Creative Retirement is a Better Retirement

by | Jul 18, 2013 | Archives, nspez

A growing creative trend can help us live a better retirement with a purpose that sees the big picture.

One great challenge in retirement is keeping pace with change.    Retirement today is based around social economic promises that may not make sense.   Retirement establishments ranging from Social Security to pension to medical care are overburdened and not likely to provide what many retirees expect.  Fortunately a growing creative trend that views a balancing lifestyle is more important than increasing income which can help each of us reveal an enjoyable purpose that brings joy beyond material success.  Yesterday’s message about how families can create a better retirement  featured a New York Times series on how working mothers balance careers with family responsibilities.


This yatchak who lived and worked with Merri and me for years in Ecuador and the US always stressed to have a purpose… beyond our goals.

Part of the article “Coveting Not a Corner Office, but Time at Home” by Catherine Rampell looks at two different schools of thought about purpose which reveals this growing creative trend.

The article tells about the book  “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg.  Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and listed in Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.  This book shows ways for women to climb the corporate ladder and succeed in achieving leadership roles and be empowered to achieve their full potential in business.

The second school of thought is one of greater balance desired by women and also by men (bolds are mine).  An excerpt from the New York Times article says:  Not everyone aspires to be an executive at Facebook, like Ms. Sandberg, or to set foreign policy, like Anne-Marie Slaughter (a former State Department official and another prominent commentator on what’s holding women back in the workplace), especially when the children are young.

Unaccounted for in the latest books offering leadership strategies by and for elite women is the fact that only 37 percent of working women (and 44 percent of working men) say they actually want a job with more responsibilities, according to a survey from the Families and Work Institute. And among all mothers with children under 18, just a quarter say they would choose full-time work if money were no object and they were free to do whatever they wanted, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll.

This polarity exemplifies the growing creative trend looked at in this site before.  This trend was outlined over a decade ago in the book “Cultural Creatives” by Paul H. Ray PH.D.and Sherry Ruth Anderson PH.D.

Dr. Ray ran a company called American LIVES Inc. for 13 years. During that time he accumulated over 100,000 responses to questionnaires and hundreds of focus groups. (I am impressed.) The demographic information from those responses suggests that a new subculture has been emerging in America since the 60s. This group now represents 26% of the adult population (50 million people) and divides the nation into three demographic subgroups, the Moderns (49.8% of the population), the Traditionals (23.2%) and the Cultural Creatives (CC), 26%).

Some interesting points made in the book are:

The Moderns rule. They are the establishment.

The Traditionals are dying off.

The Cultural Creatives are creating a new culture in America.  This is a growing group.  When the book Cultural Creatives was published in 2001 the cultural creatives represented 26% of the population.   The survey by Families and Work Institute suggest that this figure is now nearer 40%  (37 percent of working women and 44 percent of working men say they actually want a job with more responsibilities).

Each of the three subcultures has a pretty fair disdain for the thinking of the others and moderns still represent the largest group.  Ms. Sandberg’s “Lean In” book represents a Modern’s view.  Moderns find the following things important:

  • Making or having a lot of money.
  • Climbing the ladder of success with measurable goals.
  • Looking good or being stylish.
  • When the going gets tough the tough go shopping.
  • Having lots of choices.
  • Being on top of the latest innovations, trends and styles.
  • Supporting economic and technological progress at a national level.

Moderns also have the following assumptions:

  • It is flaky to be concerned about your inner or spiritual life.
  • You have the right to be entertained by the media.
  • Your body is pretty much like a machine.
  • Most organizations lend themselves to machine analogies.
  • Either big business or big government knows best.
  • Bigger is better.
  • Time is money.
  • What gets measured gets done.
  • Setting goals is very important.
  • Analyzing things into their parts is the best way to solve problems.
  • Science and engineering are the models for truth.
  • Efficiency and speed are top priorities.
  • The mainstream media’s awe for the rich is correct.
  • It makes sense to compartmentalize your life into separate spheres, work, family, making love, education, politics, religion.

CCs on the other hand are the fast growing group, who see a different bigger picture, find the following important:

  • Nature and its destruction.
  • Problems with the whole planet such as global warming, destruction of the rain forests, overpopulation, lack of ecological sustainability and exploitation of the poor.
  • They would pay more taxes if the money would be used to clean the environment.
  • Developing and maintaining relationships.
  • Helping others and bringing out other’s unique gifts.
  • Volunteering for good causes.
  • Psychological and spiritual development.
  • See spirituality or religion as important but concerned about Religious right.
  • Equality of women.
  • Violence and abuse of women and children.
  • Politics should spend more on education, neighborhoods and sustainable future.
  • Concerns about the left and right of politics as well as the mushy middle.
  • Optimism for the future and distrust media’s negativity.
  • Creating new and better ways of life.
  • Concerned about big business’s focus on profit over environment, downsizing and human exploitation.
  • Having finances under control.
  • Dislikes overspending, conspicuous consumption and “making it”.
  • Likes exotic and foreign people, places and other ways of life.

The growth of moms and dads seeking a more balanced lifestyle shows the importance of retiring with a purpose.

Sandberg’s book has a very Modern twist… which I believe is out of step with this growing trend and narrows the broader view.

This is why Merri and I try to always invest and do business with a purpose.   I have a quote framed on my desk… “Action is Thy Duty… Reward Not Thy Concern”.   We keep moving forward with our purpose without great concern about where the currents carry our correct actions.

How can we define our purpose?

Look for what brings meaning to life.  A better retirement is a journey of meaningfulness, not a destination and the essence of humanity is meaning.   With meaning we are motivated.  We enjoy what we do rather than what we have.

Our purpose simplifies retirement.  Purpose defines what we do and cuts out the nonsense suggestions on how we should live that we are bombarded with by commerce and the establishment.

Purpose solidifies our core values and allows us to be decisive regardless of what is happening around us.

Having and fulfilling a purpose reduces stress and inner conflict.

It is possible to do everything we want when what we want is what we are meant to do.  It is never possible to do all of what others want us to do.  Our purpose brings our action into perspective.  Without purpose are subject to the whims of the marketplace.

Purpose focuses action.  This focus places attention on fulfilling a destiny that is important to you.

We could call a better retirement with a pinnacle career a soul journey.  The great mystic Sufi poet Rumi is quoted “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

Gaining joy from service is the best way to have a better retirement because joy is nature’s way of leading us in the right direction.   As the world changes at an increasingly faster pace, this joy is the energy that allows one to keep a steady course.

A more modern sage, Dr. Seuss, said: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Seek your purpose as part of the growing creative trend that balances lifestyle for a better retirement.


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