043: How To Make The Most of Your Second Act with Dr. Paul Ward
Dr. Paul Ward is a leadership and life transitions coach, transformation consultant, purposeful life coach, and hot air balloon pilot. As the principal owner of the Too Young To Retire Organization, he helps people contribute to the world beyond their initial careers to make the most out of their second act – whether that’s an encore career, volunteering, becoming healthier, financial management, or traveling the world.
He’s also currently in the process of co-authoring the second edition of Too Young To Retire: 101 Ways To Start The Rest Of Your Life. He’ll be adding new insights and stories from the last 15 years, expanding significantly on the original ideas about work, health, and aging.
Today, he joins the podcast to share his learnings from his extensive studies on positive aging research, how he walks his coaching clients through the process of envisioning their future and purpose, and shares the secret way that you can travel the world for free in retirement.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- How Dr. Ward became a hot air balloon pilot – and what flying balloons has taught him about the big picture and going with the flow in life.
- What Dr. Ward does to help his clients overcome the feeling that they’ll never have enough money.
- Why guided meditation and visualization practices are part of Dr. Ward’s methods – and why it works so well as a lead-in to coaching sessions.
- The reason we all need coaches, mentors, or at least conversation partners – and why those people all need coaches as well – to do the best possible work.
- What makes social entrepreneurship and activism so well-suited to second-act careers – and how to find ways to get involved in your community.
- How a memorable purpose statement can keep you focused, action-oriented, and positive.
“Don’t put off saving. Recognize that the retirement era for you could be 30 years. Now, do you want to have a choice about what you do in that 30 years? Or do you want to have to get a job because you didn’t save for retirement?” Dr. Paul Ward
“When I choose to do things, when I accept invitations to serve on a not-for-profit board, for example, or if I’m asked to go and do a speech, then I look to that and say, ‘Can I use that platform, that event to take people higher in spirit, in business, or in life?’” – Dr. Paul Ward
Casey: Today’s guest is Dr. Paul Ward, a leadership and life transitions coach, transformation consultant, purposeful life coach, oh, and he’s a hot air balloon pilot to boot. Yes, he has quite a diverse background as you’re soon going to find out. Paul is the principal owner of the Too Young to Retire Organization, a coaching organization designed to help others contribute beyond their initial careers and make the most out of their second half. That could be through an encore career, volunteering, living a healthier lifestyle, managing your finances, or even helping you plan to travel the world. Dr. Ward has conducted many studies into the area of positive aging presenting his research findings at international conferences and he continues his research moving forward, which he will be sharing with us today. He is also updating the Too Young to Retire book as a co-author, soon to be released and we’re going to have a wide-ranging discussion today covering a variety of different topics with a focus on finding your purpose in retirement.
One of my favorite topics covered is when Paul gives us insight into how he walks his coaching clients through the process of envisioning their future and purpose even walking me through a one-on-one demonstration of how to prepare your mind for these conversations through a guided meditation. He discusses with us how to structure your retirement manifesto, set your grandchildren up for success, what practices he utilizes to prolong his life and stay healthy, and a bonus at the end regarding how to travel the world for free in retirement which you won’t want to miss. I honestly didn’t even know this was the thing until he shared it with me. Without further delay, I offer you, Dr. Paul Ward.
Casey: Welcome to the Retire With Purpose Podcast. This is your host, Casey Weade, as always, and today we are joined by Dr. Paul Ward. Doctor, welcome to the podcast.
Dr. Paul: Thank you, Casey. I’m glad to be here today.
Casey: I’m really excited after reading your material and just exploring your website, getting to know you a little bit better, I know absolutely this is just going to be a great conversation. You’ve had so much experience and life transitions and purpose. It’s so meaningful to you that I can’t wait to hear some of the stories that you have to share with us, but I also know that you’re a hot air balloon pilot. That was something I got from your website is hot air balloon pilot and I always think about these hot air balloons. I’ve never been in one, and I think that just seems like such a crazy thing to do. We fill this balloon up with highly flammable gas. We put fire underneath it. We hop in a basket without any way to control the direction we’re going to go. We hope the wind blows us in the right direction. How do you get into hot air balloon rides and have had you any close calls?
Dr. Paul: Ha-ha, close calls. Well, getting into it was just a case of looking for something different to do. I had a manager many years ago who said, “Okay. So, we’re going to promote you. Now, you have to do something just different. When you come in Monday morning, do something different,” and I’ve taken that philosophy, do something different. And so, instead of taking up golf back in 1990, I took up ballooning and I was in England, living in England at the time, and fall into a group of people buying a balloon and got my license in the UK and then I came to the US in ‘95 and eventually bought a balloon here and I’ve had 23 years of ballooning. Moved to Florida and this is not a place for balloons but I love a good experience. Now, you talk about near misses. There have been a few. I guess the story that I often tell is more to do with landings. It’s tough to land a balloon, particularly late in the evening when the wind dies down. You have to find a space big enough to get the balloon down safely.
And I remember one night I had a 76-year-old lady, beautiful lady, she had her oxygen bottle with her. Now, we have hot air so it’s not – there’s no flammable gas there really but she has this is oxygen bottle. She was a delight, but I have this precious cargo. The sun was setting and I have a beautiful picture of the sun setting over the balloon and me still in the air. That was scary and I got it down in a little postage stamp of someone’s backyard at upstate New York and I was very relieved. That is one of those days where you’re in the air wishing you were on the ground rather than on the ground wishing you’re in the air.
Casey: Well, I already illustrated how little I know about hot air balloon flying and Vice President, you know, Marshall and I, we were just having conversation and a little bit of disagreement on how controllable the hot air balloon is as far as direction goes. I said, “Now, I’m pretty sure you get in that thing, the wind’s got to be right because there’s no way you can control whether you’re going to go east, north, west. You’re at the mercy of the wind.” Do you have any control of the directionality of that thing?
Dr. Paul: Well, you don’t have any control over the wind, that’s for sure. But you do have control over the direction within the wind and so the wind at height is different to the wind on the ground. So, if you know the wind on the ground is North and as you got higher it turns right so it turns to the east.
Casey: So, you can kind of go up and down to find the right wind to go the direction that you want to go?
Dr. Paul: That’s exactly right. So, you do have some control. Some days you have more control than others.
