You’re too old to be doing this!

A celebrated chef I will never be, but I do persevere with trying to be a half-way decent cook. I often wonder, though, when deciphering a new recipe in the hope of producing a culinary masterpiece, if I should just give the whole thing up. Stop trying to master the cooking skill and succumb to the Woolies Food run and resultant pocket drain.

Then, I was encouraged by Chip Conley’s article and gained two insights: learning is good for me, and so is letting go of measuring my cooking against everyone else’s.

Chip Conley, founder of Modern Elder Academy and author of Wisdom at Work, shares his experience of his journey to learn Spanish.

“My first half-dozen classes were brutal,” he confesses.

Frequently, he says, the feelings of stupidity would overwhelm him on the journey home, as he replayed the message in his mind: “You’re too old to be doing this!”

After watching a TED Talk, he came to realise that we, as adults, take ourselves far too seriously.

A corollary to this is that this can hamper our learning. “The fastest way to metabolise something new – whether it’s learning a language, trying to stand up on a surfboard, or joining a different industry – is to have fun with it,” he advises.

“And you can’t have fun when you are constantly worrying about how you are measuring up,” he adds. “This is essential 21st century wisdom as our most important midlife skill in a constantly changing world – learning how to learn again.”

Chip found he could laugh with his Spanish teacher, and they could talk about a range of subjects. Suddenly, the learning “felt less like walking on a balance beam and more like climbing on a jungle gym”, he says.

It was not a surprise then, that his Spanish improved, and he leaves us with this challenge for 2020:
What’s something new you could try with less seriousness and a lighter heart?

Here is this TED video that Chip Conley found so freeing.

Wake up to the warnings and change!

The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless global society transforms. So says the bleak warning published recently in the journal of BioScience on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference held in 1979. This latest statement (last year there was a similar one from over 20 000 scientists) was a collaboration of dozens of scientists and endorsed by a further 11,000 from 153 nations.

“We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” it states. “To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. [This] entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems”. There is no time to lose, the scientists say: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”

How do we wake up to this news and then blithely go about our days, business as usual, ignoring the horror of the climate crisis that is now daily apparent?

Last week my brother in Los Angeles packed what little he could into his car to prepare for evacuation as the catastrophic California fires raged. This week friends in New South Wales Australia choke on smoke as hundreds of ferocious fires burn along the east coast and exhausted and traumatised firefighters call on their government to recognise and act on climate as the fire season gets longer and hotter there too.

As millions suffer poverty and inequity and millions more become desparate climate refugees in the face of fires, floods (Venice is now underwater) and other climate disasters, droughts extend, water is ever scarcer, forests of the Amazon are burnt to make way for cattle ranches to feed meat eaters and oil drilling to line wealthy pockets, it is difficult to remain hopeful.

The scientists who penned the latest warning say the urgent changes needed include ending population growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, halting forest destruction and slashing meat eating. This will require completely redesigning the way our society lives and works.

The millions of children globally who climate strike on Fridays and new movements like Extinction Rebellion join ever increasing numbers of climate activists and scientists reiterating the calls for change. They talk not of climate change but climate crisis and are pleading for radical system change as the only thing that may save us.

Are you willing to change to give our grandchildren hope?

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.

Space to breathe

I recently received a remarkable gift: 10 days at Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre (IVAC) at the foot of the Chamundi hills in Mysuru. This is one of India’s cleanest, greenest and coolest cities, the place of sandalwood, silk, and yoga schools.

I have long thought I suffer from eco-anxiety, now recognised as a disease: forests on fire, 200 species becoming extinct daily, politicians worldwide spouting chaos-causing inanities, economies eroding, xenophobic hatred rampaging on our streets, murder and rape regular occurrences. I needed time out.

Despite recently having dropped out of a lifetime of work trying to save lives and landscapes, I find the stress and heartache of living on this suffering planet today weigh heavily.

Warm greetings and a meal were offered on arrival and I was taken down a path of young sandalwood saplings and ensconced in a large, cool bungalow. I quickly took the gap and slipped into another rhythm.

At dawn I walked up the hill towards the temple of goddess Sri Chamundeshwari who slew the demons. I strode past many chatting middle-aged men on their morning constitutional, some praying at small local shrines, bowing to trees garlanded in flowers and pictures of the gods, stretching, saluting the sun or sitting quietly on the side of the road in meditation, or on their phones.

