Rejuvenate your relationships

When all is said and done, relationships are the most important part of life at work and at home

It is critically important for any manager or leader of people to be able to build and maintain relationships with colleagues, with those above them and with those below them in the corporate hierarchy.

Relationships are important because, without them, you’re going to battle to get anything done. That’s because the level of influence you have in anybody’s life is determined by the quality of the relationship you have with them.

Isn’t it frustrating to work with someone with whom you do not enjoy a warm and mutually respectful relationship?  No matter what you say or do, they’re really not interested in co-operating with you.  In the absence of a good relationship, there’s no influence.

It stands to reason, therefore, that in order to achieve anything significant both at work and at home, we have to be able to maintain vibrant relationships with others.

As we age, our capacity to connect is inclined to deteriorate.  It might be that we become, dare I say it, a little lazy about our relationships.  We take relationships for granted and simply don’t do the maintenance that relationships require and, because it takes a long time, we don’t see the cracks until they’re almost beyond repair.

We generally try to work at our relationship with our boss because we understand that it’s in our interests to do so, but peers could get the short end of the stick and younger people … well, they just have to suck it up, as far as we’re concerned.

Our relationship with others is influenced by our relationship with ourselves.  If you are not comfortable with yourself, if you don’t like who you are, if you don’t like what you are, if you don’t like what you’ve become, you don’t like who others are, what they are and who they’ve become.

If you feel that you are not as successful as you would like to be, you will resent the success of colleagues.  It’s said that “a friend in need is a friend indeed”.  This means that when someone is a friend to you when you’re in trouble they’re being a very good friend.  There is a lot of truth in this saying, but there is also another side to the coin.  In many cases, people don’t mind being your friend while you’re going through troubles because they secretly feel better than you.  It therefore gives them a sense of superiority to help you in your difficulties.

Watch what happens, however, when you get through your problems, come out on the other side stronger and start doing very well for yourself, or better than them (in their eyes).  THAT’S when you see who your real friends are!  Success is a very powerful indicator of who really is your friend.  If a friend is able to stick with you when you start succeeding and being able to afford things they can’t, that friend is a keeper.  They have not been so insecure that they felt threatened by your success.

But apply this principle to yourself. .. How are you coping with your friends’ and colleagues’ success?  As we age, we’re inclined to measure our achievements against those of others our own age and those much younger than us.  This can affect your relationship with others.  If you allow the achievements of others to intimidate you, you are going to continually be on the back foot, with a chip on your shoulder.  You will not acknowledge their achievements and you will find some way to do a PhD (Pull him/her Down).

As you embrace and celebrate your own life with its achievements, failures, lessons and limitations, you will be able to warmly applaud the success of others and so connect with them in a genuine and meaningful way, without hidden agendas.

When you show approval and acceptance of others, they will in turn do the same back.  It’s a very simple principle.  Don’t complain that nobody likes you, that nobody smiles at you, that nobody talks to you.  If you want people to like you, show them first that you like them.  If you want people to smile at you, smile at them first. If you want people to talk to you, talk to them first.

There’s no reason for our relationships to deteriorate as we age.  With a bit of humility, sacrifice and selflessness, we can continue to enjoy deep, meaningful relationships with peers, superiors and younger people that will make our lives richer than we could ever have imagined.

Curve balls

When unexpected life events affect your retirement plan

A lot of the time we encounter clients that have a very straight forward retirement in the sense that they work hard, save well, and then retire with enough money (and a well structured retirement plan of course) that allows them to pursue their life goals and live comfortably.  In these situations, when we talk bucket lists, we usually chat about exotic holiday destinations and adventures they want to pursue.  However, often times, as you will see in the stories that I will share with you below, there are people that simply aren’t able to spend their retirement savings on those dreams because life has thrown them a few unexpected curve balls.  Their bucket lists involve simpler, real-life desires that a few of you may be able to relate to.

Wally and Elaine were about to retire, but they had already drawn a substantial amount of money from their retirement savings.  Their son started abusing heavy drugs at a young age which completely took over their lives.  For years they tried everything but nothing seemed to work, until they found a rehabilitation facility called Tough Love which at long last managed to help him with is addiction.  But the years of struggle came at a cost which ate into their savings. Their son John has now been sober for 9 years and is happily married.  Wally and Elaine have had to make a few lifestyle adjustments in retirement, but they tell me that seeing their son happy cannot be quantified, and that the money was well spent.

There were other clients of mine that had to relook at their retirement plan when an unexpected life event meant that they had to dip into their retirement savings.  Bill and Linda’s daughter was in her 30’s and happily married, but in an unfortunate turn of events her husband started losing his sight.  She was a professional but hadn’t really been able to build a thriving business at that stage.  When Bill and Linda came to see me we had to structure their retirement income so that they were able to support two households – their own, and their daughters.  The long-term plan was to help her build a thriving practice so that they wouldn’t have to support her indefinitely.  Much to my surprise they echoed the sentiments of Wally and Elaine, and told me that they too had no resentment or regrets when it came to supporting their daughter through this tough time.

The lessons that I took from these experiences are that family and relationships are more important to most people than money.  I also learnt that everyone has very different priorities, and that a goal on a bucket list could be as real and emotional as saving a family, and doesn’t necessarily have to be frivolous.  It also reemphasised the importance of planning.  In the situations above, with the help of qualified retirement specialists, these people were able to make their lives work with the resources they had.

I love you but I need my space

When we do a retirement life planning meeting, we always encourage couples to come together.  There are a couple of reasons for this: Firstly as much as we believe in maintaining a person’s individuality in retirement, it is equally important to create a shared vision.  And secondly, communication between couples is sometimes lacking.  I often find that the couples I see don’t like broaching the more difficult topics of conversation.  And it’s my job to mediate, and get them to share.  The sad fact is that many couples discover that they want completely different things.

