Energizing the best part of your life
Presented by the Lawyers Assistance
Facilitated by Robert Bircher
Past Models of Retirement
no Longer Applicable
• Previous role models i.e. what our
parents did are unlikely to be
followed by this generation
• Boomers will pave the way for a
new style of retirement
• Preparation for a happy retirement
involves more than simply making
sure you have enough money
• There are also the dimensions of
physical and mental health as well
as social and psychological
Increased Longevity
• Average life expectancy was 22
years in Roman times,47 at the
turn of the 19th century, during
most of human history only I in
10 people survived to 65-old age
is a fairly recent phenomenon
• If you make it to 65 you have an
average of 17 years for men and
21 years for women (Statistics
• Not only are we living longer, we
are healthier longer than ever
Extended good health
• We are entering or experiencing
physiological old age later in life
• The extra 20 or 30 years we have
gained have been added to the
middle of life not to the end
• The period between what was
formerly the end of middle age
(roughly 50) and what is the
beginning of real physical old age
(after 75) is a new stage in adult lifeone that has never existed before as
a generalized experience for large
numbers of people
• The average 65 year old today is
functioning mentally and physically
at the level that our parents
generation did at 50
Aging Well and the
Psychology of Transition
• If you thought getting into law was hard
wait till you try getting out! This module
is about Aging well, the psychology of
transition and letting go of “I am a
• “Old age is a privilege denied to many”
• You are not a lawyer-you never were-that
is a role you took on in your twenties and
most of you will exit that role in the next
• “Removing your robes” is your next
major metaphorical task
Retirement-Not as easy as
it looks!
• 5 myths of retirement
1. If retirement isn’t here yet, you
don’t need to think about it
2. Retirement is easy; you just stop
3. Retirement will be a permanent
4. If you have enough money to
retire, that’s all you need to worry
5. You are going to love spending all
that extra time with your spouse
Not your Daddy’s
• Retirement has changed since our fathers
retired-an abrupt stop at 65 is no longer the
• Many lawyers move on to different careers,
or gradually slow down
• Lawyers in particular do not turn their back
on work for a life of leisure
• The Oregon retirement survey shows that
many lawyers will practice well beyond 65
with 40% planning to practice after age 70
and 11% planning never to retire at all!
• For some that is because of economic
necessity, for others it is for the
stimulation, sense of purpose and
satisfaction it provides
• 71% see retirement as time to begin a new
chapter in life
Transition to Retirement
• Transition is a normal part of life,
but major transitions set in motion a
period of psychological and
emotional adjustment
• In addition to the expected health
and financial issues we can expect
change, losses discomfort and
disorientation-11 out of 43 in terms
of being one of life's most stressful
• See transition curve chart
• Whether you retire by choice or are
forced out makes a big difference –
voluntary retirees report much
higher satisfaction
Losses in Retirement
• Earned Income-the end of a regular
paycheque comes with some anxiety-can
we make it on our savings? Few lawyers in
private practice can count on a defined
benefit pension-most small firms have none
• Loss of structure-in law you don’t have to
worry about how to spend your day-without
this some retired lawyers experience an
uncomfortable loss of focus and direction
• Those who have not developed regularly
scheduled activities-contract work,
volunteering, hobbies, educational outlets
can experience great stress
• Some lawyers have so much trouble with
this that they are unable to retire
Losses in Retirement
• Research and anecdotal experience show
that it is much better to begin to start
new activities, classes and hobbies
before you retire, since many people do
not do this after retirement
• Lawyers that have reduced their life to
work will have a hard time finding new
interest( buried in the rubble of duty,
obligation and fear of trying something
• Loss of intellectual stimulation-Lawyers
are well educated and most are
intellectuals, doing a crossword puzzle
isn’t going to cut it-most lawyers want
something more substantial to sink their
teeth into
Losses in Retirement
• Loss of feeling useful and valuedmost lawyers are actually closet
“helpers”-in retirement this lack
of acknowledgement is usually
• Loss of social and professional
network-the loss of regular
contact with coworkers and
• If lawyers don’t broaden their
social network prior to retiringretirement will result in feeling far
less connected
Losses in Retirement
• The harsh reality is that many
friends and acquaintances are
situational-when you leave work
that “friendship” is over
• Leisure Paradox-for an activity to
be “leisure” it must be a
diversion: a vacation, a break
etc.-if it becomes our main focus
it is no longer leisure!
