Efficiency

Here’s something I’d never really noticed very explicitly before:  I have a lot of little tasks or to-dos that accumulate and for which I often have no energy or interest.  And then, once in a while, I have a sudden need to get started on one.  And then I’m imbued with a powerful drive to keep doing, to clear the next task, to prosecute the stack of things needing attention on my desk, to water the flowerpots, and on and on.

Something has switched on in me and it feels as though I have superpowers.  And this may go on for half a day or up to several days.  I’m incredibly efficient, plowing through an accumulation of things that have needed attention and action.  Who knows what causes this, yet when it’s present, it’s presence is obvious and undeniable.

Most days when I’m not in this “charging up the middle” mode, I do have to complete certain items, of course.  These include basics like showering and getting dressed.  And also electives, like riding my bike to shop for groceries and making dinner (instead of punting and just driving the car to a restaurant).  And also mandatories, like paying the bills on time.  But there are also myriad items that aren’t time-sensitive (or which are time-sensitive but which won’t cause too much of an issue if they’re late) that can simply be allowed to sit and wait — sometimes for a looooong time…  Numbering among these is almost always a pile of papers on my desk;  they’d be easy to stay on top of if I just did a bit every day, handling everything only once, immediately, as some efficiency experts recommend.  Somehow, though, this ain’t happening.  So the pile grows, waiting for my superpowers to appear anew.

Stopwatch

I note that during my long career, I was ridiculously efficient.  At first, when I was single, I was in the “proving competence” phase of my life, and so I drove myself hard to do a mountain of work every single day, in order to get ahead, make a buck, be able to find a wife, buy a house, get a nice car.  Then I was married and had kids, and received the greater responsibility I’d sought at work, all at the same time.  This very simply demanded the height of efficiency from early every morning to late every night — for 15+ years!  I perceived there to be no choice at work, where the amount that needed doing was prodigious.  And there was always sooooo much to do at home with kids/family that there weren’t a lot of idle moments.  Throw in what at that time was around a week/month of travel and you get a further compression of the non-travel time, with the attendant pressure on greater efficiency.  Whew.  Glad to have both navigated and enjoyed those times.

This discussion about what efficiency was like at an earlier phase of my life and what it’s like now is meant to highlight yet another way in which life after one’s long career is indeed different.  Being mindful of this change and others I’ve written about in this blog helps with the transition that ensues after one’s long career has been completed.

And being mindful is always a good reminder.  I’m sheepishly surprised that I only just became truly mindful of this quite significant change in my efficiency.  This new mindfulness will give me a better shot at being of choice in how efficiently or inefficiently I do myself at any given moment.

This is also a good example of my observation that after one’s long career, one can focus a bit more on how one is being, and not just what one is doing.  With decades of life experience and quite a bit of perspective to draw on, there are many elements available in how one chooses to be.

Select mindfully.

 

TapasLife Talk — An Invitation

My goal here on TapasLife is to get the word out about the possibility of leading a rich, full,  and meaningful life after one’s long career — especially given the longevity that is giving many 2-3 decades of life after their long career.

This blog is one vehicle for communicating my message.  Through the 54 posts on this website, I’ve shared much of what I’ve learned while assembling and living my TapasLife.  As a result, you’ve likely noticed that I’ve lately been posting infrequently.  I’m grateful to any reader who passes a link to this blog along to others in their 50s and 60s who might benefit from reading about my experiences and gleanings.

In addition to this blog, the book that I’m working on with my co-author will (hopefully) one day be published and made widely available so many can consider a new post-long-career life that has been largely unavailable until now.

A third channel I’ve worked on for exposing people to the TapasLife option is talks.  I’ve done three of these, each for a different group of people at different venues.  I got feedback at all three and incorporated that feedback into the talk.  After the first presentation, I got the feedback that I should add other people’s experiences to my own.  so I included anecdotes from the 14 interviews done to date.  I also received feedback that there should be some interactive portions to the talk, and added a couple.  After the third talk, I received feedback that sharing my “random walk” approach in a chronological fashion wasn’t so easy to absorb, and that perhaps a more prescriptive, cookbook-like approach (apropos of Tapas…) would be better.  And that I might emphasize some portions of the talk more than others.  So I changed the talk accordingly.  And I added another couple interactive sections since these have been so well received.

At this point, the talk is about an hour.  It is a set of colorful, pictorial powerpoint slides (not a bunch of bullet-points/words/texty stuff), prettified with the help of a visuals specialist;  and includes four opportunities for the audience to have exploratory conversations in pairs amongst themselves (these have proven to be very high energy — and in fact are difficult to cut off!).  It happens that in my 28 years in the tech world, mostly in marketing, I got passingly good at talking in front of groups of all sizes (including 600+ at large meetings), and am very comfortable doing so.

I’m all dressed up, so to speak, and all that’s needed is somewhere to go!  THIS IS AN INVITATION to please invite me to speak with some group you are associated with that you believe would benefit from learning about the TapasLife.  I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and am happy to drive anywhere in the extended area in order to talk with your group.  I do not charge a speaker fee at all because this is part of my Meaningful Tapa — I’m just trying to be helpful to others as they complete their long career.  I am willing to travel outside the Bay Area if modest travel expenses are reimbursed.

