Archive for the ‘Retirement Planning’ Category

Retirement – writing the next chapter

March 6, 2012
  • What’s the plan?
  • What’s the daydream?
  • What’s on the bucket list?

However you look at it, there will come a time when you have choices to make about how you spend your time.  Golf, the grandkids, camping… that may work for you.  But for many, work in some form will continue.
Let’s grant that money will still be a concern and a need (see previous post).  But what about the rest?
Do you have a foreign language skill to dust off and update?
Is there a book in you?
How about a yard to landscape?
Or an immigrant community who needs an English teacher?
I have neighbors who retired from federal jobs and are still very active in their agency’s theater group.  You see them carrying props across the yard, coming and going at unpredictable hours.  Almost too busy to talk, but I see enough of them to know that they are happy being creative and hanging around with like-minded people.
What’s your story?  Your daydream or reality?  Feel free to post a comment.  And then please listen to The Career Clinic on Sunday, March 18, 5:00 p.m. eastern time, at for a chat between host Maureen Anderson and me on retirement options and opportunities.  Maybe your story will be part of the show!

Help wanted!

March 4, 2012

Retirement- what is on your mind?

I’m soliciting ideas, thoughts, concerns, and stories about retirement – yours or anyone you know.  I’ve been invited to be a guest on The Career Clinic, a weekly show of interviews about careers – yours, mine, anyone else’s.  The show’s host, Maureen Anderson, has a dazzling ability to find interesting stories about people doing amazing things, mostly those doing exactly what they want to do and getting paid for it.  If you are not now a regular listener, you should think about it.

First stop – their website,  There you will find podcasts of previous shows, a schedule of upcoming speakers, and Maureen’s pithy and articulate blog, in which she shares thoughts while deliberately not taking up a lot of your time.

Now, about this retirement topic.  You’re invited to listen to the show from 5 to 6pm eastern time on Sunday, March 18th, at

But first, help me out.  Here’s the first question:  What worries you the most about retirement?

Please add a comment below, or get in touch with me for a longer conversation (

More on Mushrooming and how to avoid it

January 6, 2012

Here are a few more thoughts by Katherine Coram, a newly-retired federal worker, who is writing on time management issues.  She shares a few suggestions on how to avoid the time-waster of exaggerating the demands of what you are doing:

  • Think about how much time the activity really requires and allow it that in your daily schedule. 
  • Limit how much time you put into an activity based on its value and whether you are actually accomplishing what you are trying for. You can always quit a household task or a writing session in the middle.
  • Try to schedule several activities for one trip out of the house.
  • If you have something scheduled, plan something else for before and after.
  • Above all, keep your sense of proportion.  Remember, most mushrooming takes place in your own mind. Ask yourself regularly;  is this worth the time I am putting into it? How can I change?

Remember. Maybe for the first time in your life–this is YOUR Time.

Thank you, Katherine.  I hope you’ll share other insights on time management with us on this blog.

Warning for the new retiree – Beware of Mushrooming!

January 5, 2012

Today it is my pleasure to offer you some wisdom from a recently-retired colleague, Katherine Coram.  She is reflecting and writing on aspects of successful retirement, and herewith presents a suggestion for you:

Beware of “mushrooming”—the tendency of minor time commitments to take up a whole lot more time  and attention than they deserve.

A doctor’s appointment, shopping trip, social engagement or volunteer commitment that you would previously have squeezed in can become a full-day focus. I teach a one hour class, but I manage to put most of the day into preparing for it, getting dressed, and feeling virtuous afterward.

Activities around the house can mushroom too, especially since housecleaning and yard work DO take us more time.

If you decide to do a part time job or consult or freelance, it can easily take up as much of your time and energy as your full-time job did.

You can even fall into preparing a couple days ahead for an activity that doesn’t require it. A friend told me about  her mother focusing much of her week on the day she had to take out the trash.