• Too much leisure and it ceases to
provide the pleasure and
restoration it is intended to
Loss of Identity
• Some lawyers actually have the
role of “lawyer” as their main
identity-rather than a role they
have for a while in their lives
• The problem with identifying with
your occupation is that you close
your mind to your non law
interests and passions. You forget
how to explore theses other parts
of yourself
• The experience can be like going
from being “somebody” to being
Changes in Relationships in
• Your network of relationships will
change in retirement, including with
your partner, children, extended
family, friends, former colleagues
• Your wife may experience “twice
the husband for half of the income”
• Use of space in your home may
change when you are around more
• Your children's view of your
retirement (free babysitting)may be
very different than your own(glad to
be free of my children)
Impact of Retirement on
• Much research shows that “the
retirement transition itself is
related to decreased marital
satisfaction and increased marital
• The good news is that once the
retirement transition becomes the
new status quo (after about 2
years) marital satisfaction
• Often good conflict resolution
skills will predict how well a
couple does
Life Satisfaction and
• Research shows that the most
powerful predictor of life
satisfaction after retirement is the
size of a persons social network
• Many lawyers let their circle of
friendships suffer as a consequence
of practicing law-this grievous error
will cost them dearly in retirementunless they actively learn to make
new friends
• Socially active people live 2.5 years
longer than people who are not
socially active
Fears and Dreams in
Retirement for Women
• Women’s fears often include-fear of
losing their identity, being responsible for
their partners social life and
entertainment, (twice the husband for
half the money) experiencing a disruption
of established patterns, needing to take
care of everyone, financial and health
issues, outliving their spouse
• Women’s dreams often include returning
to school, becoming an entrepreneur,
meaningful volunteering, renewing
relationships and enjoying life
Fears and Dreams in
Retirement for Men
• Men's concerns include lack of status, lack
of social support, lack of purpose,
declining physical abilities, poor
communication with significant others
and “failure to launch” kids
• Men’s dreams include an active lifestyle,
getting in shape, reviving romance with
spouse, involvement with grandchildren,
and developing new skills
• Both genders also wish for more travel• Good news-60% of couples report an
improvement in the marriage 2 years after
OAAP Retirement Survey
• 71% envision retirement as a time
to begin a new chapter in life by
being active and involved, starting
new activities, and setting new
• 29% envision retirement as a time
to take it easy, take care of
themselves & enjoy leisure
• Bottom line-few lawyers will
actually quit suddenly at age 65:
many lawyers will still be
working at least part time at age
Imagining your
• Some may want to simply walk
away completely and forever
• Some will want to phase out
• Some may work part time or work
as a consultant or independent
• Some may have to work out of
• Some may retire for a while, then
get back into law or some other
occupation or start a business
Participatory ExercisesExercise #1
• What is Your Personal definition
of retirement?
• What are Your Personal hopes
and dreams about retirement?
• What are Your Personal
concerns and fears about
• Take 5 minutes and write an
answer to these questions-then
introduce yourself and share these
with your table
Physical Health
• Only about 30% of the
characteristics of aging are
genetically based; the rest-70%are not-people are largely
responsible for their own old age
• Only about 21% of people over 65
have a chronic disability that
impairs activity to some degree
• Doctors believe about 70% of all
chronic diseases, including heart
disease and diabetes can be
warded off with timely sensible
changes in lifestyle
Health Factors
• Obvious changes include stopping
smoking, exercise, nutrition and
weight control
• A rewarding social network and
stable relationships are so
important we are devoting an
entire module to it.
• Exercise is even more important
as we age, inactivity combined
with obesity is a sentence for an
early death
Health Factors
• Walking 30 minutes, six times a
month reduces the death rate by
43% in older adults
• Walking also reduces the risk of
heart disease and stroke by 40%
• Exercise plans should include
components of aerobics, weights
and stretching
• Retirement plan#1-get in shape
stay in shape-start now
Cognitive Functioning
• Lawyers are by nature thinkers
and highly value their cognitive
functioning-will this decline as we
• The old myth was that mental
decline was inevitable and that
neurons die as we age
• New research shows that our
brains are constantly reorganizing
(neuroplasticity) and this process
speeds up with the amount and
complexity of new information
the brain receives
Cognitive Functioning
• Stimulated brain cells branch
frequently, with the result that
millions of new connections are
created and your brain becomes
• This means that our brains
actually grow when stimulated by
new material (material that is
unfamiliar to you)
• Examples are learning a new
language, learning to dance or
paint etc.
A Sense of Purpose in
• Old age is like everything else, to
make a success of it, you’ve got to
start young.
• You need a plan about what you are
going to do and be in retirement
• People who count on developing
new interests, activities and
involvements after age 65 and after
retirement often don’t
• Polls show retired people spend half
their free time watching TV
Transition to Retirement
• “Transition” can be defined as
ones psychological reorientation
to changes in life
• Life can be seen as a wave of
expansion and contraction rather
than a linear endless upward
• In eastern cultures age is revered
in western cultures it is reviled or
seen as a “problem”
• It is a time of less interest in
performance and doing and more
interest in meaning and being
Transition to Retirement
• It can be a time of the realization
that you will never be, do, or have
some things you dreamed of
• More importantly, it is also a time
when you realize that “chasing the
carrot” never will give you the
sense of fulfillment you thought it
• For some people letting go of
“trying to make it’ creates space
for you to do what you were really
meant to do
Transition to Retirement
• Gandhi (a lawyer) discovered at 50 his
mission of non violent resistance
• Cervantes did not begin his career as a
novelist until well past 50
• I believe Boomers will do amazing things
in retirement-some of us may do our best
or most valuable achievements in the last
third of our life
• William Bridges in his book Transitions
explains the phenomenon of transition
• He describes 3 stages, comprised of an
ending, a neutral zone and a new
• The transition out of “I am a
Lawyer” tends to be subtle but
profound at the same time.