Groups might include service organizations, church/temple/mosque-related groups, work groups, companies who offer services to their employees who are “retiring,” community organizations, groups of friends, businesses that serve people in their 50s and 60s (as a service to their clientele), and no doubt many others.

When you bring me in to talk with your group, you are helping people avoid the difficult wall that many run into when they complete their long career one Friday afternoon and have very little idea about the complex transition on which they’ve embarked.  And likely even less of a notion about how to live a rich, full, meaningful life for the ensuing 20-30 years.

Your assistance in putting me in front of groups who can benefit is greatly appreciated.  I can be emailed at Andy@TapasLife.com.  Thanks!

Planning for Future Decades

Of course, I could be dead tomorrow.  Hopefully this won’t happen.  I’m so hopeful, in fact, that I think about the future as though I’ll be around for 2-3 decades.  Imagine being around for another 20-30 years.  Wow.  What on earth will I do with that time, if I’m lucky enough that it materializes?  What would you do with that time if it were there for you?

Well, I currently have my Tapas Life, which you’ve read about in this blog.  It’s quite full with Family, Start-up, Exercise/Sports, Friends, Board, Piano, LifeCoaching, Volunteering, Home, Cooking, Finances, Wine, Travel, Learning, writing about the Tapas Life, and more.  And I periodically wonder whether it will be up to the challenge of keeping myself vital until near the end.  This is a combination of wishing to not be a burden to kids and of wishing to live an engaging life.

I find it fathomable that some of these Tapas will run out of gas over time, gradually diminishing.  I don’t imagine that my work at a start-up will continue more than another few years:  either it’ll be a success or it won’t, and that’ll be that.  I imagine that the amount of far-flung travel my wife and I have been enjoying will be more difficult to carry off over time:  will we still want to take 17-hour flights with 12-hour time changes, and then walk 10-12 miles/day at our destination — even when we’re in our 80s?  Probably not.  I’d like to think we’ll still be going to Paris for a few weeks or months now and then, but we might not find ourselves walking from the Luxembourg Gardens to the Bois de Boulogne and back like we do today.  Likewise, Board work and Volunteering (unless it takes some new form) are likely to decrease for me over the coming decade, as my interest in same is waning.

The rest of my Tapas Life, I hope will remain intact, especially the “anchor tenants” of Family, Friends, Exercise, and Learning.  And, for better of for worse, I’ll still be working on Finances every month, willy nilly.  Lest I starve or die of thirst, best to hang on to Cooking and Wine, as well!

I’ve been pondering what main activities might have the “legs” to last decades, along with the anchors.  In a sense, this is trying to foresee what my life might look like, or more to the point, what I want my life to look like over the next 2-3 decades.  Three main activities resonate for me.

First, piano.  I’ve gotten to the point where I can play the piano well enough that it is really a rewarding activity.  This is especially the case because I’m now able to play pretty difficult stuff — and this is music I love.  OK, I’m certainly not professional nor within a country mile.  But I’m good enough that now my drive to learn more is accelerating.  I’ve lately started to entertain the idea that I will seek out a way to earn a music/piano degree over the coming decade, maybe getting started in a couple years as some other Tapas dwindle.  I sure as hell don’t want to go back into Psych101 or Freshman English, so I’m hoping I can work something out (Stanford would be ideal, or perhaps the Conservatory in San Francisco) where I can just take all the music and piano courses:  Theory, Composition, Appreciation and the like.  Truthfully, I haven’t yet investigated what such a path would entail, but I know I want to get in deeper. I want to better understand what my favorite composers were doing within a given piece, so I can find the hidden fullness of the music and bring that out at the keyboard.

Second, LifeCoaching.  This meaningful Tapa of mine is one which benefits from experience.  It seems very likely that I can be doing this for at least another couple decades, assuming the universe continues to bring me clients as it so helpfully has.  Moreover, it is an activity that can be titrated in line with need:  one can have more or less clients as suits the circumstances of the moment.

Third, maybe French.  This is really Learning and Travel wrapped together.  My wife and I love Paris and hope to enjoy chunks of time there for many years.  So I’m contemplating getting serious about becoming reasonably fluent in French.  I can read it decently now, and speak enough to handle the quotidian basics, but can’t understand the spoken language much at all, and am a long way from speaking it well.  This, too, is an activity that can continue to be engaging and can continue yielding pleasure for decades.  My wife studied French for many years, and is surreptitiously fluent;  so my pursuing French fluency is something that we can work on together, which is fun.

Don’t know if these things will come to pass, but they inhabit my musings these days.

What’s your thinking about the decades that you’re rolling into???  If you lay it out, you can live it.  If you don’t, you can just experience life as it comes at you.

