049: How to Live Your Next3rd with Kris Van Der Pas-Norenius
Kris Van Der Pas-Norenius sold her successful business at the age of 55 – and learned a lot of things about retirement the hard way. In the years that followed, she studied and became certified with Retirement Options, then founded Next3rd to help others learn from her experiences and expertise.
At Next3rd, she blogs, connects with followers across Facebook and Twitter, publishes a newsletter, and gives speaking engagements to change how people perceive – and live through – retirement. She helps others cope with loss of identity in retirement, not knowing when it might be your turn, and how to live a purposeful, fulfilling life after your major professional career comes to an end.
I’ve been sharing Kris’s articles for a while now. Today, she joins the podcast to share the difficult questions she found herself asking after she retired, what she discovered about herself the moment she retired, why “rest and relaxation” is often anything but – and how to give, contribute, do, and be more in the last third of your life.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- What Kris’s transition into retirement looked like – and what she learned along the way, and what she would have done differently if she had to retire again.
- Why Kris sees depression as the #1 mental malady of retirement – and what to do about it.
- The common “ageist attitudes” that retirees often think about themselves – and how to get out of these mental traps.
- Why Kris has created Retirement Circles to help people talk about – and become the people they want to be – in retirement.
- How Kris helps someone who’s never set a goal, get started – and the importance and power of self-direction.
- How Kris met her financial planner – and why trust, expertise, and education helped them build their ongoing, two-way working relationship.
“The life plan informs the financial plan, but the financial plan may need to adjust the life plan depending on the resources available.” – Kris van der Pas-Norenius
Casey: Welcome to the Retire With Purpose Podcast. Today we have with us Kris Van Der Pas-Norenius and Kris, welcome to the podcast.
Kris: Thanks so much, Casey. I’m really glad you’re doing these exercises, these podcasts. Good for you.
Casey: Well, it’s really exciting to have the opportunity to have these long formats where I do 30-minute TV shows, I do hour-long radio shows, but typically, we have 5, 10-minute segments and I don’t really have the opportunity to dive into some of these higher-level things when we really have the opportunity to dive into purpose and meaning, and these conversations take a little bit longer but they’re extremely meaningful for the people that we work with every single day and our audience and all of the listenership over fans. So, thank you so much for joining us and as we kick things off here, I’ve got to ask you, I typically interview authors. I’ve interviewed a lot of authors. I’d say maybe every single person I’ve ever interviewed has written a book and you have as well and the book you wrote was Pillow Talk at Tulips & Maple: The Inside Scoop on Cocktail Parties. It may seem like that doesn’t relate to this topic that we’re going to cover here today, Retirement, Your Next Third, but I’ve got to know what’s the inside scoop on cocktail.
Kris: Well, you have to read the book, actually. That was a recipe book from our first business that we had put together. My husband and I owned a catering company, a high-end catering company in Ottawa. He was the chef and I ran everything else in the business and so I would steal secrets from him about all the good entertaining recipes that you can put together.
Casey: So, it’s mainly a recipe book.
Kris: It was a recipe book and it was favorite stories from some of these special catered events that we had done, things like the family dog ate the pâté just before the dinner was being served and things like that. It was lots of fun. So, it was fun to show our creativity and our artistic styling, food styling back in the day, and share our recipes that people love so much. The thing with food, that culinary art gets consumed, so it disappears after it’s been served so this was one way of keeping mementos, memories of those days.
Casey: Well, I assume you had a lot of fun in that career and you did that for over 20 years.
Kris: We did. Yes. A lot of fun. A lot of creativity, a lot of hard work.
Casey: And eventually you left and you moved on and I had read some of your blog posts and some of the different things you’ve spoken about and read about, read about you, and you said that you had some struggles when you sold that business and entered retirement. Can you tell us what that transition looked like for you and some of the struggles that you have?
Kris: Yeah. I will. So, we sold our business and even the process of selling took about a year and my job was to do all the due diligence, get all the work put together, all the documents put together, all the best practices, all that. So, that was time-consuming, and then the whole process of selling your business is time-consuming and emotional because it’s something that you started from scratch, built a successful business over the years, and now you’re at the whim of a buyer and their value of your business. So, that was exhausting actually and hard work. And so, because of that, you don’t have time really to think about what you’re going to do on the other side, what you’re going to do when you all of a sudden don’t have that business. And you don’t have time to think about things like who are you if you’re not your company because of course in the business world you’re identified by the company that you own and the product that you provide to someone. So, after we sold, we did take a five-day vacation and went to the beach and did nothing. We were so tired, but I was 55 and a lot of my friends were still working and all the ideas that I thought I would do, go biking, go hiking, or whatever it was, I couldn’t find friends to do it during the daytime because they were all working and/or they were too busy working in evening time that we didn’t see them as much.