• Those Lawyers who have made
the shift sometimes find it much
more difficult than they expected
even those who didn’t particularly
like being a lawyer in the first
• It is an experience of loss of being
“important” in the eyes of the
• Disengagement- separation from
the old role or setting
• Disidentification-not sure of who
you are anymore
• Disenchantment-one’s world no
longer fits that old or prior reality
• Disorientation-feeling lost,
confused, empty
Neutral Zone
• Gap between who you used to be
and who you are going to be
• Symbolically a desert, a time of
inner reorientation
• In traditional societies this was
handled well-People were taught
to chant and fast, and remove
themselves from society- “a
Neutral Zone
• Our culture does not honor such
• Requires surrender and giving in
to the emptiness, not trying to
escape it
• It is a time of anxiety and we may
feel detached or isolated
New Beginning
• Attraction to an idea, an
impression, an opportunity, a
dream, an image
• Self doubt is common here
• A process of reintegration, a
rebirth into a new reality
• If you allow it to occur rather than
resist it, it will result in new
energy and motivation
Transition Tips
• Take your time-it is a
psychological process and cannot
be rushed
• You may need to make short term
or temporary arrangements
• Expect fear, uncertainty,
confusion and doubt-it is usually
not a “pretty” process
• A good support system is crucial
Transition Tips
• Those who have had a life of transitions
(job/career changes, divorces and
remarriages, big health challenges, large
gains or losses of money) or those who
have already left law will have an easier
time of it than those who have had fewer
• In my experience of those who have left
law (voluntarily or otherwise) at first
almost all have some difficulty in seeing
themselves doing something else-but
when that “letting go” has happened a
whole new world opens up
Transition Exercise-Developing a
Sense of Purpose
• Exercise #3- What activities do I
anticipate being involved in after
retirement-what do I need to do now to
create this?
• Example: I want to paint landscapes and
portraits when I retire-I need to take a
watercolor class now!
• I want to be a good dancer-I need to take
dance lessons now!
• Share these with your group
• Research indicates you are
unlikely to start new activities
when you actually retire-you need
to start now!
Wheel of refirement Life
• “Wheel of Refirement Life” exercise
• On a scale of 1-10 draw a line where you
are now in these dimensions of your lifeline A
• Draw a second line of where you would
like to be when you retire-line B
• The gap (if any) represents what you need
to do or change NOW to get from A to B
• These are the action steps required to
make your retirement work out well
• What changes do I need to make?complete at least 2 of these now
What is So Great about
• The OAAP survey shows that retired
lawyers over 50 most enjoy the following
• More time and opportunity to travel
• Increased control over their schedule
• Time for community service,
volunteering, hobbies, recreation,
• More time for family and friends
• More time for exercise and fitness
• A slower pace
• Decrease in adversarial relationships
Aging Well-Harvard
• Based on the Study of Adult
Development at Harvard
University-the longest study of
aging in the world
• Predictor factors of successful
• Not smoking or stopping before
• Adaptive coping style (positive
outlook on life)
• Absence of alcohol abuse
• Stable marriage
Aging Well
• Regular physical exercise
• Not being overweight
• If you have 5 or more of these predictor
factors at age 50 Good news-you have an
excellent chance of being healthy and
happy (and alive) at 80
• If you have 2 or less at age 50- Good
news-you won’t have to worry about old
age-my advice? Quit practicing now, take
your OAP now, continue partying,
smoking, drinking and eating for the rest
of your (short) life
Aging Well-Cohen Study
• 21st Century Retirement survey by
Cohen-Major Findings
• Not having a retirement planning
program undermines the quality of
the retirement experience
• Prospective retirees should focus
as much on developing a balanced
social portfolio as they do on a
balanced financial portfolio
• Retirees want to be more engaged
in their communities –not less-get
Aging Well
• Retirees report a limited number
of new friends and even fewer
new close friends-get social!
• The single most important
question for influencing thinking
about retirement is “what gives
you a sense of purpose in life?”The almost universal response is
“making a contribution toward
helping others”
• Retirement is not all or nothingmany retirees work and retire
Completion of Retirement
• Complete your retirement vision
exercise-taking into account all
you have learned today
• Note any parts of it that you may
have doubts will actually happendiscuss with your group what
would it take for there to be no
doubt about it
• Get behind your own visionenergize it-by standing and telling
all of us what it is in an
enthusiastic way
Great Books
• Aging Well-by George Vaillant,
M.D.-A book about how to age
• Age Power- by Ken Dychtwald-A
book about how boomers will
reshape the meaning of aging
• Lawyers at Midlife –by Michael
Long-a retirement book
specifically directed at lawyers
• The Retirement Time Bomb- by
Pape-a detailed book about
financial planning for Boomers

Retirement! - Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia