“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Once upon a time in the far-off land of Bermuda, a bank manager named Bill was discussing his impending retirement with a friend. He confessed that while he had all his financial “ducks” in a row, he was hesitant to accept a lucrative early retirement package because he had no idea what he was going to do with all his free time. He knew that he wanted to set up an office and continue consulting and also pursue his passion to write, but he was not sure if this would be sufficient to fill his day.
To forestall having to commit himself to anything in particular, he busied himself with renting office space downtown, finding suitable furnishings, and setting up shop.
For a brief while he zipped from one pasta-and-cappuccino lunch to the next, exploring the possibilities, he quickly realized that a spate of mundane business analysis would never satisfy his newly liberated psyche, for his soul was craving an adventure—a wild foray into uncharted waters.
As he cast about for some way to satisfy this yearning, he suddenly had an idea—he would create a blog and write about his struggles to transition from the work world to something more fulfilling. In a moment of recklessness, he mentioned this to his longtime business colleague, Robin, who replied,
“Brilliant idea! There’s just one tiny problem, isn’t there? You don’t actually know how to start a blog, do you?”
“Not a problem; I do. So what are we going to call it?”
This required quite a bit of thought because the hardest part of naming something these days is not coming up with a name but coming up with a name that is still available for purchase as a dot-com. Many brilliant possibilities surfaced, but regrettably they were already claimed by someone else. For the better part of a week, the working title was actually Gentleman Geezers, simply because it was available. Thankfully, common sense prevailed on the basis that neither one of the authors is a “geezer,” nor was the phrase likely to attract many female readers.
In fact, the more we thought about it, the more we realized that there just did not seem to be a suitable word for what we wanted to write about. The more we considered the meaning of words like senior, golden-ager, elder, and retiree, the more we realized that all of these words had been assigned negative connotations of infirmity, frailty, and diminished mental capacity. This, we agreed, was not what we wanted to write about at all.
The more we hunted through the thesaurus, the more we realized that what we wanted was a word that did not exist—a word that conveyed life and energy and opportunity and vitality as it pertained to an older person. And then it dawned on us—if we wanted to discuss an entirely new kind of life for “postretirement adulthood,” we were going to have to start by defining exactly what this life entailed and then create a vocabulary to describe it. That was a watershed moment for us that changed the course of the entire project.
“The tricky thing is that all the good words are taken.”
“They can’t be.”
“Then where does that leave us?”
“Trying to come up with a new word for ‘old,’ I think.”
“Hell no—I’m not old! I’m just older!”
After weighing the merits of just about every word combination we could think of, we eventually named the blog “Olderhood ,” our idea being that one transitions from childhood (your first life journey), through adulthood (your second life journey) to eventually arrive at a postretirement phase of life, which we termed Olderhood.
The “Third Journey,” therefore, is your passage through this third phase of life.
Before we embarked on this project, we would have said that retirement life was a time of creaky knees, conserving resources, and mending fences. We also assumed that although there were retired people all over the world, retirement concerns would vary greatly, depending upon ethnic, social, cultural, financial, and geographic considerations. We embarked on this project as a hobby, and we did hope that some people would be interested in what we had to say, but we never really thought that our voice would reach beyond North America.
Much to our amazement, we were completely wrong.
We launched www.olderhood.com in May 2013 and quickly discovered that retirement concerns cut horizontally through all levels of society in every country in the world. Everyone is concerned about health, finances, aging, keeping busy, maintaining their independence, and how to make a productive contribution to society.
In August of that year we also started a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Olderhoodcom) as a companion to the blog and immediately found that people in locations around the world, were desperate for lighthearted but accurate information on these six common concerns and a safe forum in which to share their experiences and seek advice. In less than six months we had followers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, New Zealand, India, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
The multicultural appeal that two people from Bermuda, a tiny country in the second most isolated community on the planet, had achieved was both astonishing and humbling. On New Year’s Day 2014, we celebrated the addition of our fifteen thousandth Facebook fan, as we endeavored to comprehend that perhaps we had found our mission—a mission so simple and yet so vast it would take the rest of our lives to fulfill: to create a road map for a new postretirement lifestyle that anyone can follow.
As daunting and impossible as this initially seemed, it was equally clear that we would have no shortage of help because our readers were not shy about telling us what they liked and wanted, and they enthusiastically encouraged their friends and family to write to us as well. Most surprising of all was that these people were willing to stand up and share their thoughts and feelings and emotions publicly online.
Given the diverse time zones in which our Facebook followers reside, we soon discovered that we were actually operating a twenty-four-hour “business.” It might have been three o’clock in the morning on our island, but it was three in the afternoon in central Manila, and every member of our expanding Philippine community wanted to chat with us and with each other.
To accommodate the nonstop activity, we decided to open a special group so that our most active members in Asia and India would have a place to convene and entertain each other while we got a little sleep. Although we were not certain whether anyone would like this idea, we named this Facebook group the Olderhood International Club (OIC) and ran a couple of notices on our main Facebook page to let people know how they could join. Our first member, a resident of Malaysia, joined in less than four minutes and promptly signed up all of his friends and relatives. Within a month there were well over one hundred regulars chatting and sharing information around the clock, and the more we listened to them and interacted with them, the more we learned.
A great number of our new friends proved to be highly educated retired professionals who are interested in natural remedies, sharing recipes, humor, wisdom, and battling loneliness and are willing to help each other with everything from advice regarding how to fill out pension forms to praying for the recovery of a loved one. Far from whining about failing health and sorry circumstances all day long, these people help each other up when they are down and have a huge appetite for friendship, fellowship, and humor.
They are also anything but shy, and they have offered their opinions, their perspectives, and their hearts to us on every step of this journey; many of the ideas that we have developed in this book were germinated as a result of our interactions with them. They have enthusiastically “liked” the material that resonated with them and kept politely silent on things that did not. They helped us cut a new path for everyone to follow. We gratefully acknowledge these wonderful people from all corners of the globe and recognize their support.
In our efforts to develop original, quality content for our online audience, we tested most of our potential material on the OIC group. They heard our first podcast, watched our first video blog, completed surveys, and downloaded e-books. They offered comments on hundreds of original inspirational quotes, phrases, and terms, some of which you will find in this book.
We were just starting to get the hang of all of this when something completely unanticipated happened—our Philippine OIC members suddenly decided that they wanted to form a proper club and hold face-to-face gatherings. Today, there are several OIC clubs in the Philippines that meet regularly and even go on group vacations. (See Appendix A for information on starting a local chapter of the Olderhood International Club in your area.)
Obviously, we now had no shortage of data regarding the interests, needs, and preferences of English-speaking people over the age of fifty. The more we analyzed the trends buried among our most popular posts, the more we began to realize that this third phase of life is not actually about retirement at all.
The third phase of life is about challenging traditional boundaries, conquering old fears, staying positive, and finding a meaningful purpose to carry you through the rest of your life.
At first we didn’t realize that we had actually identified a universal gap in human understanding, but the further we went, the more it became obvious that we were compiling information that everyone seemed to need. As we struggled to maintain control of this ever-expanding project, it eventually became clear that we should write a book, and the idea for The Third Journey was born.
The objective of The Third Journey is to help you develop and maintain a thriving new lifestyle, once the work years are behind you. It is a compilation of the thoughts and life experiences of both the authors, combined with research from a wide variety of accredited sources and insights contributed from many of our blog readers. It explores the origins of retirement, popular misconceptions about growing older, and the traditional impacts of the aging process, and it offers some new ideas for the third phase of your life.
We hope this book becomes the guidebook that you refer to time and again as your retirement life progresses.