Three Year Retirement Performance Review

Ok, so I am now “retired” for three years and I have not had a formal performance review.  If I were working in my full time job, I would probably be writing performance reviews this weekend.  I might have been one of the few people who actually enjoyed writing performance reviews because I viewed it as an opportunity to show appreciation for hard work and a job well done, to help develop people, and to give feedback that would be valuable for course corrections.

In the spirit of annual performance reviews, I am going to do a three year retirement review on myself.  Of course, I will be totally objective.

A good place to start is with my job description.  I had done extensive journaling (essentially a pre-retirement prayer journal) prior to my retirement in an attempt to follow God’s path for me and to establish a framework for how I would spend my time.  My belief is that I would have three basic buckets:  1)  Intellectual engagement activities, 2) Giving back/volunteer activities, and 3)Family care and personal care.  These three buckets are the closest thing that I have to a job description.

I attempted to determine what percentage of my time I would spend in each of these three buckets.  Like a lot of job descriptions, I believe these percentages ended up being a wild guess.  I thought, maybe one-third for each bucket.  I believe as I sit here at my computer that it has ended up being 25/50/25.  In the world of job descriptions, that is near-perfection relative to the initial wild guess.

Here is where it gets weird.  If my math is correct, a 7 day week contains 168 hours.  When you work a full time job, you think in terms of maybe a 40, 50, 60 or some other level of work hours in a week, and the job description is likely based on a 40 hour workweek, which may or may not be realistic.  But in this “retirement” phase, you think of percentages more in the context of waking hours.  More math then.  So, let’s say 8 hours sleep per night, means that waking hours are 112 per week. This is kind of how I think of my bucket percentages, in terms of this baseline waking hours.  Let’s be clear, I only have to wear a tie about 15 days a year now, so time spent getting that knot perfectly aligned with my collar is more available time.  Time spent commuting or in airports is now more available time.

Enough with the math.  Here is my review:  I am giving myself an A on my intellectual engagement bucket – I am on 3 boards and chair 2 committee’s and I really enjoy that opportunity for intellectual engagement and my unbiased opinion is that I am good at it.  My development opportunity is to continue to carve out time for regular continuing education (which I also enjoy).  On the Giving Back/Volunteer bucket, I give myself a B.  The reason for the B is this – most of my volunteer work is emotionally draining (e.g. working with cancer patients, often within a day or two of their diagnosis).  This work is very satisfying for me, but I am literally “on call” for a lot of this work with very little structure to the day or week by it’s very nature.  Maybe I have to take myself “off call” for periods of time, not sure.  The third bucket is Family Care/Personal Care and I give myself a B+.  Most of this has gone well, but I would like to find a little better balance on the personal care side.  I work out 6 days a week (3 with a trainer at a pretty high level), so that is a good grade, but my nutrition is not what it should be .  Starting Monday, I am going on a customized nutrition plan.  It is always good to have an “opportunity for improvement” category in your performance review where you have already taken action on it at the time of your review.

On the basis of this review, I am going to give myself permission to eat a serving of dark chocolate/peanut butter today (it is in my nutrition plan), take a nap, and do some calculations to see what my merit pay increase should be.


A Boomer In Transition

The Nursing Home

My Dad is in hospice at a nursing home and each week I spend time with him.  The first couple of times I went there it seemed really depressing.  It is.  Yet, I have come to appreciate the people who are gifted in working with elderly people in the last days, weeks and months of their life.  In addition to being a physically demanding job, the emotional toll may even be higher.  I am thankful that there are people who are willing to make this job their calling, and who do it with compassion, respect and diligence.

I have also experienced some significant belly laughs at the nursing home.  Amidst this environment that I described, things happen and words are spoken that fiction writers would never be able to create in their minds.  In order to protect the innocent, I am not going to get into specifics, but if you spend more than 8 hours in a nursing home, you will know what I mean.

Yesterday I experienced once of the most profound physical acts of compassion and understanding I have ever seen and it was between two residents.  My Dad has always been very social and extroverted.  He likes to be around people and see what is going on.  On my visit yesterday, he was having a tough day and it was difficult to get him awake enough to even know I was there.  So, I decided to get him around more people and started wheeling him all over the nursing home.  After a few minutes of this, we came across two nursing assistants trying to feed a resident who is in a very similar stage of health as my Dad.  My Dad has known this resident for years and now neither one of them can even verbalize a greeting.  As we were wheeling past, my Dad and this resident both simultaneously reached out their hands for each other and held each other for several seconds.  I think they both realized they are in about the same condition in this life and wanted to provide some comfort to each other (I spend most of my time in the nursing home holding my Dad’s hand as I know it provides comfort to him).

Amidst a place that few people aspire to spend much (or any) time, there can be great joy, compassion and understanding.  One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”


A Boomer (now 3 years )In Transition

New Blessings & New Gear

Over the past few weeks, we found out that we would be grandparents and would welcome a daughter-in-law to our family!

We are excited about both developments! It is also interesting  how quickly we have adjusted  our thinking on what we will add to our plates (or not) over the next several months as we both want to be fully present for these significant changes in our family.

Yet, another good reason for my decision to retire nearly three years ago.

On the topic of retirement, no regrets exist.  In two days, it will be 5 years since I was diagnosed with cancer.  I have not forgotten what a powerful catalyst cancer was to change some priorities in my life.  What I have forgotten is that fear of cancer returning has over the past two years completely disappeared and holds no power over me.  I used to know the probability of cancer coming back at years 1, 2, 3, and 5, and now I don’t even remember those numbers.

