How would you describe a meeting that elicited the following responses? “Thank you for today’s gift! “” So inspiring, educational and meaningful. “I was so elated.” “Incredible, warm and inspiring.” “Brilliant ideas”.
This was the 11th year of meeting a group of middle-aged to older men and women with a track record of professional success and who continue to develop their new stage of life commonly referred to as retirement. The men in the group are members of the Life Transition Group; the female component of Renewment®.
Here’s the story: Several years ago Ron Dresher and Brian Harris, both longtime marketers, went for a bike ride along the beach and started talking about their retirement. Both were passionate about their work. They wondered what they would do with their energy and commitment when they were off work. They felt motivated to deepen their knowledge and were ready to share their experiences with others. Subsequently, they formed a group of like-minded men and have been meeting for 13 years with monthly speakers. There are three such groups in Southern California.
Women are from Renewment, a forum and movement started by my co-founder Bernice Bratter and myself in 1999. Women at Renewment, also with successful careers, want to create the next chapter in life to be equal or even more satisfying than the previous ones. We also meet once a month to discuss topics relevant not only to the transition to retirement, but also to changes throughout life. We have about 40 renewal conversation groups across the country that have grown virally. Since the pandemic, we have created 10 virtual renewal groups that meet monthly.
For the current combined meeting, professions ranged from rocket scientist to coffee consultant as well as careers in law, business, education, journalism, academia and the media represented.
The question we addressed: What has been the impact of the Covid on your life? Several themes emerged.
Slow down / have time: Slowing down seems to have a positive effect with a renewed appreciation of time. A man who was always up early in the day now takes his morning coffee quietly in bed with his wife. He finds himself nicer to people, thanking restaurant waiters and store clerks, realizing that being kind, tolerant, caring and grateful is more important than ever. Time has worked in favor of another. A widower and his widowed girlfriend lived in separate residences. While in confinement, they decided to live in his house and realized that they really enjoyed being together. Subsequently, each sold their house and together bought a condominium where they both live happily.
Goal: The top priority of a woman has always been to foster relationships. Since the Covid, it has become more important. Another woman said her goal and objective was to transfer her business to her daughter. During Covid, this became possible; mother and daughter are now starting their own CPA practice. Being a friend and working with the community was part of another woman’s Covid goal.
Spirituality: A stronger spiritual foundation has given another more confidence in the present and the future. He felt that what is happening today is part of a master plan, a sentiment that has grown over the past 18 months. He also realized the importance of leaving a legacy for his family on who he is. “The sense of immortality continues to be severely tested,” he added.
Relationships: Woman found out that during Covid, she bonded with her unmarried adult children. Another admitted that she had passed judgment and is working on it now. A woman whose parents are aged 81 and 90, and a friend and sister both have cancer, recognized the increased importance of friendships and family. Another noted that Covid took his trip away, which left more time to spend with his wife and resulted in a deeper and more committed relationship. And another kept the family together by hosting a weekly Zoom Call on Sunday. As a result, family members now also call each other by phone during the week and talk to each other rather than texting each other.
Selfless donation: A successful CEO has a more fatherly feeling for the associates of his company. He didn’t fire anyone during the business uncertainty and instead provided the necessary funds to the business. He intentionally had home renovations done to give workers work and deliberately commissioned restaurants to keep them in business.
All recognized the tragic aspect of the pandemic, but were determined to find or create something worthwhile out of experience in a quest to improve lives every day.
So, “it was the meeting that was,” sincere, caring, honest and grateful. May each of us find something from our shared experience to help us improve our lives – every day.
Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on aging, employment and new retirement issues with academic, corporate and non-profit background. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at [email protected] Visit Helen on HelenMdennis.com and follow her on facebook.com/SuccessfulagingCommunity