So, I realized then that you’ve got to rethink how you’re going to live in retirement and things do change and then you have to find, perhaps you have to find new tribes, new social circles, new ways of contributing. The other hard part I found for myself was, who am I after working for almost 40 years? I was an engineer before, I was a consultant, whatever. I took my identity from work and then you had to re-find yourself in terms of who you are. So, these are kind of deeper questions that you never had time to think about before that you do once you’re in retirement and luckily, you have the time in retirement to do that if you do. If you don’t, you may get lost a little bit in retirement. So, there was your identity, your social tribes change, of course, you worry a little bit about your finances because in retirement in our case, you’re building wealth all the way through your business then it’s sold and then all of a sudden, you’re drawing from your wealth, which is a very strange feeling when you’re so used to building it. So, your attitudes to finance come into play at the same time. You do have more time to take care of your health so that’s a good thing, I guess. So, there all these different aspects of retirement life that I hadn’t really explored too deeply or have the time to before we sold the business that came to play once I was free and on my own and figuring out things.
Casey: Well, now you help people with this transition and retirement. You help them with this sense of this loss of identity that you speak so much about. How do you help others cope with loss of identity as a step in retirement? Are there any strategies or techniques or questions that you ask to assist with that process?
Kris: Yeah. There’s a lot of thinking to be done, a lot of self-reflection to be done. So, what I had done as I had taken some training, I took some training on retirement coaching. Just through serendipity, I found out about it but it was a very in-depth program for coaching others through this transition, which is one of life’s biggest changes, retirement. And so, when it comes to work identity, some of the questions to think about is how much of your identity comes from work and who would you say you are. How would you describe yourself as who you are and are you going to say I’m an engineer, I’m an accountant or lawyer or are there other things to yourself? And so, I often counsel my clients to reflect back to who they were as a kid. And what were you like as a kid? What was your energy? What was your personality? What was that special gift in you that made you unique as a kid? Because that’s still in there and we just have to bring it out again. So, that’s one way of looking at it. What sparked me as a kid and who was I as a kid?
Casey: What have you seen with people that you’ve asked that question to? Have you seen but you really apply something from their childhood to this next third?
Kris: Yes. So, I’m thinking a few people. One fellow is Dave who is now a triathlete coach and he was always an athlete as a kid. He just loves sports all the time and in his professional career, he was an engineer and had his own engineering companies or part of an engineering firm. So, he retired early and he wanted to go back to sports and his passion at the time was being the triathlete athlete and that he wanted to help others. So, he took courses on becoming a coach and got certified on that. So, now he’s reliving his athletic youth in a very intense sport but he’s helping others as well too. So, there’s one example where he took some time to reflect on what he loved as a kid.
Casey: I think Dave said that it’s much better being pulled to something new than being pushed out the door. What did that mean to him? How did he apply it?
Kris: Well, at our age and it’s funny. I’ve been talking to a lot of my peers and of course, retirement is on their mind, and some of them are still working very engaging careers, but they never know if it’s going to be their turn for early retirement. It may not be in their choice. For Dave, it was his choice but for others in their mid-50s, late 50s, early 60s they may be pushed out the door to early retirement without a lot of thought behind it. So, there’s one push. The other push is I would say it’s a retirement from so they’re in drudgery at work. They don’t like the Monday to Friday, whatever it is, 8 to 6, fighting the traffic or whatever. They just want out. But they haven’t thought about what they’re going to go to. So, it’s much better to have something to look forward to, to plan for, to bring out the best of you in the future in retirement as opposed to I just want to get out. It’s more of a negative approach to retirement and it reflects in some of the old attitudes about retirement as well.
Casey: Well, you said that you learn the hard way so did you not do a real good job with this?
Kris: I always had dreams. I had an idea of how I wanted to live retirement life for sure. I didn’t have the time in that last year of the business getting the business ready for sale and through all the deal negotiating to spend more time reflecting on exactly how. So, I knew a bit of a break. I knew for me I was going to take a year and I for myself I was going to take a year off no volunteering because when you’re a business owner, you’re out there how many nights a week in volunteer capacities, which I enjoy and you’re contributing and so on. But I knew that I wanted to take a year off and reflect on what was important to me, where did I want to contribute, and how. And so, for myself, I took some time. I did some reading. I did some learning and that helped me start somewhere so I was inspired by a couple of books and I thought, “Oh, I want to get involved in my community this way.” And so, that’s just a step and then as one step starts, a new one begins and you just kind of go from step to step and what is a vague idea at first starts to become more crystal-clear and you understand some of your core essence and how you can contribute in the near term.
Casey: If you could go back to maybe the year you retired or right after or before, what would you do differently?
Kris: Take a longer vacation after we sold for sure. That was too short.
Casey: Should’ve been more. It should’ve been more than five days.
Kris: Yeah. It should’ve been more than five days.
Casey: Well, and really in all seriousness, there’s something too that, right? I mean, there’s a reason that should have been longer.
