Disrupt means to cause something to be unable to continue in the normal way. In business, it’s when a new product addresses a market that couldn’t be served. Some examples of disruption include the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and 3D printing.
Unfortunately, over the years, organizations have latched on to the word “disrupt” and attached it to every new product on the market, even if it isn’t disruptive.
I can’t say that I’m trying to disrupt retirement with this blog, but I do hope to share resources that will make the transition for many of us a little better. One person who is trying to genuinely disrupt our thinking is Jo Ann Jenkins, the current CEO of AARP. She recently released a book, aptly titled “Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age”. I received a copy of the book during this year’s BlogHer conference.
One of the things that I really liked about this book was the casual, conversational style that Jenkins talks about aging. The book is filled with stories and is well organized. It includes a resource section so, it’s a book that someone should think about reading before retirement. Then maybe pick it up every couple of years to see how your thoughts about aging and retirement are evolving. For me, there were three big takeaways from the book:
You must take care of you. I mean this in two ways. First, our physical health is important – eating right, exercise, sleep, etc. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a donut, but as we age, we have to think about how to maintain our health and well-being. Disrupting aging is about staying educated about wellness.
We must also find a way to carve out time for our passions. Maybe that’s learning how to play an instrument. Or photography. For me, it’s writing this blog. Taking care of ourselves includes being happy and content. We might not be able to do everything, but we need to find time for enjoyment.
Financial education is important. So often, the entire conversation about retirement is about money. And don’t get me wrong, saving money for retirement is important. But financial education is about more than stocks, annuities, and IRA accounts. To disrupt aging, we get educated and formulate a financial plan for the future.
It’s also about major financial decisions like where to live and whether to rent or buy. Do you want to retire in a walkable city and not own a car? Or live somewhere more remote and figure out how to get around when driving isn’t an option? Financial education is about saving and spending wisely.
Think about an encore. I’m reluctant to say encore career because maybe a second career isn’t what a person wants or needs. But I will say that people need to plan their departure from the workforce. Maybe your encore is moving from full-time to part-time then to full retirement.
It’s possible an encore could involve volunteerism. Or a hobby that turns into a full-time obligation like acting in community theater. Our encore is something that we can pour some energy into. When you get back 8+ hours a day, you probably want to do something with that time in your retirement life.
Efforts to disrupt aging isn’t going to happen overnight. In fact, I’d toss out there that each of us might disrupt aging in our own unique way. But to make the most of our retirement, we have to start thinking about – and planning for – our ability to disrupt aging.