Author: Kim Potgieter

Navigating the new normal

I, like many of you, entered 2020 full of hope for the new year and all the opportunities it would bring. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that three months in we would find ourselves in a state of turmoil. The Coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a new normal, which is unlike anything we have ever seen before. Our lives have turned upside down, and we’ve all had to put measures in place to adapt. Social distancing, online schooling and remote working have become the norm in the space of a few days.

The past week at Chartered was spent making the necessary plans and adjustments to set up our staff members to work from home. It’s been a hive of activity installing the essential software and providing the required training to all our staff to ensure that we can stay connected with you, our clients, and with each other.

We are working tirelessly finding ways to stay in touch. This will be done through Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webinars and Podcasts. We will be sending out detailed step by step guidelines explaining how to navigate these new systems. It’s a learning curve for all of us, and we promise to support you every step of the way. I often joke with the team at Chartered that if they can teach me, they can teach anyone.

There have been moments this past week, where I have felt completely overwhelmed by the uncertainty of what lies ahead. A hundred scenarios playing out in my head. When this happens, I stop myself and recite the serenity prayer – God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I have always found immense comfort from this prayer in times of uncertainty. So, what do I have control of? I can socially distance, I can find things to be grateful for every day, and I can be open to the learning opportunities that our new working environment will bring.

The weeks and months ahead are going to be difficult. They are going to require all of us to dig deep. I encourage you to use this time at home to practise self-care. Have longer, deeper conversations with the people you love, rest and read. Most importantly check in with people, we need each other now more than ever. Please keep in touch, your comments and ideas are always appreciated. We are all doing the best we can right now, we don’t know when it’s going to end – but we know it will end.

Warm Regards

A NEW WORK STATE OF MIND

This month we say goodbye to Kim Forbes who touched our hearts, and the hearts of our clients over the last six years. She has captivated us with her extraordinary talents as writer and Life Planner, and has inspired us with countless stories for Retire Successfully.

Kim will be taking a sabbatical from her work-life; time-out to explore, unpack and re-pack her life going forward. Such a period of introspection takes a huge amount of courage and a great deal of learning.

I’ve had quite a few conversations with clients over the last couple of months who are in a New Work state of mind. Clients who are either entering midlife with a self-urged desire to reshape their personal and professional lives, or, clients who find themselves having been retired from their formal place of work. This is one of the most significant transitions that midlife brings, and as scary as it may be, it is also a wonderful opportunity to re-design your life exactly the way you want it. It’s about taking stock and re-inventing your whole self for the journey ahead. Richard Leider and David Shapiro (authors of Repacking your Bags) refer to this as planning for the good life, by “living in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work, on purpose.”

Re-inventing yourself for a new world of work starts with courage. It starts with the courage to give yourself the space you need to figure out what you would like to do in your next chapter. It’s about resisting the urge to plough right in without checking in with yourself first. It’s about giving yourself permission to take the time you need to explore new avenues, investigate new possibilities and to truly do the introspection of what would bring true meaning, purpose and joy.

Courage also means embracing the uncertainty that re-invention brings, and being comfortable with not having all the answers right at the start. Eckhart Tolle says that “being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you,” – and the answers will come as you transition into a New Work state of mind.

I have learnt that transitions bring about new learnings, and often the unlearning of old habits and past formulas that’s not in line with where you want to go. I have compiled three exercises that Chip Conley and Barbara Waxman introduced me to during my stay at the Elder Academy last year, specifically for recalibrating and re-designing your life in midlife – click here to access them.

Thank you Kim Forbes for bringing this message home! We wish you courage, contentment with uncertainty, an empty suitcase for the things you want to unlearn, and a brand new flamboyant travel bag for repacking in your midlife journey.

3 exercises to help you transition into your next Chapter

Here are three exercises that Chip Conley and Barbara Waxman, international coach, author, speaker and also co-facilitator at the Elder Academy introduced me to. I personally found them very useful, not only in my journey to becoming a modern elder, but as a valuable exercise for any transition that you may be contemplating.