Kris: I mean, we were just tired from all the negotiating. And for us, it was an emotional fatigue because you’re emotionally involved in a deal. You think about when people buy and sell their houses. They do become an emotional deal to a certain extent. So, just times that by 10 when it’s your business, so that part. I probably would’ve done a little bit more reading on retirement and things to look for aspects of life, happiness, that I should’ve done a little bit more of that I would say in the past. I think in the back of my mind I thought I would probably still work part-time in consulting and so on. So, I wasn’t focused too much on a full retirement life. I just wanted a more free or flexible life where I can dictate my schedule and that I did do. I would say the other thing for me and perhaps what I didn’t realize when we sold the business was how much stress I really was under. I mean, you live this life for 23 years and then it’s gone. And then that’s when you realize how much weight you’ve been carrying in terms of responsibility as an entrepreneur. You’re responsible for all the 50 employees that are working for you, for tax bills or whatever it is. And you don’t realize it until you’re out of it, how much stress you are under. So, that was a bit of a learning lesson for me and recognizing that my life was not in balance in terms of some of those aspects. So, taking some time for me time I should’ve done more of that before.
Afterwards, so because of that, because of that stress, I really needed a break from all things business in our city. It’s a fairly small city so in the business world, almost other entrepreneurs and you know you can go to all the business award dinners and galas and all that good stuff and I just wanted a break from all that. And I probably broke too much, so I let go of some relationships that perhaps I should’ve still maintained. Because you don’t know where you’re going to end up in consulting and retiring and it is a small world and you do find new opportunities and new doors so it’s always good to kind of keep your relationships strong.
Casey: Well, some of these struggles you had as you made your transition, loss of identity, and social circles, you often quote Dr. Richard P. Johnson and you have a quote on your blog, “Depression is the number one mental malady of retirement.” Why do you think depression is the number one mental malady of retirement and did you experience this?
Kris: I wouldn’t say depression. It was more a recognition of what was of some of the elements that were missing in my life so part of it was the tribes, the social connectedness. And so, I knew I had to rebuild some tribes and start new tribes and find new ways of tribes, keeping some old friendships, of course. What he means by that is very – I think a lot of people have mixed messages about what retirement is. If we were going to listen to the marketers of the world, retirement is about rest and relaxation. You don’t have to worry about a thing. You don’t have to do anything. You’re just going to live on the beach for the rest of your life. And the reality is that is a recipe for depression, for a feeling of emptiness and feeling lost very quickly if you’re doing “nothing” all day, So, you have this mixed message that retirement is about rest and relaxation and doing nothing. It’s all about living a life of leisure, whereas your body is telling you, “I want to do more. There’s more in me to give. There’s more for me to contribute. I want to be a part of something that’s bigger. It may not be for a large corporation or something, but I have an essence and I have something to offer still.”
And so, there’s this kind of discrepancy between the two, a conflict between the two and so people are getting confused about what retirement, what should I be doing and maybe I should just be resting and relaxing and so they are starting to feel lost and confused and low. They could be low also because they don’t have connectedness. They don’t have a purpose. There’s no meaning in their life. Maybe they’ve let go of some family relationships. Their health, they haven’t taken care of their health. So, there are other aspects here or their finances are in shape for them as well. So, these are all other subsets of retirement that we need to think about but really I do believe it’s kind of this misconception of about what retirement is supposed to be and the reality is it’s different for everybody and it’s important to find that meaning in life that will give you vitality and luster and fun and connectedness as well.
Casey: Well, let’s talk about the meaning of retirement to you. As you made this transition, eventually you started the next third. What is the next third, to share that with our listeners if you would? We’ve used your articles. I do a weekend reading for retirees every Friday. They sent out four articles from my desk to the families that have signed up to receive that and I’ve actually used some of your blog posts because I found them insightful but I guess for those listening that aren’t sure what the next third is, what is the next third?
Kris: It’s your third act of life, really. It’s your next third and we look at our life expectancy now and in Canada, I think the average age of life expectancy is about 82. At the States, a couple years younger. So, we have a longer life ahead of us, on average, if not into our 90s. We know a lot of 90-year-olds and older and we’re retiring earlier. So, our retirement phase could be one of the longest phases of our life, hence, the next third. So, thinking about 30 years of retirement, do you really want to stay on a beach for 30 years so this goes back to meaning so how are we going to live a full life in retirement, have fun, have leisure, maybe have a creative outlet, find meaning in our life, work towards a purpose, find connectedness in life, be our best self in our next third. It’s a good time.
Casey: What is your mission and purpose? So, you talk a lot about mission and purpose and meaning. What is that to you at this point? Is it the next third? Is it this whole idea of redefining the definition of retirement or what is it for Kris?
Kris: Yeah. It’s a little bit of both. I was reflecting on that today and I know there is a root theme I guess in all my activities that I do that and part of that is bringing people together connectedness. And also, I guess I do tend to fight the norm in certain ways or outdated attitudes and one of the outdated attitudes is about old age, is about retirement, is about seniors and so on. And so, helping to my goal is to help inspire and educate others on what can make a fulfilling life in our next third and to fight the ageist attitudes perhaps, at the same time building community around it as well.
