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Myths about Retirement – Part 2

In my last blog we talked about the importance of not buying into some of the myths about retirement that are just not true. If you buy into a myth, it can be difficult to see other possibilities that could make your life very different. You will make choices that make those myths become self-fulfilling prophesies.

Myth #1: “This is the beginning of the end and all I will do from here is decline.”

Myth #2: “Successful retirement just happens automatically”.

Here is Myth #3: “You have to get it right the first time.”

Who says so? Trial and error have always been keys to growth, innovation, and self-knowledge. If the choices you make in the beginning don’t turn out to be what you want, tweak them or try something else. Thomas Edison didn’t get the light bulb right the first time or even the 999th. When a reporter asked him, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Encore Tampa Bay is an organization that focuses on creating resources and pathways for boomer adults to explore options and retool for meaningful paid work or volunteer service in the second half of life. The founder and President, Bevan Gray-Rogel, describes the process of designing your new life as a trip. Like all roads,there are exits along the way. You may choose to get off at one of the exits to explore what is there. If it doesn’t work for you, get back on the road and try another exit. Some of the exits might take you to places where you can spend some time discovering what you really want. Another exit might be a stop to retool – learn some new skills for your journey ahead.

Mary Lou Williams is one of those people who is ageless. I have no idea how old she is but I know she has been retired for 23 years. She looks and acts like she is in her 60’s.

When Mary Lou was getting ready to retire from her long career as a high school English and Math teacher, she decided she wanted to be a nutritionist. She finished her masters and was working on her thesis when her husband died suddenly. Her tragic loss derailed her and she was never able to finish her thesis.

After moving to Florida to be near a friend, Mary Lou joined Toastmasters, an organization whose mission is to provide an environment where members can develop their speaking skills. She still wanted to teach people about healthy living and good nutrition and she thought Toastmasters would help her improve her workshops – and it did.

In the process, she began to learn about storytelling. It sparked an old interest that was lying dormant. Soon she found that people enjoyed her stories more than her lectures on nutrition. She began to study this old art form attending training and conferences where she learned that the old profession of storytelling was reemerging. She realized that maybe she could be a professional storyteller.

She started telling stories of all kinds at retirement communities and got rave reviews. She partnered with local art guilds to bring professional storytellers to her area. Interest in the community was growing. She started a Storytellers Roundtable and co-founded the Naples Storytelling Guild, a chapter of the Florida Storytellers Association, to provide other local storytellers with opportunities to practice their skills and get helpful feedback.

Then Mary Loupartnered with three other storytellers and they developed a repertoire of performances. Today the group is going into their third year performing at the local theaters and to sold out crowds at a local restaurant.

Storytelling became Mary Lou’s sense of purpose – her stories create emotion and help others enjoy their lives. I think that is part of her secret to being ageless.

There is no rule that says you only have one shot at getting retirement right. This time of your life is about figuring out what truly makes you happy and living your life so you enjoy every moment it. What makes you happy may change along the way. Like Mary Lou, you just have to pay attention to the opportunities that come along.

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