Exploring Retirement

Welcome to the June 2015 edition of Exploring Retirement. Each month we feature articles on well-being in retirement. Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology movement, in his book "Flourish", set out what he considers the necessary "elements" for a flourishing life. He suggests the acronym PERMA, which stands for -

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement
  • We have begun considering each element in turn, in the context of retirement. This month we are looking at achievement. Continuing to make progress towards our goals is an important part of living a life that is personally meaningful. We will also look at the evidence that feeling a sense of achievement as we grow older plays an important role in ensuring a long and healthy life.

    Regular readers will know that we like to add new content to the magazine. This month we are pleased to include another new feature - Cinema. Here, readers who are avid cinema goers, review a recent release.

    New writers are welcome, so if you are interested, please contact editor@exploringretirement.co.uk. For ideas to write about, have a glance at the July 2014 issue of Exploring Retirement, available still by clicking on "Past Issues" in the navigation bar on the left of this page. These are only suggestions, do contact us if you have a different topic you feel you would like to share your thoughts on..

    Writing team

    We have three regular contributors on our writing team. Here they are with a brief note explaining their principal areas of interest:

    John Copelton, EditorDr John Copelton - well-being in retirementMichael McSorley, contributorMichael McSorley - lively comment on sport and cultureJeannette Lewis, contributorJeannette Lewis - inspiring ideas on retirement living

    Achievement in retirement

    The last strand of Seligman's "PERMA" is achievement or accomplishment. It is important at every stage of life to have goals that we can progress towards. This is especially true in retirement when we have the freedom to pursue our own goals and not someone else's.

    A 2007 study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, considered the important of "grit" when predicting success. Grit in this context is a term that combines perseverance and passion. The researchers found that grit predicted success in achieving goals over and above both IQ and conscientiousness. Another study published in 2007 (Journal of Personality Processes and Individual Differences), found "grit" to increase with age. Whether this is because we acquire more "grit" as we get older or that older cohorts have more grit to begin with, the research could not say. What is important from the perspective of older people, is that persistence can bring results, at any age.

    Professor Kennon Sheldon at the University of Missouri, has shown that we are most likely to make a sustained effort to achieve our goals if they are concordant with both our interests and our values. Knowing this provides us with an important starting point in determining where to put our energies in retirement. Looking back over our lives to clarify what truly are our interests and our values can help us to consider what might be our future goals.

    Think about the things that stimulated your interest at different stages over your lifetime. Write them down and continue to add ideas as they occur to you. This is not something to do in a hurry. Be prepared to think back to things that you enjoyed as a child, as an adolescent and as a young adult.

    Here are some headings to help you structure your thinking about what you want to achieve in "retirement".

    Which of these you respond to will depend on your interests and your values. You will feel more strongly about some and less so about others. Feel free to add your own ideas.

    Achievement and life expectancy

    The Terman Study in America tracked the lives of 1500 people from 1921 until the present day. The researchers studied the lives of the participants in great detail. Here is what they found -

    "The people who lived the longest generally were those who had the most interesting and productive lives. We compared those who were highly productive in later life with those who were taking it easy. The findings were dramatic! The continually productive men and women lived much longer than their laid-back comrades. It was not the happiest or the most relaxed participants who lived the longest. It was those who were most engaged in pursuing their goals".

    Featured Activity: Non-Executive Director Exchange

    The Non-Executives Director Exchange is a platform that helps companies find a highly skilled individual to serve as a non-executive director. There is no charge for this service.

    UK Companies are increasingly employing non-executive directors to provide experienced independent advice and guidance to help them succeed. Many of the most suitable candidates are older people, recently retired and looking for a new challenge.

    Some companies employ non-executive directors because they have specific managerial expertise - sales, marketing, personnel, I.T., finance, legal - or because they have particular contacts which would be of value to the employing company, for example in government, banking, finance, defence, etc.

    Advantages for the retired professional

    The advantages for the retired professional of working as a non executive director can be numerous. As well as a new source of income, non-executive directorships can offer a valuable sense of job satisfaction to the retired person's life, without having to work full time. The individual's experience and knowledge will be appreciated by the company as a valuable asset, their views listened to and they will feel they are making an exciting contribution to the company's success.

    There is no "right" time to become a non executive director and no "right" sort of candidate. Professionally qualified individuals - including chartered surveyors, accountants, lawyers, management consultants, etc are required by companies as non executive directors - as are individuals with business experience in particular niche industries or those with specific managerial expertise, for example property specialists, people with experience in credit management, sales, marketing, finance, personnel, legal, etc. Others may be able to use their contacts to the benefit of their host company, for example politicians, bankers, civil servants, diplomats and local authority officials.

    Non-Executive Directors could do a few hours a month or many hours a week depending on the role. For some it is an opportunity to give back, for others an opportunity to earn additional income, for others an opportunity to use their skills in a new sector. For more information click here

    Retirement: My Way

    Nanette and Jim McCoy enjoyed social dancing. To find out how this led them to start a charity dance that raised tens of thousands of pounds for good causes, click here.

    To send us your story for publication, contact editor@exploringretirement.co.uk.


    As Spring gathers strength, the garden is beginning to bloom again. Many thanks to Henrietta Price for this colourful photo.

    Michael McSorley

    Michael and his wife have recently visited Moscow and St Petersburg. To read about their experiences, click here

    Jeanette Lewis

    This month Jeanette looks at some inspirational "older achievers". To read Jeanette's article, click here.


    Reflections showcases short pieces of poetry or prose that reflect on our life experience. This month features a poem by my late friend and colleague, Phil Clarke. I'm grateful to Phil's wife, Noelle for allowing me to publish Phil's poetry and to Henrietta Price for the marvellous photo of Scrabo Tower that I have selected to accompany the poem. To read "Look Up", click here.


    Our cinema goers have been to see "A Little Chaos", starring Kate Winslett and Alan Rickman. To read their review, click here