Casey: Well, now I have to ask. You said ageist attitudes and I guess I didn’t really ever thought about ageist bias and you had brought up, you said, “Retirees, are you unknowingly accepting an ageist bias?” So, what is an ageist biased?
Kris: Well, I’m too old to do this. I’m too old to do that. I’m useless, this attitude of retiring go away and then me and not contribute. You’re no longer important. You’re no longer of value to society. That’s one ageist attitude. The other ageist attitude, you flip it around and look at the opinions and attitudes towards our millennials for instance and these catchall phrases about millennials. So, it’s either way. It’s saying any generation but it’s this catchall thinking about a group of demographics and in our case for the boomers really, some boomers, people looking to the boomers and we see it in the workplace. I thought we got it at work. Our young employees were teasing us and saying, “Oh, you guys are old-school,” and they wouldn’t honor the wisdom that perhaps we’ve built over the years and they thought their ideas were brand new and exciting and we could say, “Well, yeah, we did that already but go ahead. Have fun.” Anyway, so it’s that attitude so as I said it’s really the marketing. In some ways, it’s kind of sad. If you research retirement, what’s going to come up on a Google search is going to be these retirement homes. They’re calling them retirement homes which is really for the way they present it. Senior care and eldercare is not an exciting place to look forward to. It’s kind of a narrow view I would say of retirement.
So, I like to turn the thinking around a little bit and recognize that this could be our best time of life. Where you are now is your best time in life but it doesn’t have to be all dull gloomy. We don’t have to focus on the decline of our body but we can focus on the growth of our person as ourselves. Are we learning more? How can we volunteer? What wisdom and talents can we share? There’s so much more to give, as opposed to being put out to pasture.
Casey: Well, you have put together some different programs in the Next3rd. One of those being retirement circles to help people with this process of entering their next third, this transition into retirement or semi-retirement for many. What are retirement circles?
Kris: So, it’s a small intimate gathering, maybe 10 or 12 people and we just sit around and it’s a conversation starter. So, what I discovered when I was coaching couples especially getting them ready for retirement was they don’t talk about this. There is some topics. We don’t really sit down and say, “Well, how do we want a relationship to be where we want to live? What kind of leisure activities do we want to do? How will we connect with our families? What kind of grandparents do we want to be?” They don’t really sit down and talk about some of these things. So, the idea of the retirement circle was just to start conversations and for those people within the circle, I mean, it’s meant to be a comfortable setting. My personal goal is to help them realize that they’re not alone that we’re all thinking about these same ideas and we have the same questions about retirement. So, I would prompt them with open-ended questions and we just go with those who want to contribute, contribute, and we just kind of talk about, they explore certain topics that relate to retirement life and we explore our attitudes to some of these things, our attitudes to health, our attitudes to retirement. Where do they come from? Our attitudes to leisure or work. Do we only focus on our identity through work or is there another way that we could build our identity? So, it’s really a conversation.
Casey: And out of these conversations, I’m thinking you probably attract a certain demographic. Some certain characteristics of people that are really interesting in attending an event like this. What are the common characteristics of the people that join you at these?
Kris: I would say intelligent, probably most of them have strong careers and successful in their careers. I would say they are, they all want to have a full life, and in some ways, some of them are a little afraid of retirement because they don’t want to feel has been, I guess. They still want to contribute somehow and they’re not quite sure how to go about it. There are some differences between men and women. Men have a harder time finding a new identity or reconnecting with their real identity if you say it that way. And sometimes men have a harder time finding meaning in life. That’s all the goals and building the business or protecting the family or whatever so having a deeper thought about that sometimes is a bit more challenging for them. Not always, but sometimes. The women seem to have, a lot of women seem to have other activities already to help them cope with the transition through retirement. So, just working through and talking through some of those as well.
Casey: Well, I imagine as a very successful business owner and engineer, a consultant, you’ve always been a very goal-oriented individual. You probably had some of those struggles going from all these typically monetary or business-oriented goals, winning certain awards or having a business of certain sizes, these different accomplishments. How have those goals shifted and how have you applied that same goal setting principles to retirement?
Kris: I’ve actually I think I was a goal setter before the career. I remember as a kid having dreams all the time and I have one childhood dream that I’m still working on now and that’s to visit all the continents of the world. So, I’ve got two left. I’m almost there.
Casey: What are you missing?