  1. Compile your packing list
    Barbara Waxman coined the phrase “Middlescene” and describes this as a new life stage, one where you can harness your experience and wisdom to revolutionise your life going forward. To guide you through midlife, Barbara introduced us to the “packing list”. Your packing list contains everything that you would like to take with you on your journey into the next chapter. Packing up also means decluttering, throwing away the old, discarding what no longer serves you and keeping what adds value to your present and future life.
    As easy as it may seem, a packing list involves a whole lot of difficult decisions to make. We all have clutter! And everyone has a different battle with clutter. The process is one of introspection, and as you get clarity on what you don’t want in your life, what you do want also becomes clearer.
  2. Compile a list of your values
    Your values reflect what you care about. Knowing what you value above all else in life is a powerful tool, it gives you a sense of control and power. Your values guide your behaviour and actions and serve as a checkpoint when designing your life. With your values written down, you can continuously refer back and ask yourself if the decisions or action you are about to take, align with your values.
  3. Start a journal
    I have always believed in the power of journaling. The act of writing down your thoughts, hopes and dreams, give them power. Journaling is a powerful architect of self-discovery – it gives you clarity, improves your problem-solving ability and guides decision making. I love this quote by Susan Sontag, American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, and teacher: “In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.”

“Midlife, when approached with a more expansive or growth mindset, provides and unprecedented opportunity to recalibrate and design the life we want.” – Chip Conley.

From healthy resolutions to healthy habits

The new year is a perfect time to reflect on your habits and click that refresh button to start anew. Retiremeant™ doesn’t mean slowing down; instead, it’s a fresh start to live your second chapter to the fullest, and your health and vitality lie at the very centre of your being.

Resolutions are tricky. You may have the determination to become fitter and healthier but find it difficult to make big changes all at once. A fitness routine that works for others may not be a perfect fit for you. So, instead of making health a resolution, why not start by adopting new health habits that inspire you?

My health goal is to run a 10km race in April this year. It’s a big goal with a firm deadline! Luckily, I love running, so a daily run isn’t a chore for me. The difficult part is sticking with my habit.

To keep me motivated, I chose an accountability partner: a virtual running coach combined with my trusty Apple watch. My running coach supports me via email, sending me a daily fitness programme based on my progress, and, in turn, I send it the training data direct from my Apple watch. It’s quite remarkable if you know how to use it – it tracks your run, speed, heart rate and even the number of calories burnt.

I love the Apple watch slogan – Find what moves you. With health goals, it’s important to find something you enjoy doing. It may not be running; it could be walking, dancing, yoga or cycling. Then add a drop of motivation. Why not find your own accountability partner? Perhaps someone who enjoys the same activities you do? Or who belongs to the same club? Your accountability partner is someone who inspires you to stick to your health habit and joins you in this journey.

Creating and sticking to new habits can be challenging, but you simply have to put in the work to get results. It helps to have a positive emotional response to the activity – it must feel good and make you excited to do more. So, make your health habits easy, make them fun and make sure you celebrate your successes along the way.

Although the 10km run is my end goal, I am delighted every day as my Apple watch delivers my progress reports. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, recommends having a habit tracker. In my case, it’s my watch, but you could, for example, cross off your calendar every day you stick to your health habit. It’s a visual reminder of your progress and extraordinary satisfying to record your success as you go.

And should you ever wake up in the morning, wondering if you could just skip your health habits for one day, infuse yourself with some inspiration and reflect on the words of fitness guru, Marsha Doble: I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing.”

Celebrating a life well lived

Life is unpredictable and sometimes, we experience such immense loss and sadness that it stops us in our tracks and forces us to pause for a little while.

December 2019 was such a time for me. Stew Lithgow, one of the first clients I ever helped transition into RetiremeantTM, passed away, leaving behind his wonderful, courageous wife, Kathy, and three adult children. Stew’s death came as a huge shock as he was tragically killed doing what he loved most, flying his glider in Plettenburg Bay. As a former SAA pilot, one of Stew’s passions was to share his love for flying with people in his new hometown.

