Reactions To Words I’ve Read

As a lover of words, I thought I’d share instances in this past week where I reacted to words being used in blog posts.

Words as Labels

A blog post on Booming Encore about different Type of Retirees (link here) had me really thinking!  According to the author, there are 3 types of retirees, labeled in his terms: Survival-Mode, Comfort-Oriented, and Growth-Oriented.  I found it upsetting – the author’s obvious preference for the third type of retiree came through, with him even giving it the most positive of labels!  

Type 1 (Survival-Mode) description has words like “a big mistake”, “stress levels going up”, “retirement hell”, and “it won’t be easy”. I would have loved to see more positive language like how many activities you can engage in that don’t cost much or how you can continue to grow as an individual even on limited income. I’m not saying that retirement on limited income is easy, but I hope the 45% of American Boomers the author thinks are in this category are not living in hell.

Type 2 (Comfort-Oriented) description has words like “ordinary”, “unwilling to take risks”, “comfortable”, and “content”. While that doesn’t sound bad, he continues with “happiness levels have plateaued”, “uninterested in trying new things”, and related the state to his mother, who is probably in her late 70’s or 80’s. Obviously in the author’s mind this type is not what a new retiree should aspire to and certainly does not have any personal growth, as that is apparently only Type 3.

Type 3 (Growth-Oriented) individuals are the only ones “not complacent”, “setting goals“, and “realizing their potential”.   Type 3s, however, will “never be satisfied” and achieving their goals are “happiness hits”.   I found that curious as it’s against most of the Science of Happiness learning, and in fact the author acknowledges that “this feeling (i.e. happiness) will be short-lived … continually need to establish new goals” to find happiness again. Perhaps the better label here would be Still-Trying-to-Achieve.

Personally, I think within Type 2 (which is where I am closer to being), being content does not mean not interested in learning new things.  I have goals – they just are not necessarily major goals like running marathons or traveling the world. My happiness might be “plateaued”, but it’s plateaued at a high level. It is definitely not the roller coaster of Type 3 happiness where you’re in constant need of the next “fix”!

The article also made me wonder how much bias I write into my own model-framework creations.  [The author obviously believes Type 3 is the “right” one.] Do I need to re-think all the frameworks I created in my book?

Do you relate to any of these three types of retiree profiles as they are written?

 

Playing with Words

Another reaction to words I read was in a comment someone made to a blog post about “being enough”.   The commenter talked about how she was just “pretty good” at things. It struck me that we have such a hard time owning and celebrating our own uniqueness. I immediately went to see if my own Authentic Me Affirmation Statement had instances of just “pretty good” language.  And then, what other descriptive words would articulate the uniqueness I bring to my I AM roles or skills.

Instead of being a “pretty good” friend, cook, crafter, blogger, coach, or foodie, what added descriptions could make it more positive and authentic? A joyful crafter? A fearless foodie? An inspiring blogger?

I found all kinds of fun and unique potential descriptors (using a thesaurus looking at both synonyms and antonyms): intrepid, decisive, eager, gutsy, spirited, audacious, supportive, inspiring, eclectic, skillful, avid, engaging.  

It’s hard to lean into positive descriptors in I Am affirmations. At times I think I’m lying, but affirmations are about “This is how I want to be” in the here and now.   To me it’s a “fake it till you make it” tool!  I have used them to shift my thinking on elements in my life.  For example, I no longer say “I’m just not athletic”; now say “I am active”. 

Are there areas (roles/skills) you need to make more authentically you with descriptors?

 

My Own Words – An Interview

It was a delight to see my own words in print from an interview with Mike Lieberman on Retirement Redefinition. Mike is starting a new on-line business (with a blog attached) to help retirees who are interested in starting their own on-line business in retirement – a unique niche. It always makes me feel good when someone thinks I have wisdom to share. Check it out here – link.

 

37 thoughts on “Reactions To Words I’ve Read

  1. This post really got me thinking about the words I use to describe myself and my lifestyle. As you pointed out, words do matter. I used to say I wasn’t athletic and I was timid. That’s not really true. At the time, I was running several times a week. I like to hike. I take fitness classes and do yoga. I just don’t enjoy competitive team sports. As far as being timid. Just because I don’t enjoy physical peril, doesn’t make me timid. I try new things. I’ve taught public classes. I applied for a CEO position. Maybe bravest of all, with my husband, we blended a family of four teenagers! And at times I have even pushed myself to do adventurous things like ziplining and rappelling. I hope that my retirement will be comfortable. I love that you said your happiness has plateaued at a high level. That’s what I want for myself. I want to have new experiences and set some goals–but goals of my choosing and hopefully at a more gentle pace. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Pat.

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    1. Christie, I used to claim I was not athletic, but then had to realize I was doing yoga, loved to hike, and didn’t think anything of doing a 3-4 mile walk. Same as your “timid”. Just not true. I also don’t like peril but have zip-lined and rappelled – not sure I would do again, but did them once. (I say I’m not adventurous… hmm, same as your timid!) This is definitely a case of reality not meeting the self-limiting terms we use! Neither of us can say we are not athletic, and neither of us can say we are timid/not adventurous.