Casey: Well, and that’s kind of like life, right? And I wonder if spending all that time in hot air balloons, does that can help you in life? I mean, how are some of the lessons that you’ve had from hot air balloon rides helped you in just life kind of going with the flow I would presume?
Dr. Paul: Well, it’s partly that. I think for me it’s the big picture. When you’re on the ground, you have a very narrow perspective. When you get up above the tree level and I’ve been up to around 6,000 feet, that’s pretty high in an open basket but generally, we fly around 1,000 to 2,000 feet, you get a real good picture of what surrounding and so that overview, that big picture really for me has been important, not just to get a too narrow view, not to be limited. So, I talk about possibility thinking, really thinking about what’s possible. And when you get up in the air, you can see a lot more and you don’t know what’s there and so a lot of people say that they say, “Well, I live around here. I never knew that was there.” So, it gives you a really big picture and that’s something I liked about it, the whole thing of big picture and, yes, uncontrollable. The world is a little uncontrollable at times.
Casey: Well, and then you into retirement and that’s kind of like retirement. You just have all these possibilities, the sea of possibilities, and you figure out which way you’re going to go. Or really at first, I would think understanding those possibilities is such a big deal and you help a lot of individuals in life transitions, especially retirement transitions. That’s one of the things you spend a lot of your time on is coaching. Can you tell us about a recent transition client that you assisted that was maybe transitioning into retirement or struggling with something in retirement?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. Great question. Just a recent client I think is a good example and this was a senior leader and I work with all sorts of different people in different roles but this was a general counsel of a large pharmaceutical company and he had got to the stage where he has done a good job of his retirement planning, financial planning. He thought he was getting close to being able to let go of this big corporate role and the big corporate income but he didn’t know what to do next. He was ready, but he didn’t know what to do next. So, I went with him for six months. Interestingly enough, he was one of my clients I never met face-to-face. It was always through the Zoom platform so a really good experience, but we worked through what was important to him, what was his values, and we really got into purpose. What was his purpose in life? What did he really want to be doing? And that really helped him discover what the future was.
He was into children. He really wanted to help children but he had no expertise. Maybe he had children of his own but he had no expertise. He really wanted to be able to help children but he’s law background. And so, we spend a lot of time looking at what was behind his purpose. So, what did he really want to do? What was he passionate about? And at the end of that, he transitioned out of the corporate world into the not-for-profit world so he was still going to payroll by the different level in terms of pay, but it was him bringing his legal skills into a children’s environment. I won’t go into the detail of what it was but that transition it was just wonderful to watch because he started off with a real lack of clarity, knowing he wanted to move out of the corporate world, but not knowing where to go, and he ended up in just a great place. So, that’s a good example of the type of conversations that I have with clients really getting underneath what’s important to them and getting them to discover it.
Casey: Well, Paul, you know, one of the things that I find, I mean, in that story you’ve got someone that’s highly successful. It sounds like they’re earning a really good income and when I’m working with people that are in that type of situation, the hardest thing for them to do is to shift their focus and stop thinking about the money and actually realized I don’t need that extra paycheck. And for one gentleman I recently implemented a plan for, it was the idea that if he earns any more money, he’s no longer working for himself. He’s working for someone else. So, are you that charitable? Because every time you are moving forward, you’ll never spend. I wonder how you help this person overcome, and not just overcome, I mean, you got this individual to shift from making a really lofty income or a very nice salary, whatever that structure might’ve been to now you’re going to get your time away for free. How did you help them with that transition? Because I think it’s really difficult for some to say, “Okay. I don’t need any more money because it sometimes feels like it’s never enough and we kind of train that in American society that you never have enough, money so important,” how did you help him with that?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. I think it’s this idea of getting something that’s more important than the making of the money. Now, I understand that people we all need to get to a comfort level and this client did. He was comfortable with what he had saved so that was a good thing. Not everyone’s at that stage but he had got to that stage. So, in some ways he was ready and then it was a case of saying is this much more important? Is this new direction much more important than what you’re doing? And it was. Now, I had clients where it’s not having gone to that stage and then you’re right. They’re not ready to let go and if the client’s not ready to let go then they’re not ready and sometimes that’s the case of saying, okay, let’s revisit this in six months or a year or whenever they are ready because I think as coaches, we’re not in the case of forcing people to make those changes. We’re helping them discover and so part of that discovery is, in fact, I had a couple years ago with a client who merely discovered he wasn’t ready.
He really wasn’t ready to let go of his and he had built, interestingly enough, a financial planning company and he’s been very successful, but he just wasn’t ready to let go and we explored that again for about six months. At the end, he said, “I think I understand where I am right now, but I’m not ready to let go.” Now, in many ways, that’s just as good as moving forward if he’s got clarity around that decision. For me, it’s helping clients get clarity around the next step and…
Casey: I like the idea of discover and getting clarity. Do you have any specific questions that you found to be really helpful through this discovery process? Because I mentioned, this is really just a process of asking the right questions. I’m going to say that’s what wisdom is, is knowing the right question to ask, not actually having the answer.
Dr. Paul: Yeah. There are some questions but I tend to use some visualization techniques. This is not therapy and it’s not really getting people to lose their mind, but taking them through really a guided meditation, a guided visualization, and I have a number of those that I take clients through. They have to be ready to do that. I just had one just a couple weeks ago with a new client who’s actually on my business leader program and he never experienced a visualization before and so we had to, you know, I worked with him for about three months before we ventured into that place but his experience of that visualization was spectacular. Most of my clients who have had that experience really value it and the visualization can help them visualize themselves in the future. Now, once they visualize themselves in the future, they can go back to that place and it’s purely a place they created in their mind. They can go back to that place and revisit and explore. That’s what it says about. It’s an exploration, an exploration of where they’re thinking of going, looking at what’s possible. And that’s where I think they begin to discover. And, yes, you’re right. There’s a series of questions. I tend to be very responsive to those sorts of questions. But in coaching, a lot of the time it’s for us to listen and, you know, I know when I’ve had a good coaching session is when I didn’t do too much talking but just ask a few questions that guided the client through that exploration.
Casey: In a practical sense, if we were going to do this on our own, I think meditation is one of those things that a lot of people are kind of what is that? It’s nebulous to most, if you will, and it just seems kind of touchy-feely, I don’t know if I’m really in the meditation hippie-dippy world but what does that look like? If I want to go home and I want to practice this visualization, this meditation about the future, what does that look like say on the first run at it?
