Are you facing a transition in your life? If yes, you might be interested in a new book I’ve just finished by a fellow blogger named Patricia West Doyle. Pat is the author of Retirement Transition—An Innovation Approach. And even though I’m not yet retired, I still found a few ideas in it that could prove valuable to others—especially those of us facing a transition. Of course, when you think about it transitions happen repeatedly to all of us over the course of our lives. So why not prepare before we’re in the middle of one?
First off, I never even knew there was such a thing as “An Innovation Approach” to anything. Yet, according to the author, this process is well-known in the business world. In fact, Pat used this strategy during her many years of working in corporate development. What is it? Simply put, it is finding and then utilizing the best processes available for forward momentum and change. When Pat decided to leave the working world a bit earlier than necessary, she realized that she needed some sort of forward focus to help make the change of her transition go smoothly. That’s where “An Innovation Approach” fit into her plan.
Make no mistake, Pat is a planner and her approach to retirement fits that description well. As she says, “Post-work life did not just happen. I had to ‘do the work’ to create a new life plan…” I also appreciated her honesty by admitting that a plan was critical for her, “…because I was an expert on how to work, but I wasn’t very sure about how to live a life.” I wonder how many other people find themselves adrift like that after a long and productive work life? I’d bet that this book would be especially valuable to anyone in in a similar position.
In addition, in true SMART Living fashion Pat goes on to say, “I had to learn that it’s less about what I want to do (having a plethora of activities booked) and more about who I want to be (understanding what’s truly important to me).” And for her, the best way seemed to be to begin visioning, planning, refining her vision and self-discovery. Of course, from my perspective, those actions would be helpful to us all at every stage of life. Fortunately, Pat doesn’t just offer that and leave us there, she then breaks down those steps and walks us through them.
If you are a planner like I am, then you’ll probably be familiar with many of the other terms and even the processes she recommends in this book. Additionally, she suggests quite a few exercises to do as you read along. Of course, if you’re also like me you might skip on ahead without doing them. Even then, I managed to take good notes and found a couple of nuggets that I want to remember.
Of particular is an action step called “Jolts of Joy”. The idea is to “identify the little things in your life that bring you joy.” Everything from what makes you laugh out loud consistently to things that bring a smile to your face or “warmth” to your heart. For example, one for me is watching my dog Kloe run free on the beach. Just watching her happy face makes me laugh. Pat recommends that we make a long list of items that we could call our personal Jolts of Joy, and then incorporate them as much as possible in every single day.
Like me, Pat is convinced that we all have the ability to create “happiness by design.” How do we do that? According to Pat, happiness theory suggests that there are actually three levels to happiness. The first level is the most sensual and comes from doing activities that stimulate pleasure, fun or enjoyment in our lives. The second level of happiness comes from utilizing our strengths, skills, or talents for our self, or others. The final level is when our actions or activities engage with our core values and help us to feel part of something bigger than ourselves alone. When our actions blend those three levels we achieve maximum happiness. Who doesn’t want that? Of course, in order to do that we have to KNOW what it is that brings us joy, what our skills (talents) are, and most especially what are our core values. Self-discovery is a key.
I’ve written about values and know several of them, but something about the way Pat presented them really helped me get clear about one I had never recognized before. That core value, for me, is achievement.
At first I overlooked it. She lumped that value together with winning, promotion, ambition, competition, etc. And because I don’t consider myself competitive, I barely glanced at that category. Then Pat took it further by listing a series of “Value statements” and then tying those statements with each corresponding value. When I saw the statement, “I like the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a task or a project,” it hit me. Like a bolt of lightning it was instantly clear to me that much of my motivation in life is taking on projects, and then seeing them through to completion.
It shouldn’t have been a mystery because when I look back and attempt to explain why this blog or my books are important to me—there it is. I get great satisfaction out of staying on schedule with my blog, finishing my books, and keeping up with my commitments (even if they are just for myself.) Don’t believe me? Just read my previous blog post, “Why Good Enough & Done Is Better Than Perfect.” And although I do like it when people tell me my work is helpful or interesting, the more important element is always the sense of completion I get once I’ve “achieved” my goal.
It’s funny how one simple idea like that can stick with you for days. Ever since realizing how important achievement is to me, I have gone back and noticed how many times in my life that particular motivation has guided me. Just knowing that, I feel I am better prepared to create “happiness by design” in my future. Pat’s list (and corresponding statements) just might be what you need to find some of your core values—and prepare for your future.
Pat includes quite a few more exercises, lists and suggestions in this small book. It really doesn’t take that long to read and I am sure it would be helpful for anyone who is interested in #1 Learning more about themselves and, #2 Discovering tools to help them move ahead in the future. I would have preferred a few more personal stories to fill out the examples because it does get a bit technical and linear. But as I’ve said before, one GOOD idea from a book is worth the cover price. As usual, the SMART approach is to be constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the quality of our lives—before, during, or in retirement.