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Semi-retired friend feels inadequate
Old 10-18-2014, 12:54 PM   #1
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Semi-retired friend feels inadequate

My American friend here in the Philippines is 68, good health, and working about 40% of the time making good money (instructor in about 3 countries for a major software product). He just moved into a beautiful brand new condo in a great building near me and furnished it with the best furniture, and he has a girlfriend he really loves and he has helped her and her family out a lot, not superficially but in ways that have changed their lives.

He could fully retire but he has a pretty good gig that could not be duplicated so basically if he retired that would be it, but he enjoys what he does and does not want to quit.

But he continues to be dissatisfied with his achievements in life. He told me that when he had finished moving into his condo last week, he was listening to some nice music on his sound system, and that all he could think about is "what's next". He feels like he is not accomplishing enough in his life and that if he retired he would feel like he is not making enough of a difference. I think he has been real driven to succeed his whole professional life. He is one of those people that gets bored when he is not working very much. He is a very extroverted person.

He asked me to really think about this and help him (interestingly, this is the second person to request this from me just this month). Any thoughts on an approach or on-line resources for him, etc.?
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Old 10-18-2014, 01:20 PM   #2
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Eh, I wonder what his goals are in life. 68 is quite a long time to realize that you haven't met your goals, assuming he had goals in the first place. Did he want to be the CEO of a major corporation? If he is happy where here is, then he needs to be happy where he is.

Making enough difference in what? The world? Tell him to go grab an AK47 and fight ISIS or go to Liberia and volunteer in one of those Ebola clinics. (and no, I am not kidding)

The guy sounds like a workaholic, honestly and probably is seeking glory and accolades along with a lofty title. Being driven to succeed is great, but you have to have a goal/target in mind.

What's next after moving in? Go find a nice local place to eat?

I know of a lot of people who seem to have regrets when they retire or are forced out of the workforce. Lots of people seem bitter or unhappy about some element.
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Old 10-18-2014, 01:33 PM   #3
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The guy sounds like a workaholic, honestly and probably is seeking glory and accolades along with a lofty title.
I would tell him to leave me the hell alone. He's too much of a downer.
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Old 10-18-2014, 02:01 PM   #4
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I would tell him to leave me the hell alone. He's too much of a downer.
Okay, that literally made me LOL.
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Old 10-18-2014, 02:12 PM   #5
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An extroverted type-A personality? He can be a nice person, but no way I can be close to become friend with one like that. So, don't know how I would be of help.
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Old 10-18-2014, 02:14 PM   #6
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Maybe it is just his personality--he needs to have a "what's next" and something structured to be doing (even if he is applying his own structure, as moving into the condo). DH is similar, not at all unhappy with his life and accomplishments, but needing to feel like he is accomplishing something--retirement has been so good for him as he has been able to branch out in many areas.

Your friend's schedule seems to afford him plenty of time to enjoy his life, so I suggest you just agree with him and let it go. You are a good friend
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Old 10-18-2014, 03:52 PM   #7
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I had the "what's next?" feeling for a while after first retiring. Then I got over it. After 1+ year of ER, I don't have that question any more.

Ask you friend what he enjoys doing outside of work. When was he happiest in life? Any pursuits he wants to pick back up? What did he enjoy doing when he was a kid?

He could always keep working if he enjoys it and enjoys the benefits of the $$$.
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Old 10-18-2014, 04:42 PM   #8
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This doesn't sound surprising to me.
A Type A personality, and he will probably never stop doing what he does.

Why do Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and all the other billionaires still go to the office every day? For the same reason the chicken crossed the road.
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Old 10-18-2014, 05:04 PM   #9
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I guess I'm type Z, because I don't relate to your friend's concern at all.