Rick: Antarctica and Australia. Actually, so that I think helped me in my retirement is my desire to set goals because that drives me a little bit and that forces me out of my comfort zone. So, this year was a milestone year for me in terms of birthdays and so I took some time to stop and reflect about what I want to do, how I wanted to live my life, I love being active and skiing and so on. So, I set down some goals about doing that. I’ve always been a dreamer, and so what I did do for myself is I applied some of the principles and concepts that I have learned and applied in strategic planning actually to my own life. And so, instead of a corporate vision, I really reflected on my own personal vision and the type of person I like to be, the type of life I’d like to lead, my contributions, who I’m with, the energy that I want to give, where I live, what I see. All that I wrote up in a couple of paragraphs. From there I set one-year goals, five-year goals, ten-year goals and then what I do is my one-year goal I separate into seasons. This is what I want to work on towards my one-year goal. Next season is that. And so, that helps me make sure my retirement is more fulfilling. It’s so yummy. I am guilty. I love to get on my phone and play my sudoku or my crosswords or whatever and I can wilt away an hour doing that. So, this helps me stay focused on meaning in my life and my dreams in my life and do the more important things as opposed to just playing games all day long.
So, that’s what I do and some people aren’t goal setters and they’d rather have a little bit more flexibility but that’s what works for me. And that’s who I’ve been all my life is always setting goals and so now that’s what I do in life. I even jump at the cottage, so this is what I did. I don’t know if I’ll do that again but one of the big challenges which was a fear factor for me, we have a huge jumping rock at the lake, at the cottage. It’s 30 feet high and I jumped off that rock, landed in the water. So, that’s as an example of a little thing just to make life exciting.
Casey: Yeah. We just – I think we constantly have to have goals but I am surprised. I’ve been one that has been setting goals since I was a little kid. There was always a goal. I was always writing down my goals. They’re always stuck on my mirror. I experienced a lot of coaching as a kid in setting goals from parents and then outside institutions and schooling but I find that a lot of people don’t have that same experience. They’ve never set goals before. They don’t really know where to even begin and how do you evaluate an appropriate goal. How do someone that’s never really set goals before because I think even for those that aren’t real goal oriented, that’s okay maybe when you’re working it. It’s not as imperative when you know that you have to be at work at 8. You have to leave at five and the business or the employer is already putting down all your goals for you. You know what you have to have there. You know the quotas you have to meet, the goals you have to accomplish, and I think we have to learn to set our own goals in retirement even if we’ve never done that before even if we’re not very goal oriented, so that we have this mission, so we have this purpose. How do you help those that have never set a goal get started?
Kris: That’s a really key point, Casey. I’m really glad you brought that up and that’s one characteristic we really need to have is a little bit of self-directedness and if we haven’t had much of that at work, we have to practice and build that while we’re in retirement and retirement is a time to do it. Otherwise, you will just drift off and waste your time. What I would say to those who haven’t had the experience or not inclined to do the goal setting is don’t see it as goals but do think about dreams and think about what is your life dream and maybe you had a life dream during your career. Maybe it was about career growth and so on. Can you come up with a new life dream in your next third, in your next 30 years? Like, how do you want to live your life? Just paint that picture and to me, that’s what a vision is. It’s a picture. So, I will often get them to draw, draw stick figures, whatever, but just draw an image of what their future will be like, what the ideal retirement life is like for them. So, that’s where I start with and then we extract some ideas about that and, okay, well let’s timeline that a little bit. What could you work on sooner than later and put us in activities that you could do now or in the season or whatever? And so, that’s how I bring about goal setting with those who may not like the idea of goals and checklist and all that good stuff but really, it’s about that picture, that dream.
And some people are visual. Before the Internet, I would have a book and I would cut out pictures from magazines of things that inspired me for my lifestyle and I would flip through that just to remind me of what was important to me in life. So, in that way Pinterest or whatever app you want to use, images or whatever. For those who are visual, just flip through that. Just have a practice of going through those images that inspire you for the ideal life that you like to have in retirement.
Casey: Does this process of setting goals, creating this timeline, envisioning retirement, does this ultimately involve in what you call a practical life plan?
Rick: It’s part of a practical life plan. The hard work in a practical life plan is doing some self-reflecting and recognizing where our strengths are vis-a-vis having a full retirement life or enabling a full retirement life and what areas that perhaps we need to focus on to get there. So, that’s the ultimate goal is to have this, your life plan, and it doesn’t have pages and pages. It could just be a couple of images or something. But we need to do our homework beforehand. We need to understand what’s important to us. We need to understand gaps that we may need to work on to get to our goal as well. So, it’s a little self-reflection. Through our coaching programs, we do some really strong self-diagnosis. So, we have retirement readiness assessments that are very comprehensive so that gives them a clue of how they’re doing some of the factors that are contributing to a solid retirement, a good happy fulfilling retirement. So, that’s a starting point to look at.
Casey: With this retirement readiness assessment that I guess you have this completed by participants before they attend your groups. What do you find to be the most insightful question on that questionnaire?
Kris: So, that questionnaire is more like if you think about the old personality profile questionnaires, that’s a type of an assessment it is. There’s not really one question there that is insightful. I find questions about attitudes are insightful because we don’t often think about where our attitudes come from, and attitudes really are the mother of all behavior as Dr. Johnson will say. It’s the source of our beliefs, our thinking, our perspective, our decisions, and our actions. So, if we actually stop and think about our attitude. So, what are our attitudes to retirement let’s say? Who has modeled our ideas of retirement? Was it our parents? Do they have a happy retirement? Do they have a lazy retirement? Do they turn into alcoholics? That will affect your attitude to retirement. So, I find those are very insightful where our attitudes come from and those of course were some of the hardest things to change our attitudes but, anyway, I think attitudes to a lot of things, health, retirement, finances. What’s our attitude to money? How do we see money? Is it about status? Is it about keeping up with the Joneses? We don’t talk about money. Those things can affect your retirement life as well. So, anything about attitudes I think is a good place to start and reflect on them.
Casey: Well, let’s expand on the money attitude. You had a blog post titled how your money attitude can make or break your retirement. So, how can your money attitude, I guess, I could see how it could make your retirement. How could it break your retirement?
Kris: Well, if you have an unhealthy approach to management or let’s say an immature approach to your money-management so you know a good financial plan is based on facts really, numbers, objectives, goals as well, expected lifestyle and so on. But let’s give an example. Let’s just say we don’t talk about money so my family we didn’t talk about money. We never knew how much anybody else made. Money was always tight. We always had to have a budget with the groceries. We could never afford the nice car, although we had a comfortable lifestyle. So, I grew up thinking we’ll never have enough, we never have enough money. My husband, who comes from Holland whose parents lived through World War II have a different, are always worried about money. They’re worried about security and safety and all that good stuff. So, between my husband and I, we are very careful with their money so we’re very nervous about our nest egg. And so, we may be restricting ourselves more than we need to because of our attitudes about money. We never have enough money or it’s something that shouldn’t be touched unless there’s an emergency or something like that.
So, there is an example of one attitude that may not be serving your retirement as well and our financial planner had to tell us many times, “You guys are okay,” but it took us a few days to accept the fact that, okay, maybe we’ll be okay.
Casey: Well, do you think that the practical life plan or the practical financial plan is one more important than the other? Does one start before the other? How do you marry the two?
Kris: Well, I would say the financial planning needs to begin early in your career especially now when I think there’s a less than a quarter of us now who can really count on a company pension plan. So, to me, we need to start early in financial planning. You know that better than I do. I would say the life plan informs the financial plan but then the financial plan may need to adjust the life plan depending on the resources available. So, they work together. We can start out with the big dreams. Sure. I’d love to live in three or four countries around the world but my finances aren’t going to let me do that. Maybe there’s an alternative way I can see these countries, for instance. But I think they do go together. I also reflect on one of the fellows that I wrote about Bernard who was a planner and he did start early. He ended up retiring early. I think he was 52 but he started financial planning early so he really was taking care of his money earlier on, and he was also developing his life plan early. And I had to laugh because he was saying in his 30s or 40s, he figured he wants to golf all the time in retirement but as you age your priorities change and you realize that there are other things that are more important. So, in his 50s, when he did retire, he realized that’s not what I want to do. I want to contribute to certain ways. He found meaning in helping environmental organizations in his neighborhood plus he travels and skis and so on. What you think you’d want a retirement in your youth may change over time. But the financial planning, we need all along.
Casey: When you have a financial advisor, you wrote about Nancy Graham. Did I pronounce that correctly? And I’m wondering, I mean, Nancy must have had a tough time with you and that you had all kinds of great questions for her. How did you find Nancy and what did that process look like for you? Why did you start working with Nancy? Did she help you with the life planning? There are so many good questions there, I think.
Kris: I would say it boils down for, in our case, it boils down to trust and I had known. I’ve met Nancy through business, through business networking and I had known her a long time and she had invited me to certain events and I’d liked her attitude towards financial planning. She had nothing to sell. She had no financial products to sell. So, it was really about coming up with something that was whole for you and understanding our needs. So, first of all, it was knowing the person. Second of all was feeling trust in her and faith in the expertise involved. And then she added onto that. She would invite us to various speakers so we had a very interesting speaker speak about the market and how we can’t control the market so she educated us as well along the way. So, I went to her. We went to her based on that feeling of trust and expertise and education and then she helped us along in terms of the financial planning side of things and our situation was different. We had family trust. We had businesses and all that stuff so it was a bit more complicated. She was willing to work with our accountants and our lawyers and so it was a team approach for our situation that helped us as well. And liked her because she was just down to earth and she would ask the frank questions. She’s a good farm girl so she’d ask the good frank questions which was what we needed.
Casey: Well, we like to have these conversations, the families we work with, about creating this practical life plan and that’s why it’s called Retire With Purpose and creating this purpose-based retirement but I got to say sometimes when we start asking some these questions, we get kind of a glazed over look. People wonder why we are asking what money was like when they’re a kid and some of these fluffier questions, but you just said, I mean, it’s so important to make sure you have a practical life plan that leads you to the practical financial plan. I’m just wondering how can advisors have these conversations with their clients that can really help them just get on the right path so that they put together the appropriate financial plan that’s based on this practical life plan.
