And I’d love to hear from audiences and readers, and I’d love to hear from your group.

Steve Pomeranz: And we’ll also have a link on our website, so don’t forget you can join the conversation at stevepomeranz.com. Thank you so much for your time, Jeri.

Jeri Sedlar: Thank you, Steve.