Session 22 – Jill Steinberg

Recap and Highlights

  • Her website focuses on what it takes to have a successful retirement.
  • It includes a summary of scholarly research and the research she conducted with over 90 retirees.
  • Her research subjects are people who live in the Bay Area, have sufficient financial resources and are highly educated.
  • Another thing they have in common is that they implement something to continue pursuing or doing after they retire.
  • Two examples: 1) Cindy who is in her 70s started planning 10 years in advance. This included planning for how to reduce her workload and developing activities that would provide a schedule (structure); 2) Arthur left Google at 47. He also spent a lot of time planning. He observed that many people didn’t give much thought to it and after they retired, they were the same person.
  • Retirement is different for men and women. Retirement doesn’t change the responsibilities of family life for women. Work had provided emotional support and limited the amount of time to handle family responsibilities. Women are not as good as saying no and taking care of themselves.
  • Men have difficulty adjusting because relationships, confidence and identity are tied up in work.
  • Jill was surprised by how much couples are stressed by the transition into retirement. Too much togetherness too soon, men don’t have the social network so women have to help them with that. Many women say that they feel cramped.
  • If a couple can make it through the adjustment, then being married with shared activities correlates with happiness.
  • High proportion of single people living in retirement.
  • People are less likely to re-couple. They prefer to have someone to go out with vs. someone to come home with.
  • For many people being single is a choice and they can be as happy as couples.
  • The biggest factor that determines a successful retirement is whether the person has a sense of control over the circumstances of their retirement.
  • On the flip side, the worst predictor for success is being forced to retire.
  • Other success factors include having a social network including through the internet, planning, being goal directed, implementing projects and activities before retirement and of course having sufficient financial resources.
  • The people that Jill highlights as successful retirement role models are good at identifying what resources they need and implementing things to do before they retire in order to smooth the transition.
  • Retirement is different for men and women. Women find that their role as wife and family caregiver can expand leaving less time to focus on themselves. Women have a hard time saying no. Men face more challenges because they have fewer social connections and have their identities tied up with work.
  • Jill was surprised by the level of stress that couples experience in retirement. Research shows that the early period of the transition is difficult. Couples are challenged by being together more than when they worked.
  • High number of retired single people. Single people are less likely to re-couple in retirement. Remaining single is a choice. They’d rather have someone to go out with than come home with. Many single people report being just as happy as couples.
  • Biggest factor leading to a successful retirement is having control over the decision of when and how to retire. Others include being goal directed, doing the planning, having social networks, being connected to the internet, and implementing steps to make the transition smooth. Having sufficient financial resources is also important.
  • Having self-awareness of what they need to work on in order to prepare for retirement. Ask retired people what works and what doesn’t.
  • From her research re: finances Jill found that those who have pensions felt more secure and optimistic about retirement. Those who didn’t do a good job of financial planning finding themselves with limited options to enjoy life.
  • When it comes to relocating couples need to communicate what they want. A good idea is to rent before buying.
  • The one new thing that she feels is important from her research is to implement doing something before retiring. It provides a bridge to retirement. Talking through and planning helps in so many ways. For example, talking about and planning for 20 years of retirement and for one being single.
  • Jan learned through her research that older people are happy and have a positive attitude on life. With age we become emotionally more stable and have more experience to use. Jan wants people to know about this positive side of aging.
  • On her website you’ll find individuals stories about retirement and her summary of scholarly writing on retirement. People can submit their stories to share with family and friends. People can send questions to Jill or to people who have submitted their story. Her website is a living document which she keeps current.
  • Talk to others. We are each other’s best resources.

Links and References