If you would have ideas on mushrooming or would like to read more of my thoughts on time management in retirement, please email me at

Katherine Coram is a former Federal employee, who is still trying to work out this retirement thing.

Thank you, Katherine.  I had not heard the term mushrooming as an aspect of time management.   Does anyone out there identify with the temptation of filling a day with a small matter?

Next:  how to avoid the mushrooming phenomenon.

2012: What’s a Career Counselor to Do?

January 3, 2012

Happy New Year to you.  Are you taking stock, making plans, setting goals?  This year, I’m skipping that usual stuff about losing 10 pounds, de-cluttering the basement, putting more time in the garden.  Maybe those things will happen, maybe not.

I’m excited to share the following plans with you, and ask your help in holding me to them:

  • Create more book reviews of works that may be useful to career changers/seekers,
  • Write more blog postings focusing on the good news of the economic recovery, including success stories,
  • Make presentations on how to get and how to leave jobs,
  • Assist my clients in establishing more effective networks of their own.
  • Continue to accept new clients into my practice until April 1, after which time I will only make appointments with existing clients.

About that last point; the time has come to wind down my private practice.  I will not stop working with the wonderful people I already have or that I may meet during the first quarter of 2012.  This is a  difficult decision, because I love being part of people’s stories and walking with them on their journeys for a brief time.  And it will be hard to say no.

If you have thoughts on successfully transitioning into retirement, I’d love to hear them.

Fast Forward 10 years: how you’ll look back

February 14, 2011

Previously, I suggested that you look back ten years and have a brief conversation with yourself about your work, your hopes, your worries.

What about going the other direction?  How about a peek into the future?

  • How old are you?
  • Will you be doing the same things?
  • What will you have accomplished since 2011?

I hope I’ll be taking my observations about people and their work dilemmas and doing more writing.  Blogging?  Well, yes, unless it has morphed into something else.  And maybe a book in whatever form books will come in.  Right now, I have ideas, notes, and interviews.  Maybe that’s like making deposits in a retirement account to be withdrawn when you need the money.

What about you?  How will you look back on 2011?

A backward look at your career

February 13, 2011
It has been suggested by wordpress that some of us bloggers in the 2011 challenge tackle the topic of your life ten years ago.  If you could go back and have a brief conversation with that younger self, what would you say?  Here’s a start:
  • How old were you?
  • Where were you?
  • What were you earning?
  • What were your biggest worries?
  • What were your hopes?

I was doing pretty much the same work I’m doing now, only in a more optimistic environment.  People got jobs after duly working at it.  We cautioned them that it might take several months.  And a salary increase was not out of the question.

Here’s what I worried about:  clutter in the house, lackluster grass growing in the yard, losing a few pounds, saving more for retirement, staying abreast of technology.

Well, gee, that list looks familiar.

I would go back to that person and say to worry less, enjoy life more.  Enjoy that toddler grandchild as much as possible because he, too, grows up faster than you’d believe.

Then there’s technology.  I would counsel that I’ll always be a bit behind just because…but I can keep advancing at my pace.

And I’d say that when the word blogging comes up, pay close attention and jump into it.

Next: looking ahead ten years.

A key to economic recovery

August 18, 2010

Reluctant to retire?  Staying longer than you expected on the job?

You may hold one of the keys to our economic recovery.  According to a discussion at the Maryland Career Development Association, we all know people who are working longer than they ever planned to.  This creates a bottleneck, blocking lower-level employees from moving up, and ultimately blocking the company from hiring new folks.  The much-touted phrase “job creation” might be restated as “job clearing”.

And Dave Terkanian of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, says that a large percentage of job openings comes from replacement hiring.  When people don’t leave, that kind of hiring doesn’t happen, thus bringing our growth to a halt.

Still, it’s important to look at why people are working longer:

  • Money: They may be supporting other family members who are unemployed.  They may not have a pension waiting for them and have recently realized that their savings are inadequate.
  • Insecurity: These are worrisome times.  There is unease in the air, everyone is talking about the economy, some predict further collapse.