I was utterly devastated for Stew’s family at his memorial service. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the plans they had made and everything they still wanted to do together – he was taken too soon. On reflection, I realised two things: Stew and Kathy treasured every moment of their life together, living fully in the moment; and, Stew has left the memory of having lived a full, happy and abundant life.

It was such a privilege to know Stew and I am so grateful for the time we spent together. As a couple, Stew and Kathy were true ambassadors for RetiremeantTM, living with so much meaning and joy – intentionally present and fully engaged in each area of their lives. Stew and Kath made their dream to live in beautiful Plettenburg Bay a reality; they travelled, and spent happy times with good friends, family and their children. It was always clear how much Stew loved Kath, how much they loved each other.

Stew did not merely pass on. His words and his actions passed forward a powerful message to nurture and grow, to make each day count and to live life to the fullest. In this newsletter we share an article written by Stew for Retire Successfully. We will always remember just how high you flew in retirement, Stew! Thank you for sharing your life with us.

I encourage you to prioritise love this year, to seize each day and fill it with laughter, joy and treasured memories.

May 2020 be your year to live life fully,

More reasons to say Yes!

I sometimes feel undecided. It’s like sitting on a seesaw, carefully balanced right in the middle between going up and down.

Saying “yes” as opposed to “no” is just like that. The weight of the extra responsibility may topple you downwards to “no” – but, what if you said “yes”? What if your “yes” opens up an opportunity to meet someone wonderful, experience something truly amazing or learn something quite unexpectedly? Caption: Kim in her garden with Helen and two club members

I received a call in July this year from lady who introduced herself as Helen. She heard that I had a lovely garden and wondered if she and some members of her garden club could view it as a venue option for their next event. I was hesitant. I had been so busy and didn’t really want to take on an extra project. Also, inviting strangers into my home feels like an intrusion into my private space.

To my astonishment, I said “yes!” Helen then surprised me by saying that she needed to inspect and assess my garden for its suitability to host the function. At that moment, I desperately wanted to replace my “yes” with a resounding, regrettable “no!” But I really could not retract my offer.

I finally met Helen during the site visit to my garden. We started chatting and she shared her story with: she had felt at a complete loss after her husband was murdered in their home after a senseless break-in. Searching for beautiful gardens to host the Union of Jewish Women’s charity events had kept her motivated to get out of bed and make a difference in the world. It’s something she really enjoys doing and it gives her a wonderful new purpose.

Helen’s story shook me and I realised anew how strong and resilient people are. Even though Helen is still struggling to make sense of this tragedy, helping others has given her the strength and willpower to rise, face life and still make a significant and fulfilling contribution.

Two months later, forty ladies enjoyed a wonderful morning in my garden. I shared with them the philosophy of how our money beliefs impact our relationship with money and our lives. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event and a good sum of money was raised for the less privileged.

I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to meet Helen and the other members of her club – they truly do inspirational and courageous work.

Why not try saying “yes” the next time you’re asked? It may just open up a world of magic and new opportunities that will surpass your expectations.

Steering your course with purpose

My son, Josh, is leaving home next year. He’ll be going to university – in a different city. I’m nervous and excited, but most of all, I am an incredibly proud mother, because I know Josh is ready for the journey. Sure, it’s not going to be easy, for him, or me, but it’s a transition necessary for his development and growth. And it will be one of many transitions that he’ll face in his life.

Retirement is like that, too; it’s not the final frontier. Retirement is but one transition – and within this journey, there are many more. Retirement is filled with opportunities: new work, a new social circle, new hobbies, a new lifestyle … the list goes on. But as life and your circumstances change, there’ll also be challenges, choices and decisions. So how will you steer your course ahead with intent and purpose?

In preparing Josh for his transition, we spoke about his internal compass. We all have one – your true north, your gut instinct, everything you know about yourself that is true to you.

In my mind (you may have your own ideas), your internal compass has three components: a positive mindset, your top values, and having an integrity partner. These serve as a checklist, a benchmark to guide your decisions – whichever journey you are embarking on.