I sipped the sweet, fresh air and marveled at the lack of litter (unlike the piles I see on Sandton morning walks and woefully also along the Atlantic seaboard).

Some hours of treatments included a range of Ayurvedic massages with herbs, oils and warm water. I got high every day at Pranayama (breathing) meditations; having space and an hour to breathe clean air, consciously, changed my consciousness, oxygenated the body and soothed the spirit.

Resisting many bargains on offer along the streets on the town few visits, I peered into Big Bazaar, the local supermarket, to glimpse daily Mysuru life and wonder at the diversity of bananas and fresh fruit and vegetable displays without plastic packaging. I ventured down leafy avenues lined by yoga studios, organic stores and hip coffee shops. Yoga teachers are trained here and young folk from all over the world come to learn.

Hatha yoga followed in a studio next to the pool where sometimes doe-eyed calves graze. It’s easy to quiet the mind to bird songs, insect buzz, patter of monsoon rain. Delicious breakfasts as I watched birds, squirrels and butterflies were a daily delight.

Though the bad news did not get better in the ‘gap’, I could accept that I cannot stop the nightmare that scientists assure us we are heading into. But I can enjoy the moment and feel gratitude for each day on which we do not experience dire hardship and tragedy. Whilst my work defines me still, it no longer rules my time. As my daughter told me the other day, this is my fun-employment phase.

Longevity calls for disruption

We are living on average 20-30 years longer than our grandparents. Longevity requires us to think differently about our next season of life, and how we design it. This calls for disruption and innovation. It calls for individuals, business and government to solve new challenges.

Chip Conley makes this statement in his new book Wisdom@Work:

“If you knew you would live to the age of one hundred, what new talent, skill, or interest would you pursue today in order to become a master?”
This is a great challenge, but how do we put it into practice? For each of us this is a unique journey of discovery. There may be several items on the list that you would like to explore. How do you go about researching all the avenues?

At 50plus-skills we are building a community and engaging in workshops, dialogue and peer-to-peer learning. We encourage members to share their activities, invite others to join workshops and to support and encourage each other as we progress.

Here are some of the ideas from our members.

Jane has enrolled in a 12-week online Machine Learning Course through Stanford University. There is no cost unless she wants a certificate for which a small fee is payable.

Mandi has been attending Spanish classes. She read a post from another member, Tommy, who wrote of volunteering through a company called Diverbo on an English Immersion program in Al Berca, Spain for one week. This is what he said:” You pay to get there and your reward for speaking 100 hours of English is you meet great people on this adventure, eat too much good Spanish food, and experience the culture of Spain in a special area, three hours’ drive from Madrid. I highly recommend this experience. https://www.diverbo.com/”

Jenny has always wanted to learn to play the piano and has at the age of 62, found a teacher who is showing her the basics. There is joy in learning something new, though engaging in a new skill can be challenging.

Christine applied for work as a nursing sister on a cruise liner and is working and seeing the world.

Ronel and her son each applied for teaching jobs in Thailand. They both work in the same school and Ronel has even brought her 80-year-old mom over with her as a dependent. Three generations are living together and experiencing a new culture.

Ideas are helpful. We need to stay open-minded to learn, engage and connect with diverse opportunities and people to create this disruption in our lives. It is so easy to fall into the comfort zone of life. Challenge yourself to learn something new at least once a year and to engage in some diverse groups that will help challenge your thinking.

Not how you play, but that you do

Chartered client, Stephen Marcus Finn, has found joy in resuming his piano playing, after a break of five decades from lessons, and at age 67. A passing challenge set him on a renewed path of learning, with him loving the process of studying and practising. His story is an inspiration to aim for enjoyment, not perfection, in our learning journeys.

At the Grahamstown Festival three years ago, my wife bumped into a colleague who said he had taken up the clarinet again. She told him that I’d started playing the piano, after not having had lessons for about 50 years – I was 67 then. He challenged me to do my Grade 8 within the year, as that was what he’d be doing, having Grade 7 already. My wife accepted, despite my protests of never having played any exam, and not even knowing the difference between a major or minor key. At her behest, however, I promptly started learning theory, eventually passing Grade 8 with the ABRSM with distinction, and continuing lessons intensely with my superb and patient teacher.

My practical was different. I could never hear the difference between the keys and any aural test by my teacher was a disaster. I graduated to hearing aids only after the exam, having read a magazine article about how older people lose hearing facility – so, I wasn’t alone.