Dr. Paul: Should we do one?
Casey: Yes, let’s do it.
Dr. Paul: You’re up for one?
Casey: I’m up for it. Give it to me, doc.
Dr. Paul: So, I tend to call these moments of mindfulness, and in fact, I do this at the beginning of all my coaching conversations whether it’s in person or on the phone or on videoconference and this just takes a couple of minutes. I know we’re going to too much detail. We won’t spend too long. But what I just invite you to do is just to plant your feet flat on the floor, sit up quite straight with your back quite straight. Just imagine a ribbon running through your spine and out through the top your head, just a lightness coming into your head. And I invite you just to close your eyes if you wish or just soften your gaze. Just take a few deep breaths. So, breathe in through your nose, hold just for a moment, then just let go. Just take two total three really deep breaths and then just let your breathing come back to a natural rhythm and just focus on the breathing, breathing in and breathing out. And just sit in silence for a while. Just notice though that thoughts will come in. That’s natural. In meditation, we want to focus on our breathing just to let our mind go but our mind’s active so thoughts come in.
So, notice those thoughts, acknowledge them, appreciate them, and go on to the story about that thought run down the narrative. Just recognize, come back to focus on the breathing. Just do that for a minute, focus on that natural rhythm of the breathing, noticing the thoughts, acknowledging them and coming back to the breathing and we’re going to just sit in silence for a while. So, just for this moment of mindfulness of purposeful pause if you like. Let’s take a few more deep breaths, breathing in through your nose, holding just for a second and breathing out. Just take three more deep breaths and then when you’re ready, just relax, open your eyes, and come back into the virtual circle. So, ideally timing it, but just a few minutes and the next step then is to explore what are you noticing, what’s coming up, and I’m not going to ask you to share what was coming up but it’s much more about, okay, so what is there for you. And so, when I do that in the beginning of a coaching conversation, first of all, it brings people centered and quiet, ready for conversation. But the other thing it does is bring to their mind the things that are really important to them. And that practice of a moment of mindfulness, we can do anytime.
Now, I’m fortunate. I live by the beach. I live in West Palm Beach, Florida by the beach. I can look out the window. It’s windy today. The waves are pretty rough but I get to walk on the beach. That’s a place for me to be mindful, just to take my thoughts quietly to the beach but wherever we are, we can take that what I call a purposeful force just to allow us to let go of some of the tensions and bring to mind some of the things that are really important.
Casey: Which when we’re working, we typically just don’t have the time to do that. Maybe I say I’ve never meditated on a podcast before, but I do enjoy a good practice of meditation on a daily basis in the morning and I find it really helpful for myself just identify really what’s on my mind for the day and start to wrap around those things in a journal and set the intention for that day and I would think that’s kind of the process you’re going through here, you free out what is on your mind, how do you feel, and then getting into really kind of virtually journaling via these questions, these follow-up questions and solidify, well, why was that on your mind and what are we going to do about it? Do we want to do anything about it? Is that kind of the idea?
Dr. Paul: Yes, very much so and if I can share the cover of my book that I published last year…
Casey: Yes, absolutely.
Dr. Paul: We’ll see that this is very relevant if you like. So, this is called the inner journey to conscious leadership and you see on the front the three themes are noticing what’s going on. The second is setting intention, which is just what you talked about and the third piece is acting responsibly. And so, with those three themes, I mean, there are 10 practices for leading consciously in here. This is a leadership book but it’s also a book about living consciously as well. But this whole idea of noticing what’s going on, setting an intention about how we’re going to show up in the world, and then acting responsibly so that we don’t just go off and act, regardless of what we think is important but act responsibly. When I walk on the beach, there’s so much plastic and all sorts of other things. I tripped over a fishing line the other day. Now, I can leave it there. I can just get my feet out and leave it there but I know that the fish and the turtles that live here, they get wrapped up in that too. So, my acting responsibly in that moment was to spend a couple of minutes just putting this whole piece of fishing wire and taking it with me and discarding it, consciously.
Casey: Well, I admit we don’t make the time for that during our working years. Do you find that a lot of individuals they haven’t really thought about their daily intentions and what it means to act responsibly until the time that they step into retirement and now they go, “Wow. I’m going to have a lot of free time on my hands. Maybe I should think about this?”
Dr. Paul: Yeah. That’s a great question. The clients I work with, they’re on a whole spectrum really and I have people like you who are thinking ahead and saying, “Okay. I’m going to start planning for…” and I don’t like this word, retirement. I’m trying to retire the word retirement and that’s okay.
Casey: I was going to ask you what that meant.
Dr. Paul: Well, the whole idea of retirement for me is just in the knack of I just don’t want to be retired. I run the transition but I don’t want to be retired and I live in Florida and all the people who come here want to retire. At least they think they do. They think they just want to play golf. And they enjoy playing golf but they get here, play golf, and then realize there’s got to be something more than that. So, it’s important when you’re looking forward to I think to look at what do I want to do when I transition from my current career into whatever comes next. So, we do have clients that are at that stage. I find it would just suddenly how they work. Now, that may not have been retirement. People lose their jobs all sorts of times. Health issues come up. We find ourselves out of work and we haven’t done any planning. We may have done some financial planning but not really done planning for what are we going to do with our lives.
Casey: Let’s talk about that. I think a lot of people say, “Oh, I’ve already got a retirement plan,” but it’s really a financial plan. In your mind, what is the difference between a financial plan and a retirement plan?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. Great question. So, I think a financial plan is an essential part of a retirement plan. You really need to have that in place, and for a lot of people, and it is your expertise here but a lot of people leave there too late. I have kids in their 30s and my message to them is you got to be starting to think about it now so that you’re building your financial security. If you have financial security, as you go through the transition, you have a lot more choices. I know I have clients who they call and say, “I need work. I got to have work to pay the bills.” So, we have to start early and we can build that financial security. The other part then is to look at what do we want to be doing in that transition? I’m fortunate I’m sort of being going through that transition. I’ve been a consultant in the international world for probably 30 years. My life has been on and off airplanes, working with clients. I was able to transition five or six years ago to doing that more part-time. I was doing it full-time and I transition to do that more part-time and gradually, I’ve transitioned to doing a lot more coaching both in terms of my time and transitions and leadership coaching.