I'd imagine that in the Philippines there'd be no shortage of opportunities for volunteering & philanthropy. Maybe your friend could get involved with a reputable organization that's trying to help people there?
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Old 10-18-2014, 05:10 PM   #10
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This is an excellent book that might help your friend and the approach I use for change (try things out IRL and don't introspect your way into life changes):
http://www.amazon.com/Working-Identi...pr_product_top

It's also a good approach for retirees to use to figure out "what's next?" as well. IIRC, there's a few profiles in there of people who've moved towards making a difference via non-profits.
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Old 10-18-2014, 06:15 PM   #11
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...But he continues to be dissatisfied with his achievements in life. He told me that when he had finished moving into his condo last week, he was listening to some nice music on his sound system, and that all he could think about is "what's next". He feels like he is not accomplishing enough in his life and that if he retired he would feel like he is not making enough of a difference.
Maybe he doesn't have any problem at all. What is wrong with being dissatisfied with your achievements and wanting to do more? It is the same as others of us who are not satisfied with our travel adventures and want to travel more?

Nothing wrong in my opinion to be looking for "what's next." I had a business associate much older than me, started a successful medical device company in the 1950s and worked until he died at 85. One time I asked him, why did he keep working so hard when he was obviously wealthy already, he said he felt he was making a difference and he obviously enjoyed what he was doing. What is wrong with that?
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Old 10-18-2014, 08:01 PM   #12
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It sounds like he needs something new and different and to step outside his comfort zone. Start a business? A degree in a new field? Volunteer? Learn to paint? Play the cello? It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a world class expert at something. Maybe he is the type who needs to have a big goal to work on to be happy.
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Old 10-19-2014, 09:56 AM   #13
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Thanks for the replies, and I am still not sure about it. I can tell that I am not really providing enough details simply because I don't fully understand this person's feelings better.

The other friend that asked me about this this month said that what many people view as life advancement or keeping busy in retirement is really more like selfish self-actualization and you are not really helping other people by doing (only) that. I get the sense that this is also what my 68 year old friend is feeling.
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Old 10-19-2014, 10:20 AM   #14
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I have felt inadequate my entire life, and always looking at the next 'thing'. Drives DH (Mr Mellow) nuts. Retirement just opens up all sorts of other choices of things I can be inadequate and mediocre at, but just a lot more fun...sailing anyone?
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Old 10-19-2014, 10:41 AM   #15
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I have felt inadequate my entire life, and always looking at the next 'thing'. Drives DH (Mr Mellow) nuts. Retirement just opens up all sorts of other choices of things I can be inadequate and mediocre at, but just a lot more fun...sailing anyone?
I'm sort of the same way I guess. Caused, I assume, by how I had to grow up. (Surrounded by ignorance, anger and alcoholism etc) All my "greatest hits" and life's achievements seem "M'eh. So what?" to me. Including getting 2 degrees by simply challenging the exams and making a million bucks.

I stopped fighting the feeling. I'd rather feel inadequate, if that's really what I'm feeling, or mediocre by not doing anything and just enjoy the time off rather than feel the same way while busting my hump trying to keep scoring some kind of cosmic "brownie points". As Chuck De Gaulle said: The graveyards are full of indispensable men"
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Old 10-19-2014, 02:10 PM   #16
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Martin Seligman's older book, Authentic Happiness might be helpful to your friends. Although he discusses how to deliberately cultivate meaning a little more in Flourish, it's a generally less prescriptive book.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/sc...anted=all&_r=0
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Old 10-19-2014, 02:38 PM   #17
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Here's another book that might help. It's mainly aimed at just the sort of personality you describe.

The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement
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Old 10-19-2014, 02:43 PM   #18
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Peggy Lee has an answer.

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Old 10-19-2014, 07:54 PM   #19
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I've hated this song all my life. I'm pretty upbeat, and easily pleased and satisfied. This song is the antithesis of my personality.

I prefer this one.

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Old 10-19-2014, 08:23 PM   #20
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I'm pretty upbeat, and easily pleased and satisfied.
Which is why I posted it in re the OP.
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