Instead of cancer probabilities, I am starting to get familiar with the plethora of baby gear that is now “needed”  to be an active grandparent, most of which did not exist when we had our kids!


Dean (Grandpa)

A Boomer In Transition

The 40 Year Reflection

I did something unusual this weekend.  I went to a social event, my 40 year high school reunion, and I stayed for 5 hours.

My rep is that I like to be one of the first out the door, as in leaving the event.  No so for this weekend’s reunion.

The next question you might have is why the change?  One potential answer is that I was not worried about recharging the energy levels for the week ahead.  I have an easy week.  No travel.  No speeches (that I am aware of).  No dress shirts or ties.

Another more important reason is that I had many meaningful conversations.  The time flew by.  I actually forgot to eat (maybe this is the trick to avoid snacking – have more meaningful conversations).    I only attended my 5 year and 20 year and I probably left within 2 hours at each and I don’t recall any meaningful conversations at either.  So why the difference?

My hypothesis is that at a 40 year reunion no one is trying to impress anymore.  Most have experienced joys, sorrows, loss and other significant life events and as a result “what do you do for work?” is seldom asked.  At 40 years out, examples of some of the conversation starters were:  “how are your parents?” , “do your kids live nearby and how much contact do you have with them?”, and “how are you doing after the loss of your spouse to cancer?”.

Not everything was that serious.  There was several minutes of discussion on how many students we had in our graduating class.  The numbers ranged from 45 to 58.  I was quite certain and confident in my view that it was 52, near the midpoint of the range.  There was also a lively discussion of what the school was thinking to “make us” act in a play called “Dumbbell People in a Barbell World”.  Let me clarify the phrase “make us.”  In a small school, it was all hands on deck for any drama productions. Nearly everyone was drafted and I don’t recall any serious auditions.  We also reflected on how none of us ever met with the guidance counselor. This then led to the question “what is the role of the guidance counselor?” and were we somehow harmed by not having this “guidance.”

My drive home was filled with reflections on the last 40 years, choices made, experiences of life and a sense of contentment and gratitude that I have been incredibly blessed.


A Boomer In Transition

If anyone tells you that retirement is problem-free . . .

They are a knucklehead.

This is has been a tough year.  Now well into my third year of retirement, the journey has become more challenging.  My first year, the transition from full-time work went better than I expected on almost every level.  I had a plan.  I like to have a plan.  And the plan not only worked, it worked better than I had anticipated.  The second year, for the most part, went better than expected.  Toward the end of the second year, I made some adjustments – some additions and some deletions in my activities – but nothing that was a problem.  The third year, so far, has been a different story.

This year has been marked by more ups and downs.  I like a smooth trajectory.  Life does not always give us a smooth trajectory, even in the glamour of retirement.  This year has been tough one for my spiritual journey and just in the last several weeks I feel like I am getting back on track.  The spiritual journey story is too confidential for this blog, but I am happy to discuss one-on-one with anyone interested.  As a result, I have not been active writing and journaling, activities that I enjoy.  I am slowly, and not in a straight line, getting back on track in that regard.

This has been a difficult year for my parents.  My Dad went through a challenging rehab program after an illness and is now in hospice with late stage dementia.  I walked through this journey with my mom, siblings and family and while it was difficult and emotional and draining, I feel incredibly blessed to have had the gift of time to be able to pour into this.  God also closed a door that would have put me out of state and generally out of touch during the most intensive time of this journey.  I did not know exactly why that door was closed months before this health journey, but I know now.

My own health has been more frustrating this year.  From a health perspective, this year has not been a smooth trajectory.  Did I mentioned that I like smooth trajectories?  This past winter, I caught every bug known to mankind (or so it seemed).  Then I had another bought of bad UTI that resulted in another ER visit in the Spring.  And this summer, I have been battling anemia and some doctor visits to figure that out.  This ended with another colonoscopy a couple of weeks ago, which was pristine (pristine is my new favorite word).  So basically, I just need to take a lot of iron supplements and eat more red meat.  I also continue to learn that I get goofier than normal with anesthesia.  For the colposcopy they must have used an old supply of laughing gas, because when I woke up, I could not stop laughing or smiling for at least 10 minutes.  When I woke up after my cancer surgery, my first words were “take a look at my Zumba moves.”  I have never done Zumba.

There have been a lot of positives as well.  The cancer support group that I lead has entered into a new phase of growth.  I have several regular people that who have now taken on leadership roles and that has been cool to see.  Other medical facilities in the upper Midwest are sending their bladder cancer patients to our group since we have the only one in the area, and that has been rewarding to experience.  Most importantly a lot of people are getting help for their journey and that is rewarding and satisfying, but it does take a lot out of an introvert (that would be me) to emotionally invest in this.  In this regard, my expanded leadership group is ready and willing to start carrying some of that load.

Our kids are doing well – for a parent this is probably one of the most satisfying and rewarding of the positives.  Erin and Carson have been traveling and experiencing the world, pouring into relationships, and growing in their careers.  Dan has had a great summer working at a private equity firm and growing in confidence and ability. We had a great family vacation to the Canadian Rockies.  Ok, I will stop here as this is starting to sound like a Christmas letter.

Thanks for listening.


A Boomer In Transition (and not journeying in a straight line)