I saw a couple who had this very problem – they couldn’t see how retirement was going to work for them because they had completely different dreams for their lives in retirement.  Sue wanted to travel business class overseas and watch bands perform.  Jack wanted to stay home and spend time woodworking.  After sharing their visions it became clear to them that they needed two separate amounts of money so that they could enjoy their passions individually. Yes, this wasn’t the conventional retirement that most couples envision, but it worked for them. They both discovered that they loved the opportunity to be more independent, and felt a renewed connection when they got together – each invigorated by the new experiences they were having.

Spending time with you partner is obviously very important, but time apart affords you the opportunity to work on yourself and pursue your own interests.  In fact, it’s really quite unrealistic to share in all of each other’s interests.  Variety brings the spice – It’s healthy!  The key here is to listen to your partner and understand what is really important to him or her, and then to be open to the idea of experiencing things apart, as individuals.

Stay connected, stay fulfilled

Mitch Anthony, the author of The New Retirementality, writes about achieving success in retirement by being fulfilled in 5 core areas of life – what he calls the 5 Vitamin C’s.  I’d like to delve into one of them in this post – CONNECTIVITY.

If you’ve considered relocating for your retirement, have you thought about how that will affect how connected you will be to the people and places you enjoy?  All too often when clients come to do their retirement plans the first thing they tell me is “We are moving away from the madness that is Joburg.”  And often after our discussions the clients realise that if they were to leave Johannesburg they would feel too cut off from family, friends and their community.  If the clients really want to move away it is important for them to have a plans to replace what they have in their present community with something similar where they are going.

A couple came to see me the other day and their plan was to move to Plettenberg Bay.   I was immediately sceptical, but after listening to them I discovered that they had been preparing for this for years.  They had spent many of their holidays in Plett, and had gone to the local church during each of their visits.  When they made the move, they slotted into the church community with ease and were able to connect and establish friendships.  Peter had a passion for flying, so they had also bought a hanger for their plane.  They would not be leaving a void behind; they had managed to transfer all the things that had been important to them in Johannesburg to their new home at the coast.  I knew I didn’t have to worry about them.

The message here is to carefully consider the proximity of friends and family when you retire. So much of our happiness is dependent on the state of our personal relationships.  So it’s only natural that if you feel disconnected, it’s likely that you’ll feel unhappy.

By the way, The New Retirementality is a great read when you are planning your retirement, and I will be referring to it often in my blogs.

How to feel sexy for life

Don’t let your age keep you from experiencing the pleasures of intimacy.  Although libido may lessen as you age, here’s how to feel sexy for a lifetime.

As you grow older, it’s easy to lose that spark in the bedroom.  Boredom, loss of adventurousness, physical ailments, and other problems can overcome even the healthiest of relationships over time, causing a loss of libido and creating emotional distance.  But keeping intimacy alive can have profound effects on your life.

Research has shown that healthy people have better sex lives.  Fit people enjoy sex more and have a lower chance of dealing with a sexual dysfunction that can impair their love life.  If you’re experiencing a loss of intimacy, there are steps you can take to reclaim it.  Here’s how to feel sexy again.

Intimacy tip no 1:  Stay healthy

To keep your libido revved for lovemaking you should:

  • Exercise regularly.  Your arousal depends in large part on how well blood flows through your body.  Regular aerobic exercise can help keep the heart pumping and the blood flowing.
  • Eat right.  Maintain your health by eating a diet low in fats and sugars and high in fibre and good nutrition.  Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, plenty of whole grains, and a good daily amount of low-fat dairy products.  Protein should come in the form of fish, poultry, and lean meats.
  • Sleep well.  Good, healthy sleep gives your body the chance to refresh and recuperate.
  • Stop bad habits.  Alcohol and tobacco can harm sexual function and can negatively affect your overall health.

Intimacy tip no 2:  Communicate

Partners with a satisfying sex life talk to one another; those with an unsatisfying one need to talk to one another.

  • Voice your concerns.  Tell your partner about changes in your body that worry you along with any other issues that bother you about your sex life.
  • Describe what makes you feel good.  Your partner can’t satisfy you if he / she doesn’t know what you desire.
  • Don’t criticize.  Focus on what your partner is doing right, rather than pointing out the things they’re doing wrong.
  • Talk at the right time.  During lovemaking is the right time for discussing what you like and enjoy.  Save your concerns, worries, and more negative issues for outside the bedroom.

Intimacy tip no 3:  Improve your own game

Try these ways to be a better lover:

  • Think about sex.  The brain is an important — some say the most important — sexual organ.  Get your head in the game by thinking about your fantasies and desires more often.  Write down your sexual fantasies and share them with your partner.
  • Touch.  Maintaining physical affection is critical to keeping a love life happy and frisky. Cuddle, hug, kiss, and hold hands often, even if you’re tired or not in the mood for sex. During lovemaking, experiment with touching your partner in ways that please and arouse him / her.
  • Educate yourself.  There are plenty of self-help books available that will give you tips on improving your sexual technique.

Intimacy tip no 4:  Have fun

Don’t forget that sex is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.  Be sure to have fun in the bedroom (and elsewhere) by:

  • Trying out different sexual positions.  The tried-and-true missionary position can become stale.  Experiment!
  • Taking a break from intercourse.  Try pleasing each other with oral sex, manual sex, massage, and caressing.
  • Being inventive.  Leave love notes.  Plan an erotic getaway.  Try making love at different times of the day.  Read a love poem.  Craft a scene that appeals to all five senses.  Try having sex in different locations.

Most importantly, have sex and enjoy intimacy on a regular basis with your partner.


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