I’m writing books and there’s lots of stuff going on, but at least I now have a choice. I love to play tennis. So, on Monday morning at 9:30 I have a choice. I can either do some work or I can go and play tennis. Now, most of the time I choose to play tennis because work can get done later on. So, I think that’s the key for me is when you start thinking about that whole retirement picture come back to purpose, it’s retiring with a purpose. So, what is my purpose? Am I going to be helping children? Florida’s full of not-for-profit. There’s plenty of places to volunteer. So, great, if you can find a place to volunteer to serve on not-for-profit boards, find what is your passion, and then go and do that but you have to think about it ahead of time because you may need to go and do some research. You may need to do some training. You may need to go on a retreat and I’d like us to share that story for me because back in 2009, I think it was 2009, I had the opportunity to go to East Africa. It was what we called an inventure.
So, it was an adventure if you like. It was a walking Safari, 15 days in the Serengeti but it was an inventure because it was the inner journey. We went on an inner journey and one of my great teachers is Richard Leider. Richard Leider wrote the book, The Power of Purpose, among other things, and he led that retreat and it was a walking Safari, eight men, and we walk every day and we sat around the campfire and talk about what we were doing but it was an inner journey and so it took me away from the consulting world. No electronics. Didn’t take a cell phone. Fifteen days without access to the wide world because the only thing we really saw were animals and just a small group of people and some of the indigenous tribe, the Hadza tribe, and a couple of others. So, we had a great time, but I came away from that 15 days with a very clear idea that what I wanted to do was to help people in the second half of life. Now, I’ve always been involved in being intentional and the idea of purpose then came clear to me. I then worked with a coach to get help about what my purpose was and what I was going to do.
And so, just taking that time out at the right stage and I was, what was I? 58, 59 so I wasn’t thinking about retirement. I was thinking about continuing my career, but it gave me 15 days of just letting my mind flow and see what happened and what emerged from that really has led me to where I am today. And so, I think it’s an opportunity for anyone to go on a journey, whatever sort of journey it is to explore and come back to that word, discover, discover what’s important, and then you can build your overall plan. What’s important? Do I need to do some training? Do I need to go to a different location? All sorts of things that consider that we need to consider as we build our big retirement plan.
Casey: Well, I think it’s kind of strange for me being in the seat that I am working with and specializing and helping people with these retirement transitions, and I’ve literally met with thousands of individuals that are either in retirement, transitioning to retirement, and I spend all this time interviewing these retirement coaches on the podcast, and I never met a single person that’s ever actually met with the retirement coach and kind of went through this process and you are a coach and you worked with a coach. And I think sometimes you go, “Well, a coach doesn’t need a coach but you need a coach.” What made you go, “Boy, I need to find myself a coach,” and who is it right for? And maybe there are some people that really don’t need that coaching?
Dr. Paul: Well, I think we all need a coach. Now, you want to call that a mentor or even just a conversation partner. It doesn’t matter what you call it. I think we all need someone who is helping us coach and I think coaches need coaches. There’s no doubt in my mind. When I sat down and wrote the book that I showed you just a little while ago, I hired a book writing coach. I’ve never written a book before, so we do need coaches. Now, again, you have to be open. You have to be ready to discover, ready to explore, but if you have a coach, then you can be guided and you can be coached and open your eyes, ask you questions, and get you really to start thinking about what’s possible.
Casey: Well, I think the most important part of what we do is just spending time, asking people questions, and listening and responding and asking more questions and digging deeper, but I want to get back to something you said earlier that I think is really important and kind of strange. And that is that you want to retire retirement. So, what does that look like for someone? Do you help them reword that word retirement for themselves, that they no longer call it, “Hey, I’m retired?” Do they call it something else? What does that process look like?
Dr. Paul: Yeah and we do that with a little tongue-in-cheek because the word retirement is so ingrained in our vocabulary. It’s difficult to get rid of, but for me, it’s about transitioning. It’s transitioning from often from a full-time career into something else. What the something else is in some ways is not important to me as a coach. It’s important to the client. So, it could be transitioning to doing a similar sort of work but the less time that allows them to go travel to play tennis, to play golf, to enjoy life that they’ve earned over that period. It could also mean go and do something that they’re really passionate about that they haven’t been able to do when being at work. A lot of the time, we go to work because we have to. We have to pay the bills. What I’m trying to get people to think about is go to work because you want to, not because you have to so go to work. So, what do you want to do? Do you want to go and work in Walmart as a greeter? Do you want to go and serve children? I mean, do you want to go and help homeless people? There are so many places to serve our local communities.
So, it’s important then to be really thinking about, okay, so what are we going to do in that second part of life? And encore careers, I mean, there are lots of stories about encore careers and the success people have had particularly in being an entrepreneur. A lot of us work in the corporate world all these years and then suddenly we got this freedom to be an entrepreneur. Well, there are so many opportunities to create just a new business, a new venture. It doesn’t have to be big, it can be just something very small but then you’re serving your community and you’re serving yourself. Your life is then fulfilled. That’s the challenge I think is transitioning from, as I say, work that you just have to do to work that you really want to do. Whether that’s paid or by volunteer and that’s just a force of circumstance. Some people really have to be paid. That’s their financial circumstance and let’s recognize that. Some of us are fortunate to have acquired and saved well, but not everybody has. And so, some people have to work but let’s help them work at something that they really want to do. And for those who don’t have to work financially, help them identify what’s going to fulfill them, how can they serve the community and therefore serve themselves.
Casey: Well, I think about what you’re talking about there is this idea of social entrepreneurship or activism, for that matter in the second leg and I see more people every day that were helping retire to a new career where, yes, they are continuing to make income. Maybe they need to continue to create an income but they’re doing it for an activist type of ideal. Have you worked to anybody that has had that and that might be a new concept to some, social entrepreneurship? What is social entrepreneurship and who’s right for it?
