We are delighted to have Marika and Howard Stone with us today to discuss their book about how to rewire – 101 creative ways to put meaning into your life after retirement.
Nourishing Relationships: Howard and Marika, Too Young to Retire is both the title of your book and website. Tell us about how you came up with it?
Howard: It’s a phrase usually applied to professional athletes, but it popped into my head in the course of a coaching session. I was in my early 60s and knew I wanted to stop traveling the world for my publishing job. Yet, there I was, not ready for the proverbial endless vacation, but preparing for a new career as a coach. I thought a lot of guys my age were also ‘too young to retire,’ and could use some coaching to help them figure out what comes next.
Marika: We both thought it was a good description of the ‘down-aging’ we were observing, in ourselves and our friends, as we got into our 50s. Before that, we were mentally preparing for a pretty conventional retirement. But when we came face to face with it, we both said ‘whoa!’ A major contribution to this epiphany was seeing what retirement looked like during our visits to our second home in the Palm Springs area. It didn’t fit us. Shopping, decorating, early bird dinners, no way.
NR: Most Boomers today realize that the retirement of their parents won’t be theirs. Many want and will need to work, yet not everyone is completely happy about that. What is your take?
Howard: Baby boomers are probably the hardest working generation we’ve seen, so it would be completely natural most want a break. Our book recommends a sabbatical, some time-out when you get to relax and replensh yourself. A year, maybe 18 months, if you can afford it. Most people who come into their late 50s in good health will be ready to do something more valuable with their time than ‘rest and play.’ And that’s what we focus on. Helping them discover what that could be. We think work you enjoy is a great life extender.
NR: So, the second part of your title: 101 Ways to Start the Rest of Your Life speaks to that?
Marika: Exactly. One of the most fun things that happened after we launched our website, 2young2retire.com, in 1998, was that people started sending us their stories of reinvention and ‘second acts.’ We began to see that rather than life becoming smaller and more limited for people when they ended their primary careers, it could start to open up as they took some calculated risks and tried new things. Every one of the ideas we wrote about was drawn from a real story. And the truth is, there are way more than 101 ways to start the rest of your life.
NR: Both your book and the website are very upbeat and positive. They profile people who have made it to the other side, like the attorneys who started a B&B, or the naval officer who created a nonprofit for homeless kids. What do you have to offer those who are not there yet?
Marika: Glad you brought that up. Actually, each chapter of Too Young to Retire has a ‘Try This’ section with suggested small steps to take. We know from our own experience that transition from the security of the known world of work, colleagues, familiar routine, to something you have to invent, is challenging. Yet, there is no other choice but to move forward, as we see it. It takes time, effort, support from others, even an investment in training. But in later life, we have experience, contacts, resources in abundance, sometimes hiding in plain sight. I was practicing yoga for several years while contemplating my next career, then one day it just hit me: Why not train to teach what I loved to others?
Howard: I think we offer a sense of hope and uplift about the next phase of their lives. So much of what is written about older people is patronizing. It assumes that all we’re interest in is our entitlements and a life of ease. We think Boomers and beyond have way more going for them, and far more to offer to society. We are far from done. We are needed.
NR: Who would you say is your ideal reader?
Howard: People who know that retirement, in the sense that it has been understood, is over, and that they need to think and plan differently now. They may not have clear ideas of where they are headed, but they must be willing to tackle their money issues, if any, get as healthy as they can be, and approach the future as if they were new graduates. Because in some sense they are.
Our thanks to the Stones for a lively conversation and food for thought. Now, readers, it’s your turn. If you’re trying to find purpose post-retirement, Marika and Howard are here to share their sage advice. Just click on “comments” below on the right, type in your thoughts and follow the easy directions.