Kris: I think sometimes it helps clients to have a little questionnaire, a list of questions for them to think about in terms of retirement life for them to take home and reflect about and talk together about say what are your ideas about leisure, what are your ideas, where do you want to live in retirement? What kind of activities do you want to take up? What kind of education? What kind of learning do you want to do? What kind of volunteer work do you want to do? What about our kids? How much are we going to help out our adult kids? What about the grandkids? How are we contributing there? What about eldercare? What role do we want to play? Are we taking in our parents? Are we going to help them find a place or are we going to help them take care of their home, things like that? So, giving them some fields of questions for them to reflect on at home and quiet together maybe over a cup of coffee or glass of wine or something helps, I think. It gives them, it helps them understand more. Because as you mentioned, a lot of people think, “Oh, I’m just going to go on vacation for the rest of my life,” and there’s more to retirement than just a trip here and there.
Casey: When you said why a life of leisure isn’t. Why a life of leisure is not good for us? Why is it not good for us?
Kris: Well, leisure. So, they’re finding that leisure really is a fundamental human need. We need to have leisure in our life to rejuvenate us and to give us a break but leisure if that’s the only thing we do no longer becomes leisure. Leisure becomes our work. So, we have to have the work first to have a break from. And we see this often. I see it often on the golf course actually so you’ll see these high-powered executives who retired and they belonged to the golf club for whatever and now they go golfing almost every day and they turned their golf into work. They’ve got goals, they’re checking their score. It’s no longer a break for them. They’re not enjoying the moment but they’ve turned it into work. So, then they have to find another source of leisure.
Casey: So. leisure can be a good thing and if it leads us into creating more relationships, giving us a purpose, giving us ability to establish goals. One of your post said, “A healthier relationship makes for a healthy retirement.” I guess this was a quote from Dr. Richard Johnson again. A healthy relationship makes for a healthy retirement. An okay relationship makes for an okay retirement. Well, a chronically sick relationship makes for a disaster. And then you had six essentials to a healthy relationship for a happy retirement. What did this post mean to you? What did this quote from Richard Johnson mean to you?
Kris: They’re finding that so in retirement and I find this with my husband and I is just the two of you in the house and all of a sudden during your working life, at least during the days, you’re usually not together. In our case, our offices were in different parts of the building. All of a sudden, you could be 24/7 together and have you forgotten what to talk about or have you gotten so used to each other that you’ve taken for granted or other little idiosyncrasies that happen over time starting to get to you. So, how do you renegotiate your space together, your life together? How you reconnect and so on? So, relationships are really key, especially your intimate relationship, your most confidential relationship are really key to your retirement lifestyle. And just as he said, if it’s not been a good relationship and if you’re not willing to put the work in and to make it better, you might be in trouble. If you still have an okay relationship and still don’t re-energize it or reflect or try to work on it to connect a little bit more, communicate, whatever it is. Yeah. So, like really? Is that what you want? It’s really important to have a confidant. We want to have a confidant. This is good for your mental health is someone you can be yourself with, share your fears with, share your hopes with, and so on.
And so, we may not have our own partner with us, but if we have a best friend or somebody that we can talk to those relationships you really need and you really need to take care of and they’re two-way. It’s not one person always serving the other or taking care of the other person. It’s two-way. You want to have that really deep connection. It’s such a good feeling. Now, think about it when you have really good conversation with a good friend or your spouse or whatever and you’re really in tuned, you’re in sync. You feel really good about that. You feel good inside, outside, in your head, everywhere. It’s just a nice feeling and we need that.
Casey: Well, David Bach was one of our past guests and he said to us that gray divorce is the fastest-growing segment of divorce and it’s probably in part because of this. We are now together 24/7. We haven’t really necessary been there before. We’ve been working. We’ve had other things. Now, we’re together and we largely have had these conversations, I find this pretty much across most of the families that we meet with. These couples have never had these conversations about retirement, what they want to do on retirement, what the goal of retirement is, what their purpose is, what their legacy is going to be. And you’ve probably ran across this. How can couples get ahead of that hard transition into retirement and just start these conversations? What should these conversations be focused on?
Kris: They could focus on different areas. One could be, the easier one to start with might be leisure. What do you want to do for leisure? Living, where do you want to live? What hobbies do you want to take on? What interest do you want to fulfill? So, having a conversation actually listening, active listening, listen to understand each other. They may want to think about, well, so health and finance. What do you want to do about health and finance? I actually have a good friend who worked very, very hard and been taking care of her health. And now that she’s retired, this is her number one goal. She’s spending her mornings taking care of her health and building on it. So, recognizing, letting the partner know this is my priority right now. Let me grow in this area. Yeah. When I went back to the relationships, when I was reading this, I thought, yeah, this is a reminder.
When you’re first married, your first 10 years of marriage and so on, you’re taking care of this. You want to know about relationships and you’re learning and reading books about this and magazines or whatever it is, blog, whatever it is. But then after a while, you kind of get into your routines and you may forget about this. Reading that and writing that post reminded me is, you know what, maybe we need to reconnect again and we reset the compass a little bit on how we communicate, when we communicate, spending some time together, accepting each other, not criticizing each other, things like that.
