Most people are looking forward to retirement. This is an opportunity to spend a lot of time with “fun” that you can never get in a busy executive level job. For others, it’s scary. What do you do with all your free time?
If you get it within 10 or 15 years of retirement, you will see these questions more often. What will my post-marketing carrier look like?
I recently spoke with Bill Lynton, a former Global Export Manager at Bush Brothers and Company. He retired in 2018 at the age of 57 and said he would have retired sooner if he knew how great the retirement was. I was fascinated when he talked about his approach to retirement. He planned it. He thought about it. And he attacked retirement as well as an important project. Below, we share his insights on how to increase retirement fulfillment.
Kimberly Whitler: You suggest that you need to have a retirement plan. why is that?
Bill Lynton: If you don’t plan to retire, you’ll go crazy. If you are a wise and ambitious individual, you must know what you want to do. After retirement, you need to renegotiate what worked before you retire, so your plan should include what your post-retirement relationship will look like with your loved ones. I have a friend who said his partner said, “Good or bad, not lunch.” After retirement, you’re together much more than before. Behavior that is rewarded at work is not rewarded at home. You have to change your way of thinking about what your relationship will be. what are you going to do?
Whitler: Please tell us in detail how you made the plan.
Lynton: There are many ways to retire. My dad makes you happy because you live for yourself for the first 25 years, for your family for the next 25-30 years, and less pressure in the rest of your life I told me that I could pursue. But the question is, how do you want to live your life when your time is your choice? What does it look like?
Without a plan, you can get into trouble. I’ve seen people fill the void by doing self-destructive things. When I talk to people and ask why they are pursuing a particular activity after retirement, they will say, “I just want to do something.” You may be desperate, so planning at work is more likely to make you happy than after retirement. You take the one that comes first.
For the first time in your life, you can pursue your passion, but you need to have goals. And you need to make a plan to reach that goal.
Whitler: So what does your plan look like?
Lynton: I had a blueprint before I retired. 33% value fun activities, 33% value by giving back, 33% continue to grow and learn, ideally through consulting and other projects. The fun is … well … it’s fun, but I don’t think it’s always fulfilling. And I knew that in order for me to continue to grow and create value, I needed to set aside time for those activities. It was important for me to continue to feel that I was making a difference because I couldn’t stop even if I quit my job.
How do I implement the plan? The fun part is easy. My wife and I are blocking the time to travel all year round. This is a big part of our “fun” goal, but it also helps us reach our “growth” goal when trying to go to new places. Finding a way to give back is really rewarding. During Covid’s period, there was a shortage of substitute teachers in our community, so I started substitute teachers. I also found that if you have marketing skills, you have many opportunities to volunteer. I was asked to join the board of directors of the Clemson Alumni Association. And I’m giving a guest lecture in Clemson’s marketing class. You may learn as a marketing expert. Sharing real-life examples with students can help you realize your theory. For me, there is something that resonates with teaching young people how to do this. Everyone wants to feel that they are worth it. When you read what happens as you get older, some people find that they are not contributing. I wanted to deliberately work on the activity I wanted to do. And in the growth part, I aim to read books a week and continue to learn new things through explorations (such as traveling to new places) and rewarding projects (such as consulting).
Whitler: You said something about fun that isn’t enough to create a fulfilling retirement plan. why is that?
Lynton: Many people think it’s 100% fun, but I think it’s great … but it’s actually relatively empty, and frankly, selfish. I have also seen people who do not have plans, and they make bad choices to fill the time. It may be fun at this point, but I don’t think it provides the essential sensation that comes from creating value. That feeling that you are important to someone and to something. When you are pursuing “fun”, it is difficult to “make a difference” unless your enjoyment is probably related to making a difference. And when we believe it’s important, I believe we tend to feel better about ourselves.
100% fun quickly becomes boring. This is what it looked like to my dad. He was let go three times. In 2007, my dad put together a program to help people put together their resumes and teach them how to network. He taught them how to fish — he didn’t write a resume for them. The program was so successful that other cities called him for help. He went to Buffalo and Seattle somewhere in the Midwest. He didn’t get anything financially from it, but I can’t remember how happy my father was.
This gratitude composition — this is, I believe, the happiest place for retired people. They do it because they don’t want it because they have to.
Whitler: Was it easy to give back? How did you do it?
Lynton: You may need to look for an opportunity to give back. If you knock on the door, they may say no. However, make a backup plan. For example, I wanted to give a guest lecture. I contacted the professor who invited me to the guest lecture. It became a guest lecture for another class and a third class. Now some students are calling for networking help to start writing.
The course I visited in the spring was an international marketing course. I was able to talk about a real example. When you hit an important topic and the light hits the student’s eyes, it’s satisfying. Watch the idea change from concept to construct. It feels great. I drove home from Clemson, a short drive. The feeling of helping the students reinforces the ongoing needs that I need to make a difference.
Whitler: I’ve seen my parents go through different stages of retirement. Finding the right opportunity to contribute seems to be a barrier. How did you find an opportunity for alternative education?
Lynton: I saw an opportunity to read the newspaper. I wanted to work with young people. And during Covid, I saw my local school struggling to find a substitute teacher. It wasn’t easy. I had to find a social security card that I didn’t have, so I had to go through government procedures to get one. I had to undergo a drug test that I hadn’t had for decades. You have to look around. There are more opportunities for volunteering than volunteering. You have to be aggressive. No one knocks on your door.
You also need to be able to answer three questions:
1) Who am I?
2) What works for me?
3) What do i want to do?
Whitler: What would you do if you had a plan?
Lynton: Requires flexibility and adaptability. Things never work as we think, so you’ll want to wipe out your plan and update it. Also I found from …