Dr. Paul: Well, I think it’s right for everybody. We live in such sort of an unjust world. There’re so many good qualities I think to spend time on and I think that’s again it’s for each individual. I’ve just been back to my hometown in England. I live in Portsmouth. I spend probably a third of the year there and Portsmouth has a lot of places, including here in West Palm Beach, Florida. We have a homeless spot. There are people living at the streets. Now, here in Florida, they’re not too bad. I mean, its climate is pretty good but, in the North, you know, New York and Portsmouth in England, it’s not good. Now, there are a lot of people doing a lot of good work to help the homeless. That’s not my passion. That’s not something I want to do. I work in the mental health field. I’m a chair of the Board of the Mental Health Association here in Palm Beach County. I mean, that’s part of my passion. I’m helping people who have mental health issues. I’m no expert in mental health but that’s where I’m putting my – I bring my business skills to help that organization.
There’s just so many areas to help. Whether it’s children or it’s people in their middle age who have mental health issues, whether it’s aging, the aging population who are lonely, there’s so many opportunities for us to help. And so, I think for people going through that transition and this is the work I do with clients is to find out what really would get them up in the morning. That is for me is what purpose is about. What gets them up in the morning?
Casey: If you’re ready to take the next step towards securing the confident retirement you’ve always wanted, then stop by RetireWithPurpose.com. You have three options to get started. If you want to stay on top of current retirement trends, you can sign up for my weekend reading for retirees where I offer up four trending articles on retirement from experts in the field with my own personal insights directly to your inbox every single Friday. Or maybe you’re ready to see what a purpose-based retirement strategy would look like for you, then apply to receive a free copy of one of my latest retirement planning books. And if you have specific questions you’d like to get professional guidance on, you can sign up for a complimentary consultation. It’s up to you. Again, that’s RetireWithPurpose.com. Now, back to the podcast.
Casey: I think in this book, Too Young To Retire, which I actually really enjoyed and I know you’re rewriting it right now to put out a second edition, there was something in there on this topic of social entrepreneurship, what do you want to do in this second act of your life, that I really like for you to explain that you should describe your ideal world to a grandchild. And I find a lot of times I think we describe that ideal world to a grandchild in a very negative sense. We say, “Boy, when I was a kid, we did like this,” or, “All you millennials are spoiled,” or we have these things that we wish would come back or we wish were different, technology’s a problem or whatever it might be. We’re distracted all the time. We don’t have that sense of family anymore. You’re not getting around the dining room table on Sunday night and always having dinner together and describe that ideal world to a child and then what can you do to help that dream become a reality? I don’t know if you have grandchildren. If you’ve went through that, what that experience is like for you, if you’ve had other individuals that have actually done that.
Dr. Paul: Well, I do have grandchildren I’m pleased to say. They range from eight months old to 16 years old and so I’m delighted to spend time with them. But you’re right, I can show up and be very negative. I try not to be. That’s not the way I show up. I like to be a positive person. I look for possibility, but I think in terms of what people look for, family is really important. I did some research probably five or six years ago and I dug out my report on it and it may just be worth sharing a couple of things. We looked at I interviewed probably 25 to 30 people.
Casey: Is this the purposeful aging research study?
Dr. Paul: That’s right. That’s right. Yes. So, I published some interim results back in 2013 at the positive aging conference in Los Angeles, but this was a mixed methods study. I’m a researcher. I have a Ph.D. This wasn’t a Ph.D. study, but I asked some very open questions and there were some specific writing-type questions. What was interesting I looked at asking people what was their most important activities as they had talked about moving forward. And spending time with family and friends always comes out at number one, the most important thing to do. And curiously enough, the question of that, ensuring you have enough income for the rest your life came right at the end.
Casey: At the end, out of how many?
Dr. Paul: Fifteen.
Casey: Fifteen. So, out of 15, the financial plan was last.
Dr. Paul: That’s right.
Casey: And we always hear, well, what’s the number one thing that people are concerned about when it comes to retirement? Well it’s running out of money and then it’s healthcare, vice versa, depending on the study and you’re saying, “No, I want to make sure I’m spending time with family and friends,” right?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. Now, the second one was using your abilities to accomplish things that matter, whatever things that matter, and this comes back to what’s important for me. What is important? So, doing things that matter, helping make things better for others, that’s what people want to do. Now, the thing about the financial peace and maybe I talk to people who most of people maybe you who are financially secure, that may have been a factor. That wasn’t fully the case but they may have been part of that. But the finances are an important essential because if you have financial security, you can devote your time to a lot of other things. If you’re worrying about paying the bills then you don’t have the mental capacity over time to deal with that. But it just comes back to what’s those most important things that people want to do and family is obviously important. And particularly in today’s world where our families are so disparate. We’re spread around the country, we’re spread around the world.
And so, technology, the Zoom platform, for example, and Skype, that enables us to be close, but it doesn’t enable us to be in the room with people and so family and friends is really critical but then once you got that, so what are you going to do then? And that’s where it comes back to what gets me up in the morning. What’s really important? And for me, that’s something that comes back to the whole concept of aging purposefully is important. Being clear, my purpose, what do I want to achieve? If you’ve got that, you’re going to have a good time once you go through that transition and in fact, you won’t be retired. You won’t even feel retired. You may not be paid for what you’re doing but you have a full-time. I mean, I’m busier now than I was when I was working full-time.
Casey: Now, a lot of people say, “Well, I’m busy,” and I think I just never really liked the word busy because that implies, “No, I’ve got a bunch of stuff I got to do and I really don’t want to do it.” You are busy. You entertain? You’re loving the things that you want to do. You got a full calendar. It’s not just busy work.
Dr. Paul: Yeah, that’s important. Yeah, you’re right. I agree with you. I don’t like the word busy but, yeah, but for me, it’s about choices. To get up in the morning and have the choice to go out to lunch with some friends or to go to lunch yesterday with a business colleague, to write, which I do a lot of. And then at times to go play tennis.
Casey: Well, and you may not be able to do some of those things without that financial security. I mean, I think it’s really important to revisit what you said there that if you don’t have financial security, it makes it very difficult to fulfill that purpose and we often say spend with confidence. And oftentimes I think as we’re making this transition throughout our lives, it’s always been about return on investment, saving as much as I possibly can, getting the biggest return that I can so that someday I can retire and then the shift has to shift away from return on investments. It’s not about that anymore. Let’s create that financial security that might mean maybe I don’t get the return on investment that I’m used to, but now I have the return on life and that is such an important concept, I believe. And you teach these Too Young To Retire workshops and when I saw the title I go, “What is this book about? What does it mean, I’m too young to retire? I don’t want to retire? Am I literally too young to retire?” What does Too Young To Retire mean to you?
