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"Wet Leaves"

By Prudence A. Cole

“Wet Leaves” is the translation of a word Japanese women have to describe retired, workaholic husbands who stick to them all day…just like wet leaves.

For many of us, we are our jobs, “I’m Manager of Operations” or “I’m Vice-President of Engineering.” When we no longer have the perks, title or position, we often lose our “identity.”

A newly retired woman I know signed up for an art class and found she was very uncomfortable when she was asked to introduce herself. Beyond giving her name, the only thing she could think to say was that she had been a corporate executive with a lot of responsibility. It dawned on her that her classmates did not care, but she still did.

Ironically, successful executives are great planners. But beyond the planning they do for the financial side of retirement, they often have no plans to stay engaged, and, they end up in unsatisfying home lives.

Putting or puttering may not be enough, so you may want to think about using past talents and skills for a more fulfilling retirement. The options are plentiful. It can be the time to start a second career, or volunteer for community services or participate in special programs for executives to assist other business. The point is that it takes planning and effort, not unlike 20+ years of work experience.

There are a number of ways to get help. Career counselors can be helpful in identifying strengths and interests and sorting through options. And there are a number of career books that can provide guidance. Ultimately, you need to think about what you want you want this next phase of your life to be about.

Now, especially as a whole crop of Baby Boomers approach their autumn years, we need to redefine retirement, branching out with new employment opportunities that makes use of all that intellectual capital.

Gardeners know that incorporating yard clippings and autumn leaves adds richness to the soil and nurtures young plants. Shouldn’t we be doing that with our Wet Leaves? Maybe we could call it, “compost retirement.”

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