Came the exam in just under a year, and I breezed into the room with a smile and a “Hello”, only to be met with a scowl and a, “You can try out the piano.” It was a Kawai and I was used to Yamahas. The touch was so different, I thought I’d need five minutes to get attuned to it. But after 10 seconds (I kid you not), I was told to start with scales, my strongest point. Well, each one I played, I had to restart twice as I fouled up. My Bach (always suspect) went really well, my Beethoven (generally acceptable) was, yes, acceptable. My modern piece (which I thought I could play brilliantly) sounded as if I’d never played it, or even the piano, before. I saw the examiner wincing. Sight-reading was good, but then came the aural tests. I knew I’d get 0 for those, so just tried to work out what the examiner would ask me, guessing wildly all the time.

To my astonishment, I passed quite well, despite a horrendous mark for the scales. My aural result was stratospheric.

I didn’t cover myself in glory but I loved the whole process of studying and practising. And my wife’s colleague? We found out a year later that he’d only been joking when he’d challenged me. But what an inadvertent favour he’d actually done me.

As a postscript, for my 70th birthday I gave a recital for my wonderful teacher, my family and friends, playing Chaminade, Alkan, Scriabin and Foulds. As one of my children said afterwards: “It’s not how you played, Dad, it’s that you played.”

How core values help you – and us

I recently did Life Planning for a client who shared with me that his one core value was Family. This value provided direction for his Financial Plan and whenever we discuss how to allocate money, a family holiday is always a non-negotiable and a top priority.

Being clear on your core values is as important for you to know, as it is for us as your Retiremeant™ Team; it guides us in allocating your money to align with your values, bringing more meaning and fulfilment to your life.

Like the theme of this newsletter, one of my core values is learning. It would make sense then, that a significant part of my money is allocated to learning and attending courses. Flowing from my passion to learn, is teaching, and nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing my knowledge with you.

Harry S Truman, the 33rd President of the United States reminds us that it’s what you learn after you know it all, that counts.

Core Values Exercise

Our core values are the fundamental beliefs that we hold dear. Living up to our core values or ideals brings a sense of worth and self-esteem, and if we don’t, we feel shame, regret or lack of fulfilment.

From the list below, choose three values that are most important to you. Be honest. Choose values that inspire your true self and feel free to add to the list.

Tip: You may want the work through the list and chose more than three values, but go back and narrow your list down to only three.

AchievementHappinessPower
AdventureHealthSelf-esteem
BeautyHonestySensitivity
CatalyseIndependenceSpirituality
ConnectednessInfluenceSuccess
ContributeIntimacyTeaching
CreativityJusticeTruth
DignityKindnessWinning
DiscoveryKnowledgeOthers:
FamilyLeadership
FeelLearning
FreedomMastery
GenerosityPeace
GrowthPleasure

Now, write down your top three values in order of most to least important.

  1. ___________________________________________
  2. ___________________________________________
  3. ___________________________________________

These are your core values: the ideals that are most important to you and which you most passionately believe in. Use them to guide your priorities for your life.

Source: David Krueger, Your New Money Story® Roadmap

The upshot of learning is teaching

In my search for learning about our relationship with money, I came across many references to David Krueger. After reading his book, The Secret Language of Money, I enrolled for his coaching course and qualified as a New Money Story® Mentor Coach in 2016.

I have since applied my money story learnings in Life Planning meetings and ask clients about the first money memory that impacted their lives. I am always reminded how money memories from childhood can still affect our relationship with money even decades later.

Krueger’s teaching, underpinned by neuroscience, is a powerful process that we at Chartered use to help clients understand and change their relationship with money. It revolves around beliefs, how that may differ from reality, and creates insight into “triggers” and thought processes that impact the relationship with money.

David’s work has also inspired me to develop a workshop on “Money Stories” and has influenced the topics of my Courageous Currency Conversation blogs.

David Krueger’s new book

Imagine my surprise, and delight, when David Krueger asked me to write a review for his new book – his 18th published book! It’s available on Amazon and if you would like to order a copy, just click here.

Meeting David Kruger

After reading his new book, I really wanted to connect with David again, and on my recent trip to the States, he was kind enough to set an afternoon aside to meet with me. According to our definition of Retiremeant™, David is now retired, living his dream by spending his time writing on his beautiful ranch while supporting his wife who has returned to University. He was the most generous host, spoiling me with a delicious meal and repeatedly asking how he could help me, and support me with my work.