Dr. Paul: Yes. So, I was listening just in the last couple of days some of your previous guests and one of your guests have retired at 35 years old. Remember that? Yeah. But it sounded to me that, yeah, he had retired from what he was doing, but he’s already doing some other things.
Casey: This idea of the FIRE movement, right? Finding fulfillment in this next career but with financial freedom.
Dr. Paul: Right. Right. So, that for me is certainly a message for particularly people in their younger years is to be looking to get that financial security because, without it, it’s more difficult. It is more difficult. There’s no doubt about that. So, the financial planning early on is important but then if you’re just financial planning for some goal of having money, the question then becomes how much is enough? You must get that question. How much is enough?
Casey: I think it’s really important. I had a mentor of mine that always said, “What is your number?” and figuring out what that number is for you, for the clients you’re working with. And as I’ve helped clients identify what that number is, once they get there, I find that it completely changes their life.
Dr. Paul: And I get that. I found two different types of people, you may have found the same, to get to that point and say, “Okay. So, I got there. That’s not quite enough.”
Casey: Right. That can be a problem. The never enough problem.
Dr. Paul: Yeah. Never enough. Keep moving the goal forward. And there are others as you say who feel once they got there then they can relax a little bit and maybe that’s the point that they can stop thinking about, “Okay. What else can I do?” but I think money is an important factor here, obviously, because it does give you confidence that, yeah, I can survive without working full-time, but it’s going to be more than that. It’s got to be more than that.
Casey: Well, you talked about the gentleman retiring at 35 and now most of the families we work with retiring between 60 and 65, I’m wondering I see how retirement has evolved, doing what I have been doing, helping people retire beyond 10 years now. I’ve been working with people for a little over 10 years. Well, you’ve been around and kind of seeing this retirement transition. My dad is a retirement advisor for 40 years and he’s seen a lot of changes. In your opinion, I have my own opinions, but in your opinion, how has retirement evolved over the last 100 years?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. Great question. And let me share my own father’s experience. He spent nearly 40 years in the electricity industry. Same company. Different roles but he was in the electricity industry. Came to close to 40 years and they said, “Okay, time for you to go. We’ll wound up your pension to 40 years and let you go.” He was 58. And he did. He retired and never worked for money ever again and he died 30 years later at 88 and he always said to me after he got past his early 70s, “If I had known that I was going to live this long, I just would’ve done something different.” He just thought when he retired at 58 that 10 years, maybe 12 years, then life would be over so let’s just enjoy it and they did. Now, my parents have a great time. They traveled. They were into dancing. They used to dance. They had a great life, no doubt about that, but he said, “If I had known that I was going to live for 30 years beyond my retirement age,” from the time he retired from the company, he would’ve done something different.
Now, that’s changing because the whole idea of working for 40 years and then getting a nice pension which was guaranteed, those sorts of things are gone now. We don’t get those final salary pensions anymore. They’re not very common. And so, we do have to plan more certainly financially and that’s really important, but also, we’re living longer. There’s no doubt we’re living into our 80s and 90s and some into 100.
Casey: That is probably a bit of an anomaly for his generation.
Dr. Paul: I think he was quite common for his generation.
Casey: To spend 30 years in retirement?
Dr. Paul: Well, I don’t know. I mean, there’s a lot of his peers are living that long. You know, they’re living a long time. I think that’s a situation.
Casey: You always hear about, well, back when my father retired, he’s been retired for five years or 10 years and now I’m going to retire for 30 years and it seems like there’s more people talking about that, but there are still those plenty cases out there when people used to spend 30 years in retirement with the difference being, as you pointed out, they had a secure income. They had this guaranteed lifetime income for the rest of their lives and this generation just as it has that. So, maybe they don’t have the same security that allows them to really focus on that return on life.
Dr. Paul: Well, their security is important. It comes back to the message for younger people and to my children who are in their 30s. Don’t put off saving for that time, recognizing that the retirement era for you could be 30 years. It could be that for 30 years you’re not working full time. Now, do you want to have a choice about what you do in that 30 years? Or you’re just going to go and have to get a job because you didn’t save for retirement? So, that message is really important I think too to get people to save and to be ready for that transition. There’s no doubt as we get older, we don’t work as well. I’m not old yet, but I noticed that there are little things and my memory doesn’t work quite as well as it used to. You know, I have to write things down a little bit more often. I have to work at things. So, our capability declines, but we still need to make sure that we’re enjoying that time and I like that balance between doing things that we love to do, like playing tennis, like helping people. That’s what my coaching’s about and balancing that with having an income. And if you haven’t saved then you’re going to have to work and you may have to work at something that you really don’t want to do just because you need that financial support so you need both.
Casey: And it’s this idea you talk about priorities for retirement and during your working career, we have one set of priorities and sometimes, unfortunately, work is at the top of that priority list. How do you help individuals reprioritize if you will as a step into retirement?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. And we touched on it a couple of times of this whole idea of purpose and what is your purpose? What’s your mission in life? What do you really want to do? And so, helping people, a lot of people sort of come back to that. They want to be able to help people. How do we help people? And for me, really, I spend a lot of time with clients really working through how do they define their purpose.
Casey: And what are your priorities? One thing you said earlier you said, “I had the choice to go play tennis or to go do something else with my time.” Do you have a schedule on a daily basis where this is what I’m planning on doing, I’ve got a schedule, I’ve got an agenda, I’ve got an organization in my life and the financial freedom that I have today is I can choose whether I want to not do that or swap that out?
Dr. Paul: Well, first of all, I’m fortunate to have that financial freedom and so, I feel very blessed to be in that situation, but I knew it wasn’t there, 10, 15 years ago. I’m still working at it. And so, coming back to this whole idea of purpose and to let me link it back to my ballooning.
Casey: Yeah. Please do.
Dr. Paul: We stopped at there. So, I had a commercial ballooning operation in upstate New York so at the weekend that was my weekend, I take people flying and they pay me to do it. It was great fun, great to be paid for things you love to do. But on my business card, it said, “Taking people higher. Taking people higher,” which is what I did. I put them in the basket, took them higher in the balloon. And I was working with what I would call a purpose coach. It was really a transformational coach and in fact, I took him in the balloon as well but that was after the work we did together.
