ME: Slightly over a year ago, I reviewed this book. Today I find myself immersed in the concepts of purpose, positive aging, and am spending considerable time figuring out how I can contribute to our generational rewriting of “retirement”. I keep running into this book, as one of the essential resources for those interested in living a fuller and more meaningful live, right up to the last minute.
The post has been somewhat edited from the original, which posted on February 5, 2015, but my essential feeling remains the same: THIS BOOK IS READABLE, THOUGHTFUL AND VALUABLE.
Silly me … based on a cursory glance, I thought this book was about motivating employees to avoid firing or forcing them out.
Prepared to slog dutifully through the text, notating strong points to share intelligently about the author’s message, I found myself instead absorbed in the perspectives being shared, reading rapidly, with frequent stops for reflection and margin scribbling. This book engaged me on a very personal level.
Refire, Don’t Retire: Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life by Ken Blanchard and Morton Shaevitz is simply the right book with the right tone at the right time in the right place …
“To refire is to approach life with gusto. It’s to see each day as an opportunity for adventure and learning? It’s to infuse passion and zest into every area of your life – emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. Heart, head, body, and soul.” (pg. 9)
The authors understand clearly that “retirement age” does not mean what it has in the past for most of us. We want to continue to live significantly as conditions change around us and Blanchard and Shaevitz share four essential keys to help us do so:
FIRST KEY: REFIRING EMOTIONALLY:
“You can’t enrich your current relationships or forge new ones if you keep on doing the same things in the same ways.” (pg. 31)
This section is about energizing our emotional connections and the strength that flows from them. We know that change is essential to build strong emotional ties, but we are often prevented from changing because change involves risk. We have to become brave.
“Unless there’s a legitimate reasons to say no, you say yes! “ (pg. 41) says The Last-Minute Gang
This idea is the single most empowering concept in the book and challenging for many of us who have built comfortable and predictable lives. Blanchard and Shaevitz encourage us to break out and risk by doing things we might usually pass on.
This is especially effective when combined with the Nothing Ordinary rule:
“ …a commitment to uniqueness … not to choose anything ordinary.” (pg.50)
SECOND KEY: REFIRING INTELLECTUALLY:
This section touted the value of continued learning and the value of being a “lifelong learner”. One of my favorite “subtle” points made in this section on the value of learning:
“Growing intellectually is like oxygen to a deep-sea diver: without it, you die. If you’re not continuing to learn, you might as well lie down and let them throw the dirt on you, because you’re already brain dead.” (pg. 59)
THIRD KEY: REFIRING PHYSICALLY:
Personally I winced all the way through this section. I know what I should do around nutrition, sleep, and regular exercise, as well as flexibility, balance, and general strength. I used to do more, but now when the need is greater, I waver.
“… the minimally effective dose of exercise is walking five to six days a week, thirty to forty-give minutes a day.” (pg. 81) … at which point I put my computer in Sleep mode, changed clothes, and was out the door for almost 50 minutes of brisk walking.
“I suggest that you first stop eating and drinking mindlessly and begin eating and drinking mindfully.” (pg. 82) Of course, right before walking, I had just mindlessly swallowed several handfuls of left-over Christmas M&M’s … have to work on that mindfulness thing.
FOURTH KEY: REFIRING SPIRITUALLY:
Many confuse spirituality with religion and specific practices. True spirituality is much broader than the narrow definitions of formal religion. It starts with realizing that we are not in control:
“My epiphany was that I’m not totally responsible for things going well, nor am I totally at fault when things go wrong. Something’s going on that’s far great than what I can control.” (pg. 110)
I found three distinct reasons to find value in this narrative format book:
The book addresses remaining significant as we age and talks realistically about we deal with ALL aspects of our lives: “Heart, Head, Body, and Soul”. As we approach the last third of life, we need to consider all the aspects of our life and try to bring a sense of congruence to what we spend time doing. It’s not a random thing that the health centers, online medical sites, and exercise clubs are often crowded with people in the later part of their lives.
OUR ABILITY TO CHOOSE:
The point is repeatedly stressed that we are responsible for our choices and our responses to what life brings us. While we often may feel that we have little or no choice about what life deals us, we always control the ability to choose how to react, as many wise people have said over the years.
DEALING WITH SETBACKS:
Rather than mindlessly cheerleading, the authors also devote attention to the reality that setbacks and challenges will still come our way, even as we build our strengths.
As we age, we lose things and things change: We go from being employees to being retired or just not working, we face medical challenges of the body and the mind, we lose people dear and near to us, we no longer have the ability or maybe the interest in doing things that were one automatic or enjoyable … the list goes on.
But while our changes and losses affect us, they do not have to define us.
A small QUIBBLE:
The scenarios focused mostly on traditional married couples, but many enter the later stages of life without a long-time partner or in non-traditional relationships. I would have liked to have seen more relationship diversity here.
Bottom Line: Refire, Don’t Retire is readable, relatable, and relevant … a must read for anyone already in this stage of life or who may someday reach it.
“Still” looking forward with more hope than trepidation in the Heartland ….
Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book for review with no strings attached. However, I am very comfortable saying very positive things this book because it has true value for people at many different stages of life. You should be jealous of my good fortune.
Ken Blanchard, one of the most influential leadership experts in the world, is the co-author of the iconic bestseller, The One Minute Manager, and 60 other books whose combined sales total more than 21 million copies. His groundbreaking works have been translated into more than 42 languages and in 2005 he was inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 bestselling authors of all time.
Ken is also the co-founder and chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm that he and his wife, Margie Blanchard, began in 1979 in San Diego, California.
When he’s not writing or speaking, Ken also spends time teaching students in the Master of Science in Executive Leadership Program at the University of San Diego.
For more than three decades, Dr. Morton Shaevitz has been helping individuals and organizations to grow and change through his work as a clinician, author, consultant, and speaker. Much of his early career focused on gender issues at home and in the workplace. He and his wife Marjorie wrote Making It Together As A Two Career Couple, the first US book published in this area.
As a member of the Internal Medicine division at Scripps Clinic, he developed a number of behavioral health programs and his interest turned toward medical and geriatric psychology. He is currently the chair of the section of Geriatric Psychology for the California Psychological Association.
He has served as a member of the Leadership Advisory Council of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging and is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.