Sharing David Krueger’s insights

I am passionate about understanding money and I plan to explore and share David Krueger’s work in much more detail in future. So, watch this space!

I want to share one very valuable exercise on ideals, or core values. Knowing what our core values are is vital if we want to understand our relationship with money. Our core values set us on our clear course and provide a compass for our life path. You may have done this exercise before, but please re-visit it, as your core values may have shifted or evolved.

Click here to access the exercise.

Entertaining at Chartered House

Our Chartered clients often share the many ways in which they are keeping themselves mentally challenged, in keeping with the LEARN category of the Wheel of Balance.

From career related learning, to leisure activities such as Bridge and photography, to online courses and games, to creative activities, like painting or dancing. And then … there is the annual Chartered Quiz.

In September, we hosted a Spring quiz for our clients at Chartered House. Teams were named after famous international pubs, such as The Crown and Anchor. Who would have thought there would be a team called The One-eyed Rat?

The competition was fierce, with teams rushing to devise the correct answers to questions across eight categories, including “Current Affairs”, “What in the World?” and “Masters and their Masterpieces”.

The general knowledge of the Chartered clients and planners proved impressive, belying the quotation from the quiz category “Who said that?”: Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. (Do you know what famous physicist said that?)

Maritime team prevailed, and beaming team members received their prizes. David Wallington was the winner of the draw. Filled with a delectable meal and a sense of achievement, the 2018 Chartered Quiz teams concluded the evening with the promise to challenge their rivals again next year.

 

Wise Words from the Balance Wheel®

Through the eyes of a child

Retirementor, Colleen-Joy Page, reminds us that Play can help us find our Purpose.

If 20 people see a sunset, why can’t all 20 see its beauty? Is the sunset giving more beauty to only some?

Often, we don’t give ourselves permission to see life’s beauty or to free the natural playfulness within us. Sometimes we think life has taken joy from us, or that we can only have fun under certain conditions. But, remember the child within you: rediscover the joy of simple things: the feel of sunlight on your skin, the joy of dancing with abandon, or the night stars, as you lie on the cool grass and breathe in the awe of the cosmos.

Sometimes if we are willing to drop our expectations, and see with the innocent fresh curious eyes of a child, we can find fun and joy in any moment. Ask yourself: “What do I really feel like doing right now?”.

What answers would free you to play?

Don’t be a tourist to your own life; let beauty, joy and play be free within you to fill all the empty spaces.

Redefining Work makes it meaningful

Retirementor, Lynda Smith, coaches her clients to define their passion and talents.

She uses this diagram helps them to craft a new kind of work. “It is critical to experiment and plan – think of all roles your portfolio life might include: consulting, volunteering, Board member, mentoring, a whole new enterprise, collaborating,“ Lynda says.

Lynda’s approach has three steps:

1. Create your Individual Vision List of goals to achieve, dreams to fulfil, experiences to have. Prioritise the 10 most important ideas on your list.
2. Share your list with your spouse or partner: listen to each other; appreciate what the other wants
3. Create a shared vision based on both lists. Figure out a flexible timeline.

Learning to love dance … together

Our clients, Brian and Ronelle Baker, were surprised that their second foray into learning to dance was so different to their first. Now they are having fun, keeping fit, learning and growing their relationship at the same time.

You can find their story by clicking here. Why not try a new area of learning and fun for yourself?

Creating healthy habits can change your life

Our wellness Retirementor, Joni Peddie, reminds us how essential daily health habits are to maintain physical flexibility.

Feeling tense and depleted at the end of a day doesn’t have to be the norm. Try stretching (in a subtle or deliberate way) every hour – it’s a great way to release stress and ground yourself. Stretching relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow throughout your body.

Stretch while you are lying in bed, in the shower, even in the car – simple neck turns and arm stretches will do the trick.  When reaching for something on a top shelf, take a breath, move slowly and hold the stretch for 20 seconds. (www.resilientenergycenter.com)

Giving Back … to the world!

Retirementor, Jeunesse Park, blogs about ways in which we can give back, especially to create a legacy for the next generation in preserving our planet, and protecting the dignity of every person.

She says: “I have never considered myself wealthy but feel blessed and grateful to have enough to eat daily. Yet, I live with an innate sense of the injustice and inequality of our society, driving me to devote most of my working life to the non-profit sector, focusing on uplifting lives through greening and food.”

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