Casey: You built some trust?
Dr. Paul: We do. We built some trust. Yeah, he taught me to do that, but we work together and he helped me through really trying to define a purpose statement and every purpose statement is really only for yourself.
Casey: Is this similar to the retirement manifesto as you think about your book?
Dr. Paul: It could be. I like a purpose statement to be something you can remember, and if they’re going to be remembering, it needs to be six to ten words. And so, with that work with this transformational coach, I came up with a statement that I use as my purpose statement and that purpose statement starts with taking people higher but the whole statement is taking people higher in spirit, in business, and in life. You’ll find that on my personal website, DrPaulWard.com. It’s on the top. Taking people higher in spirit, in business, and in life.
Casey: How long ago did you set that or write that down?
Dr. Paul: Got to be 10, 12 years ago.
Casey: Has it evolved over the last decade? Have you made some changes to it or has it been pretty steady?
Dr. Paul: It’s pretty steady. I have other purpose statements for particularly in my conscious leadership business and the work I do in conscious business. That’s another part of the work I do. But this is it’s quite a generic statement but I can test every action that I take against that statement. So, you know, if someone invites me to lunch, yesterday someone invited me to lunch. I only met them for about three minutes a couple of weeks ago at a breakfast, a charity breakfast, and they wrote and said, “Can we go to lunch?” I said, “Of course, we can go to lunch.” If I show up there thinking, “Oh, not another lunch. What am I doing here in this deli having lunch?” then I’m not going to get a good time nor is he. But if I show up with, okay, I don’t know this guy. How can I help him get higher in spirit, in business, or in life? I can test how I show up. I think it is all about how we show up in the world so I can show up with that in mind. And that’s how I prioritize. I don’t work on the schedule. I have schedule obviously during the day. There are certain things like when I have this on my calendar, I have a dental appointment on my calendar, I have meetings on my calendar, all of those things. There are certain commitments but there’s a lot of space in there for me to choose and as I say, when I choose to do things, when I accept invitations to serve on a not-for-profit board, for example, or if I’m asked to go and do a speech, I’m doing a speech next week at the local university, then I look to that and say, “Can I use that platform, that event to take people higher in spirit, in business, or in life?”
Casey: You write that down somewhere? Do you see that every day? Or now it’s just ingrained in your mind and allows you to be more intentional?
Dr. Paul: Yes, and that’s important. I like the manifesto because it really helps you think through a lot of steps but you’re not going to remember it and that’s the idea of having something that 6 to 10 words. Six to ten words we can all remember. I don’t need it. It’s on the top of my website but I look at my website every day. I don’t need it because I got it ingrained. It works for me. It may not work for someone else. You know, people have a different definition of their purpose. Some people use mission. Some people use vision. It’s okay. I mean, I work with all sorts of those sorts of words but being clear about your intention, whatever that is, really helps you prioritize, really helps you when you get up in the morning and say, “What’s the most important thing for me to do today?”
Casey: I think that’s the key. Maybe you go with the flow. You don’t have a schedule since I’m doing this at 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30 but at the very beginning of the day, you have thought about your day and what that day is going to look like and how you want to spend your time and how you ultimately want to feel at the end of the day, right?
Dr. Paul: Yeah.
Casey: There’s another thing that I loved in the Too Young To Retire book which was writing a speech to be delivered at your 100th birthday celebration. Have you done that yourself or maybe worked with someone and explain what they got out of that experience? I can’t wait to do it. I mean, we’re talking about 60 plus years for me. So, that’s really looking forward and thinking about what my life’s going to be like for the next 40 or 50 years.
Dr. Paul: Yeah. And so, yes, I’ve worked with clients to do it and, again, it takes them out of today and into the future and that’s the thing. We’re often in today’s situation and believe me, I’m someone who is very focused on the present moment, but I talk about shaping the future as if you’ll live forever or living today as if you’ll die tomorrow. So, shaping the future as if you live forever or living today as if you’ll die tomorrow. And so, when we start to write that speech at our 100th birthday or whatever that time is, that allows us to think about the time in the future. What do we want people to remember us for? Yes, if it’s 60 years out, that’s a long way to think about. And when I do these visualizations, I get people to think 5, 10, 15 years ahead. Not too far because if it’s so far out, it’s difficult to think about, okay, so what am I going to do? Then the next 5 to 10 years, we can do a lot. We really can. And so, sometimes it’s about saying, okay, well, in 10 years’ time, if you have to do a speech or if someone’s going to introduce you at an award ceremony or something like that, what do you really want them to be saying about you?
Dr. Paul: So, it’s getting people out there into the future to be able to say, okay, shaping the future. That’s really what it’s about and then saying, okay, what am I going to do today that enables me to shape that future.
Casey: Well, it’s a little less grim, maybe a little bit more positive than another exercise that I’ve heard people utilize for this very reason, which is what do you want it to say on your gravestone or write out your obituary. I like the idea of what do I want my grandkids to say about me, what do I want my speech or my introduction to look like when I reach my 100th birthday. I think that’s a much more positive way to look at that future.
Dr. Paul: Yes. That’s very much the role that we play in helping people really just to think forward, look forward rather than look back.
Casey: I want to shift as we wrap up here to some practical advice that was in the book on travel and wellness and volunteer opportunities because I think there are some good meat in here and I want to start with maybe the fun stuff which is a travel and I also explored on your website that you kind of get involved in helping people find cheap travel or ways to travel for free, for that matter. And this seems to me this is a relatively new concept of caretaking and how it can be used to help retirees find cheap travel. Just tell us a little bit about what this is.
Dr. Paul: Yeah, So, there’s a blog post. I think you must be referring to that on the Too Young To Retire website. It’s a little bit like sort of an exchange. You can go and live in someone else’s house while they come and live in yours or a lot of people need someone to be – it’s not just about pet sitting. I mean, there are pet sitting you can do but people need their house taken care of when they go off on their three-month around the world cruise or something like that. And I can take you to just in a new place. It wouldn’t cost you anything. Maybe it’s a car journey or a flight or whatever it is but then you can spend time in someone else’s house.
Casey: Have you done this?