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  2. Since the pandemic in mid march took away the part-time job that I loved (massage therapist), a knee injury forced me to quit running (which I love) for 4 months, and then our moving to Chicago earlier this month took away my home and friends, I have gone from a Type 3 to a Type 1. And it’s not a monetary issue. We moved here to be closer to our grands, but it turns out it’s REALLY HARD to start up a new life during a pandemic. Really hard…

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    1. AGMA – welcome back! Oh yeah, I am absolutely sure the start-up will be hard, especially with few people wanting any new person in their “bubble”. But I also believe it’s short-term. I need to believe it’s short term. We’re moving the other way (south – Florida…. the insane 10,000 cases a day hotspot that it is), but now thinking more like spring 2021… for many of the same reasons -start-up of new activities and finding new connections when you’re mostly self-isolating is practically impossible. But you did mention a bakery and wine… I hope you find others finding their muse there as well!

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      1. I already have 1 young man I say “hello” to there!! And my DIL & I are getting pretty tight (which is somewhat miraculous!) Where do you think you’ll go in FL? We’d like to do the snowbird thing back to Atlanta in the winter if we can swing it financially.

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      2. AGMA – we bought the house and “moved in” in January. The plan was to move “out” of Ohio this summer/fall, but the pandemic stopped a few things from happening. [Yes, we own two houses at the moment.] The house in Florida is near St Petersburg, which is a wonderful artsy city… the house is on a barrier island, on the inter-coastal side, on the water. Yes, a huge splurge for us and one I still have quivers over (financially). But I love our new back yard. We’ve met quite a few (very friendly) neighbors, even only being there 3 months of the year so far. And I’m really looking forward to embracing a Florida lifestyle – heat and all.

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  3. Words matter. I didn’t read the original post (nor do I want to based on what you’ve shared) but I think trying to stuff anything neatly into a box (or, one of three boxes) is silly. Maybe it’s the narcissism and arrogance of youth (how would he like those stereotypes?) to think that not only are we one of those three, but which one he’ll fall into when he retires.

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    1. A previous colleague of mine asked me what would be a better segmentation model for retirees. Because that’s what this was…. just not a very good one. I spent years creating these kinds of models… they are actually extremely helpful for design. So I’ve been working on one for retirees…. it starts with good observation and synthesis. (yeah – my skill set).

      [And, yes, for every segmentation model I’ve ever created, I’ve had someone say…. but I fit in multiple boxes. And yes, sometimes one person is on the edge between segments. But they are still helpful for design…. and the reason why there are different versions of anything.]

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  4. I appreciate your thoughts on the original retiree descriptions Pat and can see your point. I also like the idea of light and shade as mentioned in the comments. I think many of us a mix of some of these labels at any one time. It’s not required that we stay in the one category forever is it? Thanks for your insightful and interesting post. #mlstl

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    1. I’ve been involved in using segmentation models (which is what this is… even if not that good of one) for years. Yes, you can move from one category to another. And yes, some people will fit across categories – a bit in one and a bit in another. But good segmentation models should account for most people in broad terms, and you should always feel that your segment was stated in a positive way!

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    1. Words do have power. I never understood the “sticks & stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” as a kid. Even today, words can be so hurtful and divisive. Maybe that’s what bothered me, the feeling of divisiveness and superiority.

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  5. My immediate sense is that person is trying to make an impact, and this kind of reductive thinking is all too prevalent online. You know, bumper sticker wisdom and easy listening inspiration. Comfort sounds good to me, enjoying your retirement, and doing what works best for you! #MLSTL

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    1. It was pointed out (I totally missed it) that the author is no-where near retirement age! I think for many of us, comfort and contentment and doing what’s right for us is our goal. And that can mean having goals and accomplishing things… just not the go-go-go need of previous climb-the-ladder time of life. Thanks for joining in the conversation!

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  6. Hi Pat – I see the bias of people (and bloggers too) when they write about retirement. The really busy ones seem to have a “cool kid” feel to them where they’re constantly on the go and doing new stuff and stretching their boundaries. I feel exhausted just listening to them – as for my husband and me – we’re not wealthy, we’re not big travellers, we’re not even foodies….we’re just happy and content with our way of life. I gave up apologizing for that ages ago, now I just own it (and I’m very grateful for the Slow movement that made it more acceptable to not be an over achiever!)
    As far as being “enough” goes – I’m really not great at anything – and I’m okay with that too, I’m happy to do things well and to do what I enjoy – the need to compete or to be perfect or to be the best has fallen by the wayside somewhere. That being said, I think we definitely have to own our positive traits and be comfortable stating them (I have a blog post coming up about that in a few weeks – we’re on a similar wavelength again). Great post as always. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Pat, I am going to ‘ditto’ what Leanne said in terms of being unapologetically happy and content with a slower-paced lifestyle. I am not a superstar at anything and am fine with not having lofty goals at this stage of life. I embrace the concept of ‘good enough’, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have balance and structure within my daily routine. It just means I like who I am and I own all parts of myself as good.