I don’t know the solution.  Maybe if we focused more on the momentum that already exists in some areas, those with financial security (by that I mean the folks with pensions and savings) could follow through on their retirement plans.  And momentum could continue to build. New jobs would follow.

One thing I learned from this discussion is that economic recovery is so multi-faceted that we can’t be expected to see the whole picture.  My piece of it is to assist people with their planning, whether how to get into the workplace, how to move around within the workplace, or when and how to get out of the workplace.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this complex issue.

Enthusiasm: more revealing than you think!

August 19, 2008

Did you catch President George W. Bush being interviewed by NBC’s Bob Costas at the Olympics in Beijing?

I did, and was reminded of how passionate interests can add sparkle and energy to one’s whole presentation. This man clearly loves athletes and sports. During the interview, he was knowledgeable and chatted easily with the commentator on all aspects of swimming, basketball and beach volleyball. Leaning toward Costas, he laughed easily and looked like a happy man, willing to discuss his youthful years spent in China, riding a bike around the city of Beijing.

If this man were my career client, I would be asking him to describe the last time he was truly happy, and I fantasize that he would mention going to China to watch the Olympics.

Facial expressions don’t lie for long. It’s tiring to force yourself into an interest in something or someone for very long. You can find your true career path by identifying what you really care about. If you don’t know, ask a trusted friend to tell you:

  • when your voice reveals a surge of energy,
  • when your eyes light up with excitement or interest,
  • when positive feedback is particularly well-received,
  • when you say you wish (……) had gone on longer.

I have no idea if George Bush enjoys being the chief executive of the United States. I do believe, however, that he cares deeply about competitive games, and I hope he includes some involvement in sports as his life takes a new direction. Enthusiasm is a powerful career guide.

As all those people the age of Mr. Bush face retirement, I hope they remember that now is the time to move toward areas of passion and commitment, bringing those skills accumulated in jobs that they did/did not get excited about. In the next round of job interviews, remember what it looks like to speak with enthusiasm and energy.

If you would like to discuss finding your enthusiasm and/or letting it point the way to a more satisfying career direction, please visit my website at for contact information. This can be a very exciting process for you.

The Mind of the Job-hunter: Open? Closed? Both!

July 3, 2008

Have you ever noticed the conflicting information in those shelves of career books?

Career specialists frequently say at least one of the following:

  • You should know what you want. You have undergone an analysis of your strengths, skills and experience. You don’t have to settle. Know what you are looking for, communicate this clearly, and you will find it.
  • Be open to the possibilities. Yes, you have an idea of what you want, but other people know what is out there. And they may see things in you that you do not.

Which is right? Actually, both have the ring of truth. Life choices are not neat and clear-cut very often. Most times of transition are fraught with feelings of being tugged in many directions. Some people call this caught in the tension. It’s just the way life is much of the time.

So what’s a job-hunter to do? I’d like to suggest a few steps that can help you draw on the wisdom that both these viewpoints can yield.

  1. Do a personal/professional inventory. Start with who you are and what you want. Know what you love to do.
  2. Think about other people like you. What jobs do they hold? What successes do they achieve?
  3. Ask people you trust to suggest ways that you can widen your perspective and search for jobs in new areas. Try to be open to listening to what they have to say.
  4. Of course, you don’t have to follow their suggestions, but they will be happy to learn that you investigated their ideas to some degree.

Does this process contain conflicting information? I don’t think so. If you are a young person just entering the labor market, you will learn that feedback is as valuable as knowing yourself. If you are a person planning something new for your retirement, you have (I hope) learned that the feedback you have received over your years of employment falls into a pattern. Maybe it is time to follow where that pattern takes you, especially if it parallels what you have thought about all along.

If you would like to speak with a career counselor about balancing the two threads of self-awareness and ideas from other people, please visit for information on career counseling.