 

Courage

You’ve announced that you’re ending your long career.  Coworkers deluge you with “What are you going to be doing?”  When you see friends, they’ll all want to know “What are you going to be doing?”  When you go to gatherings, cocktail parties, reunions, just about anyplace — people want to know your plans.  And before you answer, they’ll have it in their head that you’re going to travel, play golf/tennis, and do some volunteerism.

It’s the model that people are familiar with and expect you to fit nicely into it.  Well, if you’re a really, really driven type, they’ll want to know if you’re going to start another career, if you’re going to do some consulting, if you’re going to join some Boards.

If you choose to relax and decompress (and, yes, travel some) for a while, that won’t surprise anyone and will totally meet their expectations of life after a long career.

If by and by you decide to ease gradually into a Tapas Life, that will break the mold that’s in most people’s head.  Huh?  You’re not just traveling and playing golf?  You haven’t started a new job?  This can be an uncomfortable time, in that you are stepping away from the age-old model of how life is expected to be lived.  Everywhere you go, whoever you see will want to know what’s new, what you’re up to now.  If after 3-6 months you don’t have much of an answer, people will either say “Oh” (as in, gee, he’s lost) or will prod you for some sort of plan.

Moreover, you yourself may find you are itching to get started on something.  After all, you’ve spent 17+ years of your life being educated and then 30-40+ years in your long career(s).  After all this doing, it’s really alien to not be doing.  It’s awkward.  It’s not what your or others are looking for in the you they know.  It’s quite challenging to simply stay with regrouping, introspecting, considering what you actually want from the coming decades.

The most vibrant you may be submerged under the work persona you’ve inhabited for decades, and it is likely to take time and intent to find that truest you.  To be sure, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones whose work was their heart’s desire, what used their fullest capabilities to meaningful effect.  In which case, you may not have ended your long career at all (since that sort of idyllic life can be hard to replace)!  Sad to say, though, most of us weren’t living ourselves all that fully during our long career — or not during the work portion, or at least not during the last 10+ years of the work portion.  I know I personally was bored during the last 7+ years of my long career — and mine was only 28 years, less than most.

Yes, it takes time and intent to rediscover ourselves, while everyone incessantly pokes at us “What are you up to?”  And after rediscovering ourselves, it’s a gradual process to assemble a Tapas Life, starting in on something we love, and then adding Tapas over a period of months and years (mine took about 4.5 years to assemble), keeping some Tapas, discarding some, failing miserably at some.

It takes courage and perseverance to head down the new path of a Tapas Life, enduring other’s expectations that will remain unmet.  The closer the relationship, the harder it is to, in essence, make your friends and family feel that something’s wrong — simply because you’re not fitting into the model that’s in their head.  At the same time, look for those who believe in you and are willing to support you in a flexible way, willing to understand that it’s OK to walk a less common path.  They will be an excellent energy source and sounding boards and perhaps partners on your journey to the Tapas Life.

If you like to buck trends, are an iconoclast, stand up to the powers that be, or are otherwise a nonconformist, you’ll have an easier time of it, for sure.  If all that sort of behavior is foreign to you, and the Tapas Life appeals to you greatly, you’ll need some courage.

It’s worth swimming against the tide to enjoy a rich, fulfilling, meaningful Tapas Life during your second adult life!

 

Please introduce this blog to others you know a who are late in their long career or who have left their long career in the last few years.  You’re likely to be helping them greatly.  Thanks!

Welcome to Tapas Life!

Featured

If you’re 55 and healthy in the U.S., it’s likely that you’ll live into your late 80s or longer.  If your adult life started at 25, then you’re now only at the halfway point!  And you also might be nearing the end of a long career.  What will you do next?

Time was that folks retired, had a few golden years, and died.  Now you’ve got another 30 years ahead of you (25 if you’re 60 or 20 if you’re 65).  You’re in good health, you’re energetic, you’ve got a mountain of knowledge and wisdom, and you’ve got your investments.  If you’ve been thinking that you’d travel, play golf, putter around in the garden and such — that’s good.  By all means decompress, rediscover life and yourself, let the stress melt away.  That will feel terrific for perhaps a year or two.  And then you’ll go stir crazy.  You’ll want to do something productive.  And you’ll realize you need to be doing something meaningful with the decades ahead.

I’m 60 and have reinvented my life over the past few years.  I’ve assembled what I call my Tapas Life — a bit of this and a bit of that, like the small plates of tasty food served all over Spain (and also pictured at the top of the page).  It took a lot of exploring, and was well worth the effort, as my Tapas Life is quite full, pleasurable, and meaningful.

This blog is me being of service (a meaningful activity) to the millions of people who are (primarily) in their 50s or 60s and who haven’t thought about their future much, or are just starting to, or have been puzzling and might benefit from a new perspective.  I’m sharing my journey to the Tapas Life in the hope that my experience will be useful to you, and that you, too, will find a second adult life you love.  After all, you’re part of the first generation to have the longevity to enjoy this opportunity — pursue it with gusto!

If you wish to read more, I suggest you click on this link Why the “Tapas Life” After Retirement? to start at the beginning, and when you’re done reading click on “Next” at the top of the page to progress from there.  Enjoy.

Cheers,

Andy