Casey: Do you mind sharing any specific struggles that you and your husband have went through?
Kris: Let’s see. Well, so I was home first. He was still working for a while and so I got used to having my space at the house and my office is at home so I was quiet around and I’m kind of – I can be a calm person. He’s an active person. He likes to be busy, busy, busy and then when he came home, he was busy. He was all over the house and kitchen, wherever he was, and there was energy around him all the time and I wasn’t centered anymore because I was interrupted with his energy so we just kind of had to have a little chat and say, “Okay. Look, you can’t take over the whole house. I need some spot somewhere. Let me have my spot.” So, that’s a little thing but it’s just recognizing that we’re different, we’re different people, and don’t forget to honor the difference in each other.” I mean, you married them for a reason and remember those reasons and honor their idiosyncrasies. Idiosyncrasies I think increase as we age. It’s just my feeling but it feels like that. And just to honor it. I mean, it’s a gift, a gift in each other. We’re all a little different and we all bring a different essence and energy and honor it because they’re not like you. Don’t criticize them because they’re not like you. It’s good to be different.
Casey: Well, I’ve been married to my wife, Chelsea, for the last seven years and most of the people I meet with, they’ve been married for 30, 40, 50, even 60 years or more and then sometimes I’ll forget. I know we both forget sometimes, well, I really love this person. I love these attributes and why we married them in the first place and just revisiting those things I would think would be so valuable. You had said earlier that one of the things you would do differently if you could go back and kind of do retirement transition all over again was you’d read more. You would read more books. So, I’m curious, what books would be at the top of that stack?
Kris: It’s a good question. Which one I would read? I would read Maya Angelou. I would read her a little bit, one of her books and I would probably reread the Seven Habits.
Casey: Wait. Who was that?
Kris: Maya Angelou.
Casey: Okay. A-N-G-E-L-O-U?
Kris: Yep. And also, Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I’m going to read that one again.
Casey: I’m curious. So, why, Stephen? You would think of that more as kind of a career-starting book. Not necessarily one that you’d read as you’re transitioning into retirement. I think every entrepreneur and business person has probably read that book. But why would you read it as you transition into retirement?
Kris: To remind me of some of those attributes that could still be applied to retirement, to remind me that I still have a life of contribution to give and to not waste my time.
Casey: That’s awesome. So, thank you so much, Kris. As you’ve shared so much with us, but you’ve got these resources out there to connect with the next third, to get involved in readiness circles. Can you share with this how we might be able to – how our listeners might be able to connect with you and get engaged?
Kris: Sure. Well, they can go on my website, Next3rd.com. I’m sure you’ll put it up.
Casey: It’ll be in a link to the show notes. Yes.
Kris: Good. They can sign up for the newsletter and follow the blog, follow the Facebook page, Next3rd, and if they’re in the area, I’m in Ottawa, Canada so we do our retirement circles here. Come and visit. Beautiful snowy Ottawa.
Casey: Well, I was going to say when we first kick on video here, I saw a whole bunch of snow on that pine outside your window. Here in Northern Indiana, we don’t have quite that much snow yet so you probably have a tough time getting people from Florida come up and visit you.
Kris: I think so. Well, we can always do – we also do talks and so on. I’ll give presentations and seminars as well too.
Casey: Great. We’ll put a link in the show notes, make sure we can find you there. And this just popped in my head. When we are first kicking off the podcast interview, before we got started, we had some technical difficulties. Your camera was facing the wrong direction. I got some insight behind-the-scenes look at what it looks like you might be working on right now and maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is just some random thing you’ve jotted down but you had jotted down, I tried to write it and I’m not sure I spelled it correctly. I think it looked like LOSRE, luminosity, beauty, distinctness. What’s this mean?
Kris: Ah, yes. So, this is LUSTRE. So, this is what I really encourage everybody to – I mean, this is the whole point of getting ready for your next third is to show your luster so you can look at elder people. Some of them are sunk in their chair and they’ve kind of lost life but we want to keep our life. We want to keep our essence. So, this is an element of luster, having luster in your life, and part of it is that luminosity or that shine or radiance that you have and part of it is your own inner beauty when we’re happy to beautiful. So, that’s really what it’s all about. It’s just bringing out that vitality and luster in your life.
Casey: That’s awesome. I’m sure you felt so many people, probably thousands of people at this point find their luster in life and I hope you continue to do what you’re doing and it’s a great service for retirees and pre-retirees that are out there. This generation of retirees is so large that got such a long future ahead of them. They can make such a huge contribution and you’re helping them do that. Kris, I thank you so much and thank you for coming on the podcast.
Kris: Thank you, Casey, and back at you. You’ve been doing a lot of good service as well. So, good for you.
Casey: All right. Thank you.
Kris: Take care.
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