      I think we all write from a place of bias to some degree. I believe I come across as casual, thoughtful, and content with simple things; sprinkled with a bit of whimsy. I guess a part of me wants others to see my joy and incorporate a bit of that philosophy into their own lives.

      I agree with you that when we present ‘options’ or choices, we should refrain from guiding readers to the ‘right’ choice, or our choice. I definitely prefer facts to opinion when I am being asked to identify with a particular philosophy or doctrine. I want people who read my blog to feel validated and uplifted, not intimidated to do things my way.

      Great post, Pat. Lots to think about.

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      1. Suzanne, How did I miss that he’s that young? (I feel kinda stupid for not looking) I assumed he was a retiree… since he talked he’s Type 3 (which is obviously in his mind the right type). And you’re right. I think many of us have a shift away from the go-go-go in our 40s and 50’s when we retire or are in our 60’s. We learn to appreciate the simpler things, time to just be, and a bit slower paced lifestyle (which allows you to savor and appreciate things). Doesn’t mean we don’t have things to do and goals to accomplish. I’m not sure I would have believed it years ago – being a Type A workaholic… but even I have come to appreciate the slower pace of life and enjoy the journey.

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    2. Oh Leanne, I love the “cook kid” comment! That feels so true here.

      I’m looking forward to your thoughts on owning our positive traits. That’s been a challenge for me. I am a perfectionist so dealing with good enough in anything is hard; even stating my positive traits feels like I need to be perfect in them. Adding an adjective for me helped … I don’t need to be a perfect friend – I’m the planning friend (the one who plans things).

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  7. Well, those three retirement types have me thinking. I am probably with the growth people, and I realize that when I achieve a goal I seem to always find another one. I would like to be more satisfied with the way things are, but that doesn’t seem to be how I am wired. I am happy with pretty good enough at some things ( like cooking, or exercise) but not so with other things (my writing or teaching or even my obsession with homes). If wherever you are is making you happy enough, then I think you are in a good place.

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    1. Michele, It is all about knowing yourself, isn’t it? And accepting that others might be different, and that is OK. I was aware of your perfectionism in writing (you’ve mentioned that before)… but wasn’t aware of the obsession with homes. Obsession with what aspect? I don’t think I have an obsession with anything.

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      1. I am always decorating. I try to do it without spending a lot, so that takes time. I read decorating books and magazines and follow designers on Instagram. I never leave home without a tape measure and my Sherwin Williams paint deck! I have also decorated the homes of many friends and family members. Here are a couple of posts about it:

        How designing your life is like designing your home
        https://wp.me/p5fFCF-s6

        What makes a house a home?
        https://wp.me/p5fFCF-gX

        Refining Your Personal Style
        https://wp.me/p5fFCF-Jg

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  8. I’m very much a shades of grey girl – not in the (ahem) fifty shades of grey meaning, but rather in blurred lines. I think I drift between categories constantly so am not at all keen on them. Having said that, there is light and shade in most & this author seems to dwell on the shade in those he doesn’t identify with as much and the light in the one he does. #MLSTL

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  9. The problem with creating categories like this is that it attempts to make it black and white. I think there is a lot of truth hidden in the blurring between the categories. At any given time we could be sliding between categories, and certainly this weird time in history we’re living right now would amplify that.

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  10. I’m not sure how I would describe the type of retiree I am. Definitely not in survival mode. I do have goals and pretty specific ones. Lately, I’ve found myself to be more frustrated than usual with my level of accomplishment. I have to remind myself that no one cares but me and what’s wrong if the only things I do in a day are the chores that don’t even make my todo list? I am retired after all and not tied to a schedule. I need to enjoy that more and stop lamenting the fact I didn’t get certain things done. Especially in front of my husband who then feels he can’t ask for anything. I love just being so I need to make my doing more realistic. I don’t want my hobbies to feel like chores too.

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    1. I’ve found that putting my chores on my to-do list allows me to check them off and have that feeling of accomplishment! Yup, even clean the bathroom. I understand about making hobbies feel like chores … sometimes I feel like putting the hobby on the to-do list makes it feel more like a must-do versus a nice-to-do… but if it’s not on there, I tend to forget I planned to do it that day. Such a catch-22!

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  11. This is a good read. I am sure we all have bias in our writings. We’re human, after all. Most of the time, when there are labels or so many “types” of …, we are a mix of those labels with different ones being dominant at different times. I like your positive spin on the “survival” mode label. Thank you for your post.

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    1. Betty, thanks for joining in the conversation. For years (in my career) I used similar frameworks to help us do consumer product design, and I often heard the same thing – I am a mix of the types, no one defines me. But usually one dominates, even if it’s not perfect fit. I’ve always tried (I hope) to write all types as positive descriptions. Survival-mode definitely needed some positivity in it.

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