Dr. Paul: I personally have never done it. I’ve never done it but it’s a great way of just exploring something different, a different area. And particularly, a lot of people who are going through the transition of finishing their full-time career look at where am I going to live? Where’s the best place to retire? We always see that. Where’s the best place to retire? Well, one of the ways to find out is to go and live there for a while and so exchanges or going to care someone’s home is a great way of doing that.
Casey: Well, it sounds like a pretty neat thing that I might want to try out just to contact somebody in the south of France and see if they just want to swap homes for a while.
Dr. Paul: Yeah.
Casey: So, where do you find these opportunities?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. The article and I don’t have the website in front of me but the article in the blog post, and it was done a couple of years ago probably. There is a website out there and I can’t think of the name and you can do some Google searching that allows you to register where you want to go and they’ll match you with people who are looking for someone to go and take care of their home.
Casey: Well, we’ll have to throw that link in the show notes on RetireWithPurpose.com/Podcast because I did click on that link myself. I went someplace, look like it was kind of a membership service that gave you a list of opportunities on a regular basis and I thought that was something new to me. I thought that was pretty interesting. Another thing you talked about earlier that was written about in Too Young To Retire was wellness and what we can do to prolong our life and stay healthier longer. In your mind, there are all types of things that we can do from physical fitness to seeing the doctor on a regular basis, spending time with family and friends, making new friends. There are so many different ways to prolong our life. In your mind, what is the most beneficial thing that we can do to prolong life and stay healthy long?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. Great question and just before I answer that, I think what’s interesting about the book, which was written first in about 2003 by Howard and Marika Stone and published by Penguin in 2004, when I look at that it’s nearly 15 years old. So much has changed and particularly health and wellness. I mean, it’s covered in the book, but as we’re writing the second edition, this is a huge area, health and wellness. So, it is about our mental health, our physical health, our spiritual health and our emotional health. All of those are important, and I simply come back to being mindful. That’s the spiritual part is being mindful, taking that purposeful pause and just spending time in quiet because I think when you’re in quiet time then your energy comes back and your mind is free to choose some of the things that you want to do. So, I think that’s one of those things. The whole area of wellness is huge these days. I mean, there’s so many books on that. We’ll write a chapter on it in the new edition but it’s more for us a case of what do we leave out rather than what we put in.
Casey: And in the book, it talks about tai chi, Pilates, yoga, being some of the most beneficial kind of physical activities we can do as we age. Is that something that you’re in agreement with or do you practice those things?
Dr. Paul: Yeah. I mean, I do a little yoga. I’ve tried tai chi. It’s not something that I’ve done a lot of. Again, I think it’s down to personal preference. It depends what you’re into, and yoga is good if you have the suppleness to be able to bend and flex. Not all of us have that and so there are a lot of different things. I think, I mean, Pilates is a great example. I have a friend of mine who went off to Pilates last year, hated it. Hated it. And part of that was it was too strenuous. And so, it is a case of choosing something that fits you as a person. So, my advice…
Casey: On the beach might be just that.
Dr. Paul: For me, that’s partly what it is. I’m very fortunate I can be on the beach in a couple of minutes and so that’s nice and easy and there’s nothing like starting the morning on the beach at sunrise. So, I’m very fortunate to be able to do that, but my advice is to go try these things out. Find what meets your needs, practice with each of them, take something on and as I say, yes, it may be just a simple walk on the beach or wherever you are. It can be a lot more physical exercise, I mean, go down to the gym if that’s what, I mean, I don’t go to the gym. I don’t like being in the gym. It’s not a place for me. Before, I like to be on the tennis court. I like to be walking on the beach but we’re all different and I would say I would encourage everyone just to go try things out and find what suits them.
Casey: Just going and staying active is what I would take away from that.
Dr. Paul: Do something.
Casey: Just moving and this is what one of our past podcast guest, Jim Owen, talked a lot about is to keep moving, whatever that is for you. I know when we record that podcast with James Owen, he was actually working out while he was on the phone and it was actually just him lifting his leg up. Now, he’s just lifting his leg up. He’s just continually moving, and I think that’s such an important concept. Doctor, I’d love to keep on talking with you. We got about halfway through my list of questions here today but I know you’ve got such an important agenda here ahead of you today. You know, there’s probably people listening in that want to learn more about you, maybe they want to pick up your book, maybe they want to connect with you, go through coaching with you or attend one of your workshops. How can someone connect with Dr. Ward?
Dr. Paul: Thank you. Yes. So, there are multiple websites across these days, but the Too Young To Retire website is the place to start and it does have the numbers in it so it’s number 2 young number 2 retire, 2Young2Retire.com and that’s the Too Young to Retire website. You’ll find a lot of resources on there, but there’s a contact page on there and you can always contact me through there. One thing I would invite anyone who’s listening to do, we’re just preparing to write this second edition of Too Young To Retire and we’re looking for stories. We’re looking for real stories that the first edition that Howard and Marika wrote that has a lot of stories in it. We’re still in touch with some of the people who wrote stories in there. We’re going to try and update those too. But if you have a story that you want to share, the transition from whatever your lifetime career was into an encore career or to something else then just drop me a contact just with a few lines and I will be back in touch via email and will love to interview anyone who wants to share their story and we’ll try to include it in the new book.
Casey: Well, that’s a pretty cool opportunity that you’ve thrown out there and I would actually take that even a step further. If you are interested in reading Too Young To Retire, it’s got some really good information about all the things we talked about and we’ve also got included in there 101 different opportunities for the open mind and there are some really interesting concepts, but what you can do with this next stage to your life for what type of things you get involved and the type of career you could start and I would say definitely you should send over your story over to Dr. Ward. If you want to read the book, we’ll be willing to send you out a free copy of Too Young To Retire and hopefully, the second edition comes out relatively soon, but we can maybe give you a copy of that someday, or at least you can start with this first edition. All you need to do in order to get that free copy, just go on down, review our podcast, and then send us an email that you’ve done that review with your iTunes username and we will get your information, send you out a free copy of Too Young To Retire. Dr. Ward, thank you so much for joining us here in the podcast. I hope I get to visit you soon down there in West Palm.
Dr. Paul: Thank you very much. Enjoyed being with you this morning, Casey.
Casey: Thank you. Until next time on Retire With Purpose.
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