Positive mindset

I have said it before – attitude is everything. So often, when faced with the unknown, we spend a lot of time in our heads worrying and feeling anxious about the possible outcomes. Neuroscientists believe our brains are wired in such a way that we fill in the missing data; and very often we fabricate imaginary experiences and outcomes not based on reality. So, keeping a positive mindset is an attitude; it’s about continuously challenging imagined realities, reassessing your thought patterns and structuring positive thinking with intent.

Your core values

Your values represent your true self, and once you are clear on your top values, you can always check in with yourself to see if your decisions line up with your values. Lucky for me, Josh’s core values are achievement and discipline, which I’m pretty sure he’ll keep in mind when faced with a choice between partying or studying – though I may just convince him to add a fun element to his values list.

Integrity partner

I have previously written about Brené Brown’s concept of having a square squad in your life. Your square squad or integrity partners are the people in your life whose opinions matter to you; they hold you to your values and provide support when you are most vulnerable. These are not side-line critics, but people who will have open and honest conversations with you.

The good news is that the wisdom is already inside you, you have everything you need to be strong and confident. You just need to tap in your instincts – and your truth.

Best wishes,

Money lessons I wish I knew when I was younger

I have been doing some spring-cleaning. I had a perfect excuse to declutter. We were preparing to host my son, Josh’s matric farewell pre-drinks at home. Spring-cleaning is a wonderful cleansing exercise, and it doesn’t stop with throwing out the old and tidying up what’s messy. It’s about sifting through the chaos and making space for what matters most in your life.

I was recently invited by Yvette Johnson on Classic FM to share my insight on money advice for every stage of life. As we spoke about money lessons I taught my children, I reflected on the money messages I heard while growing up. Although I am grateful for the money lessons I learnt in my life – and am still learning – it has been a difficult journey. The journey to heal my relationship with money took almost twenty years. I have decided to make a list of what I wish I knew about money earlier in my life. Here’s my top four:

  1. I wish I worried less, and knew what I was worrying about. Today I know it wasn’t really about money; it was about my relationship with money; what I thought money could give me and what money said about me.
  2. I wish I didn’t rescue family members in debt, then expect them to change their money habits, and be grateful for the help. Today I realise that you can only make a money mindshift when you are ready – when you want to change. I now prefer to gift money, with no expectations.
  3. I wish I knew that money has no power to control. I tried so hard to accumulate my own money so that no-one would have power over me. Today I know that it’s not really about money; it’s self-development work that I needed to do – and am still doing.
  4. I wish I didn’t overcompensate for what I lacked in my childhood by buying my eldest son everything I never had as a child. I only realised much later that he didn’t really want what I thought he needed. I have matured, and with the help of my husband, our middle and youngest children are raised with a more balanced view of the value of money.

But life is balanced. Some money lessons have served me well. Here are two money lessons that I am grateful for having learnt early in my life:

  • I have always had an abundance money mindset. Positive, entitled and plentiful thoughts attract money into your life.
  • I have constantly paid myself first, putting away savings, investments and rainy-day funds before spending the rest on living.

We would love to hear about the money lessons you wish you’d known earlier. Remember also to share the money lessons you are most grateful for.

Ageing with gratitude – it’s all about your attitude

Don’t you just love this time of year? September must be one of my favourite months. I love walking in my garden, watching the new blossoms beginning to sprout and, yes, of course, September is just one month away from October – when the Jacarandas bloom!

Come to think of it, I have many favourite months: December is top of my list. December excites me: it’s family time, it’s fun time and it’s a time of giving. I love that! And then there’s the birthday months. We celebrate birthdays in a big way in our family – each one as joyful as the next. We make sure to spend every birthday together as a family, and it’s definitely not a proper birthday celebration if it’s not filled with fun.

The funny thing is, fun is different for all of us. I love being surrounded by my family and friends – by my people and loved ones. My husband’s idea of fun is creating an experience. For him, there is no better way to celebrate than going away with his family on an adventure, making new memories. But whatever your idea of fun is – make sure you’re having it! And remember to pack a big dollop of enjoyment into your Retiremeant™ suitcase.

