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Rethink Retirement – well-being beyond your bank account | Clare Davenport | TEDxBYU

Transcriber: Annet Johnson
Reviewer: gaith Takrity Do you ever dream of retirement? What’s your retirement dream? Is it pure bliss and relaxation? Can you almost feel that warm wind? Taste those fruity umbrella drinks? Lounging by the pool, endless games of golf,
walking on the beach? I’ve always loved vacations, haven’t you? So I think we’re really going to love
this constant vacation space in retirement too, right? It actually reminds me of a couple I know. Let’s call them, “Jeff and Jenny.” They’ve dreamt of retirement for years. Jeff had worked at the same company
for over 30 years. He knew everybody. He was the life of the place.

And Jenny, she’d often worked two jobs
so they’d have enough. They finally did. They moved to sunny Florida, of course. But something strange started to happen. Jeff seemed lost, lonely. They started to nip at each other. They started to quarrel. And Jenny, although she was
beginning to make community, really didn’t like to golf. She’d never been that sporty. She missed her long-time book club. She missed her best friends, her kids, her soon-to-be grandchild. What was going on? Had they not done everything right? They’d moved to sunny Florida. They’d worked with
a smart financial advisor. They’d saved enough. I ask you, if this is the dream vision
for retirement – You see it in the adverts. Why is it that so many are
dissatisfied at this age? Why is it that depression
increases by 40%? Why is it [that] substance abuse,
divorce rates are climbing? Why is everyone lonely? And people’s self-worth is low? Surely we can do better than this. Look, I’ve spent many years consulting and coaching and researching
the ideas, tools, and frameworks that best support us
during times of transition, like retirement.

Look, I’m not here to tell you
whether you should or shouldn’t retire, because maybe you should
or maybe you shouldn’t. It is up to you to design and discover. But I do want to share with you
what I know about these life changes, these life quakes, these life disruptors so we don’t end up
in a situation like Jeff and Jenny. Look, we know that transitions
are a regular part of life. They can be trying and triumphant.

They can be predictable and unpredictable because life often
doesn’t follow a straight line. But my research and others’ shows us
that if we bring our intention and attention to them,
we can improve our well-being. And we can improve our well-being
in retirement too. I like to think of it as an ROI,
a return on investment. But this time for our well-being. Think of it as the “ROI”
beyond our bank account, an investment portfolio
in human flourishing, your flourishing in retirement.

Where “R” is where we reframe
our current definition of retirement. “O” is where we optimize
the well-being in retirement. And “I” is where we ignite
our way forward. So let’s “ROI,” Reframe, Optimize,
and Ignite, your retirement. Let’s start with “R”: reframe. Let’s reframe your current
definition of retirement. Look, even the word retirement
sends shivers down my spine. I really don’t like that word much.

And when I look up the word “retire”
in a thesaurus, I see the strangest words: retreat, remove, exit, my personal favorite, “go to bed.” And, although I get it – It is very, very tempting
to go to bed sometimes, it does imply that we are
fading from life when in fact these years can be
some of our best years, some of our most flourishing years. So then, how did it start? Well, historically, we never
abruptly retired. We gently moved from one stage
to another in life. And then rumor has it, this gentleman – I think he looks a bit scary, actually, German Chancellor, Otto Van Bismarck,
in 1889, created this idea, this invention of retirement
when he put in place disability insurance for those over 70. This idea was radical. But other countries followed suit,
making retirement age between 65 and 70. But what’s interesting about
this time period of 1889 was the life expectancy
was less than 44 years. A far cry from our 80′ish years today. So to be clear, this definition
or invention of retirement is over 100 years old and we have almost doubled our lifespan.

So surely, can we not all agree that
we need to reframe, rethink, redesign … our retirement definition? Next, let’s “O” of the ROI, let’s optimize. Let’s optimize our well-being
in retirement. And it’s here we can learn
from some great science and research. Edward Jones asked over 9,000 retirees, “What gives you fulfillment
in retirement?” Their answers: being authentic, spending
time with those they care for, they love, doing interesting things,
things that help them grow, and being generous, giving back. Interestingly, money was
at the bottom of the list. And, look, we know that money can
bring us freedom and flexibility. But research consistently shows us
that above a base level, money is not the secret ingredient
to happiness in life or in retirement. It’s also interesting to examine
the disconnect between what retirees are thinking about – connection, contribution, community, and pre-retirees are thinking about, which is pretty much their bank accounts
and this vacation view of retirement. And when we look at
this vacation view of retirement, we find that over time it becomes the norm and starts to lack the joy it once did. It’s probably why
Berkeley researchers found that we have a sugar rush
of well-being when we first retire and then a year or two later
a fairly sharp decline.

Behavioral economists might call it
hedonic adaptation, where one more umbrella drink, one more golf game just loses its sparkle. We can also look into the world
of positive psychology as we continue to “O”, optimize. We can examine the science of
what makes for a good life, a happy life, a life better than fine. And it goes by the acronym, PERMAV. I like to think of it
as my well-being playbook where “P” is positive emotion,
feeling good, hopeful, inspired, loving. It’s like a micro moment of joy: a good laugh, a good meal. “E” is engagement. Having interests in pursuits that fully
captivate us and take us away: help us grow, our relationships, having loving and authentic relationships
with another, with groups, with communities.

“M” is meaning, that sense of purpose,
something beyond ourselves. “A” is accomplishment, having positive progress in life. And “V” is vitality, investing in our bodies, in our minds,
because they both matter and they work together. Look, these elements collectively
make up our well-being. They matter, they work together, and we have to bring our attention
and intention to them because they can change. So it’s super important
in retirement to focus on these. We can also learn from the
blue zones of the world, those zones where people
fully embrace the PERMAV elements. They live flourishing lives and they live
an extra 10 to 15 years than most of us. The word retirement doesn’t even exist. Take Marie, for example. She’s amazing. She's 101, has her own garden. walks over a mile a day,
volunteers five days a week, and spends a lot of time
with her great friends and her six great grandchildren. She is thriving. She is optimizing her retirement years. Next, “I” of the ROI. Let’s ignite our path forward. Let’s take action. Let’s explore ideas. Let's sneak up on the future.

We know that life is not
a fixed destination but rather a continual design project. There’s not one best option for us. There's many great options
for us in retirement. We also know to break down
our ideas and our actions. We break them down small, so we feel comfortable taking action. We have a conversation, we explore an idea, we learn something new, but in a safe way. So we take some action. We adjust and edit and we take a little more action
as we ignite our way forward. So in closing, I invite you, all of you, to have a conversation
about your retirement. But maybe a little differently this time. It is never too early
and it’s never too late. Let’s create a retirement canvas full of the colors and
textures of well-being and ignited by our boundless
designs and imaginations, like Jeff and Jenny did. They moved back from Florida. They still vacation there sometimes. They bought a smaller condo,
two doors down from their best friend. Jeff decided to go back to work part-time, and he’s taking improv
classes twice a week. And Jenny, she’s enrolled
in doing a Masters in English and still loving her long-time book club.

They are prioritizing their friends, their family, and their new grandchild. They are thriving. So … what about you? Let’s begin to ROI
your retirement chapter. Let’s start with “R”, refrain. What does retirement now mean to you? And what beliefs are
no longer serving you? “O”, optimize. Who and what will you prioritize and how will you use your many,
many strengths and skills? And how does this compare
with those you care for? And “I”, ignite. What is one small step
you could take today to better understand
your “retirement act,” knowing the best can be yet to come. Thank you. (Applause).

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