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Jan presenting for AARP in Dublin, Ohio (Sept. 2013)



Entries in Retirement Planning (10) Guided Fantasies for the Future, Retirement as wish-fulfillment

Have you ever fantasized about where you would live if you could live anywhere at all? I don’t just mean a particular place (such as a country, or place within a country) but also a type of community. Did you know that in addition to all of the kinds of communities you already know about, there are also racetrack communities, equestrian communities, hangar-homes, a Martha Stewartville community, a Shakespeare-loving community, and many more?

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Can Retirement Make You Sick?

Are you a “Type A” personality?  A perfectionist?  A workaholic? Someone who feels great during the workweek, but suffers from depression, aches, pains, fatigue, and infections; in other words, a person who gets sick when nothing is looming on the horizon?  If so, you may have what is called “leisure sickness,” a term coined by Dutch psychologist Ad Vingerhoets of Tilburg University. In a study of almost 2,000 people, about three percent of high achieving respondents identified themselves as suffering from symptoms of illness when they didn’t have much to do, were on vacation, or were no longer working at high-pressure jobs.
What causes leisure sickness?  Some experts feel that people who are unable to enjoy downtime suffer because they feel out of control, and this stress results in feeling sick. When negatively stressed, the body produces cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.  As a result, people are more susceptible to illness. Those with little to do may become super sensitive to physiological signs, and feel every twinge, while those who are extremely busy ignore signals from their body telling them they are ill. Positive stress (such as a job one is passionate about) may result in greater resistance to disease because adrenaline, which is an immune system booster, is released.

What can you do if you’re retired and feel you suffer from leisure sickness?  One solution, of course, is to return to a job you enjoy, or increase your level of involvement – have more meaningful activity and less leisure.  Exercise is great for reducing negative stress, and developing a better sense of life-work balance can also be helpful. Examining your approach toward life if you’re a perfectionist or workaholic can also be beneficial.

Can a laid-back retirement make you sick? For about three percent of the population, the answer seems to be yes.

Finding More Time and Saving More Money with PERK

We can all use more time and more money, right?  Well, I stumbled across an acronym that can help us do both.  The acronym is PERK, and credit goes to Robert Pagliarini, an author, a certified financial planner, a columnist, and the President of Pacifica Wealth Advisors.

Here’s how it works:  Think about all your activities and all your expenses (current and upcoming).  Write them down.  For each activity and expense, apply “PERK”:

    Postpone:  Want a new car, but still have one that’s reliable?  Postpone your purchase!  Have a deadline for work, but “Words with Friends” is calling?  Wait until you’ve finished your project to play.

    Eliminate:  Need to watch all those reality shows?  Eliminate one and gain some time.  Need a land line when you have a cell phone?  Eliminate that extra cost.

    Reduce:  Do you really need to read every sappy story you get as an e-mail?  Reduce the time you spend on those time-suckers.  Can you stretch out the time between manicures, pedicures, and haircuts by several days?  Doing this will save time and money over the course of a year.

    Keep: Of course, there are some activities and some financial commitments that we would never and should never give up. Paying our rent/mortgage, time with friends, exercising.  These are the Keepers.

These are just a few examples, but you get the idea.  By applying PERK to our lives, we can save time and money.

Late-Blooming Bloomers

Almost everyone loves lists – lists that enumerate the best of (fill in the blank), the top (fill in the blank), the worst of (fill in the blank)…you get the idea. Today’s list helps us reaffirm that “It is never too late to be who you might have been” (George Eliot – and remember, George Eliot is a pen name for a woman – Mary Ann Evans).

Here are 10 examples of late-blooming bloomers and how old they were when they “blossomed”:

  1. Charles Darwin wrote Origin of the Species (50)
  2. Ian Fleming created James Bond (45)
  3. Colonel Sanders began franchising KFC (65)
  4. Grandma Moses began painting (late 70s)
  5. Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first of eight volumes of Little House series (65)
  6. Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s (52)
  7. Marjory Stoneman Douglas started her environmental crusade for the protection of the Everglades (79)
  8. Oscar Swahn, Swedish shooter, won his first Olympic medal (60)
  9. Clara Peller’s first acting role in Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” campaign (81)
  10. Virginia Hamilton Adair published her first book of poetry (83)

Of course, this list contains famous people, but how many others do we know who became entrepreneurs, or went to law school or medical school, or began painting or writing in later life. What makes it possible for people to reach great milestones in their later years?  Research has shown us a some specifics: ability isn’t pre-ordained, it can be expressed over many years through the interaction of our genes and environment; success can be obtained through resilience, passion, and hard work (it’s said it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to become an expert); our brains attain their highest myelin level in our 50s (the myelin sheath is a fatty coating on nerve cells that helps in the transmission of information); and adversity (illness, early loss, etc.) can foster growth (think Chris Gardner in “Pursuit of Happyness”).  There is no expiration on achievement!

Make Your Resolutions Stick

FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE - HAPPY NEW YEAR! How many of us, when that ball is dropping, vow we will eat healthier/exercise more/be nicer/stop smoking/read more…you know the drill.  There are a few ways to improve the chances that we’ll keep our resolutions, at least beyond the first few weeks.  People who actually keep their resolutions tend to share some common strategies.


Make their goal specific.

  • Example: Use the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Sensitive).  “I will walk Mon, Wednesday, and Thursday at 6 p.m. for 30 minutes” is SMART; “I will exercise more” is not.
  • Break down the goal into smaller parts.  Example:  You drink five Cokes a day.  Drink four Cokes/day for a week, then 3 Cokes/day for a week, etc.
  • Tell their friends about their goals.  It helps keep them on track - and honest.
  • Keep a record.  Writing down a goal and seeing progress helps.
  • Acknowledge it’s a temporary setback if they stray from their resolution, and get back on track.  Don’t get pulled into all-or-nothing thinking.

Focus on the benefits of success, not the agony of failure.  Reflect on how much healthier you’ll feel, for example, rather than how you won’t fit into that little black dress unless you lose 10 pounds.
Retired or not, New Year’s Eve or not, incorporating some of these tips can help make your goals more likely to be realized. Here’s to a wonderful New Year - whenever you decide your personal New Year will begin.

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