I recently had a lovely chat with Yvette Johnson on the Fine Living Classic 1027 show on exactly this topic: How to turn your age into your greatest asset! She asked me if ageing is a daunting transition and wondered if the retirement community suffers from specific ageing stigmas. Well, yes, of course there are certain stigmas that come with ageing, such as unwanted help offered by strangers – or even more negative ones, like rejection. But attitude will get you everywhere – in the most positive sense of all!

Sure, if you are going to stand in front of the mirror and criticise your laugh lines, or the extra weight around your midriff; if you are going to choose to be negative and grumpy – then that’s exactly what might happen. But if you choose gratitude and attitude – then that’s what will bring you pure joy!

I have met so many incredible Retiremeant™ clients who are doing wonderful things in this phase of life – because they choose to make a difference. It’s about standing in front of the mirror and asking: What can I bring to the world? What have I learnt that will truly make a difference?

So, let’s re-visit packing our suitcase into Retiremeant™. What will you bring with you? Be sure to pack everything that works for you first, whether it’s your hobby, your relationships or your favourite music. Here’s what you don’t pack: anything that diminishes your self-love, your values and your sense of gratitude. These may be worries or fears that don’t serve you, habits and beliefs that don’t nurture you, or relationships that don’t bring you joy.

Now that you’ve got extra space in your suitcase, we get to the exciting part – packing something new. Ideally, you’ll be packing in your optimism, your positive attitude and your sense of adventure. Why not also pack something fun for every month of the year? An umbrella for walking in the rain in January; a beach hat for a sunset walk in February; a pen and notebook for writing your wisdom memoirs or a big tub of ice-cream for a midnight snack in June.

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after- thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” – Nanea Hoffman, blogger and founder of Sweatpants & Coffee.

Wishing you all joy in your Spring packing and unpacking!

Opinions That Matter

We constantly listen to feedback and are exposed to many different viewpoints in our lifetime. It eventually becomes difficult to know whose feedback and opinions really matter. We all have a desire for approval, but when you link you social and psychological well-being to the approval of others, you may have to take a long hard look at exactly whom you will allow to influence your sense of self-worth.

There are various types of feedback: some are constructive, many are negative and then there’s the “suck-up feedback”, as Brené Brown puts it. We even get feedback from people who don’t really know us at all … people who feel compelled to judge our decisions and actions without understanding where we’ve come from or how we got to this point. Critical comments are rife on social media, and even if it comes from someone completely unknown, it often stops us dead in our tracks.

If you had to listen to, and take all the feedback you receive from all corners of your extended social circle to heart, you would so exhausted trying to please the world, striving for perfection, that you would not be brave enough to fully enter the arena of life. You simply cannot afford to mould yourself into what others need you to be.

Decide whose opinions matter

It is hard to be brave when we define ourselves by what others think. At the same time, if we stop caring about what others think, we’re too armored for authentic connections. So how do you get clear on whose opinions matter?

Here is a lovely exercise from Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead – she calls it the Square Squad exercise.

Write down the people whose opinion really matters to you in this small square. Notice how small the square is – you can only jot down the names of the people whose integrity you value, as long as it fits into the square. Your square squad or integrity partners must be a small group, so take as long as you need, edit your list until you are left with only a few.

Now fold it and put it away. I keep mine in my purse, so I am constantly reminded of whose opinion counts in my life.

Then, take some time and reach out to the people in your square squad. Let them know that that their opinions matter to you. Tell them that you are grateful for having them in your life and thank them for caring enough to be honest with you.

Your square squad comprises people who love you because of your vulnerability and imperfections, not despite them. They are not yes people. They are the ones you can count on for honesty and support, despite your setbacks, mess-ups and failures.

Pay attention

I recently used this exercise during a training session, and one attendee told me afterwards that he experienced an AHA moment – the three people in his square squad were the people he was spending the least amount of time with.

Life is peculiar like this. We tend to spend time with people who make us feel guilty for not spending time with them, and those who really matter are right at the back of the line. It’s because we know they will love and support us no matter what.

On this note, I wish all our special women clients a joyful Women’s Month – may you keep the company of those who truly matter.

Remember always to be inspired, be brave and be on purpose.