Retirement Redesigned

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

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Inspirational Elders

This post is a duplication of our newsletter, The Weekly Reset, where we review a key theme each week. In the spotlight this week: Inspirational elders. What have you done for yourself to change your life around after retirement?

A note from Johann

Managing a big life affirming change in your elderhood

Let deferred passions be your guide

The traditional image of retirement used to be one of settling somewhere comfortable and taking life easy. For some, this is still the ideal. For others, retirement, with its landscape of unstructured time and available resources, it presents an opportunity to explore and even to fashion a whole new way of living.

We had an interesting discussion during this last week with Bruce and Anne Eccles, a South African couple that moved to France about eight years ago. After successful careers in couture for Anne, and executive search for Bruce, they started a guest house in a beautiful part of France. Although they have some background in French, which has helped them a great deal, they had never been in the hospitality industry before and effectively broke new ground in a later stage of their lives. They both acknowledge that the move was not without its challenges and that it is still very hard work, yet they are completely satisfied that it is a rewarding experience and one they wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

Not all later life changes are as dramatic, but there are many older people that have reinvented themselves and have benefitted from such a change. One example that is often quoted in this context is that of Colonel Sanders, who started his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken business when he was in his retirement. Grandma Moses, the acclaimed American folk artist, also started her career as a notable painter at a late stage of life.

Many retirees that we have had discussions with have expressed a desire to ‘break out’ and do something different. It is maybe to start a new career, or completely change the way you look, or perhaps build a new business. Often the challenge is just too daunting and the risk too scary.

We encourage retirees to look to deferred passions as a source for new projects and renewed purpose. You never know where it might lead you.


Our top pick this week:

Our take: John Muir is best known for is devotion to nature, establishing Yosemite National Park and founding the Sierra Club. He published a memoir at at age 74. During his life he travelled to many parts of the world to see natural wonders, including a secret trip to Africa at age 75 which he didn’t tell his family for fear they would stop him!

Steampunk, Late Blooming, and The Life of Naturalist John Muir

Image as per original article

“Blindsided by Destiny
One evening, John was working on a belt with a long file. Somehow, it slipped and rebounded across his eye. “My right eye is gone. Closed forever on all God’s beauty!”

A specialist was called. John’s cornea was badly damaged. But if he rested, he might see again.

John locked himself in a darkened room and dreamed of woods and forests. He vowed if his sight returned, he would “be true to myself” and spend his life exploring and studying plants.

“This affliction has driven me to the sweet fields. God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons.”

Six weeks later, the doctor removed his bandages. He could see! As soon as his vision stabilized, he took to the woods.

In September 1867, John walked 1000 miles from Indiana to Florida, sailed to Cuba and Panama, then crossed the Isthmus on a pilgrimage to California and the world’s oldest and largest trees, the Sequoias.

Click here to read the whole article on

Our Spotlight video:

Inspirational Elders

We take inspiration from people who haven’t let ageing define their mindset but rather allow their interests to guide them to meaningful pursuits. With a spirit of reinvention and we can accomplish great things, like the people we’ll be featuring in our posts this week. Follow along for uplifting examples of inspirational elders.

Click play to watch our spotlight video of the week

Weekly spotlight

Other highlights for the week:

Our take: Johanna Quaas received an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s oldest gymnast at the age of 86. She started with gymnastics in her youth but only returned to competitive gymnastics again at age fifty-six after raising her family. At age 95, she could still stand on her head! Her example can inspire anyone who has deferred dreams they’d still like to follow.

Strength To Hold On. Courage To Let Go.

Image as it appears in original article

“Born in Hohenmölsen, Quaas started gymnastics at an early age, and appeared in her first competition at age nine. She switched to handball after World War II, when then East Germany discouraged individual sports and promoted team sports instead.

After getting married and raising three children, Quaas began competing again at age fifty-six – with two friends and fellow gymnasts, one five years older than her and the other four years younger.

In 2012, she received an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records as the “oldest gymnast in the world”.

Usually, gymnasts do not stay in the sport for decades as tendons and ligaments stiffen with age, and the body’s ability to absorb force against the joints diminishes – an invitation for injury. Quaas, however, reveals she uses gymnastics as a preventive tool – to avoid being susceptible to falls. The sporty granny (and a great-grandmother as well) trains for an hour every day, and counts hiking, swimming and dancing as her other pursuits. She sleeps for six hours a day, eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, and loves whipping up dishes of pork and sauerkraut.

A green, crushed velvet leotard, is her signature outfit. When Quaas performs on the Parallel bars, not many people even half her age have the dexterity, strength and flexibility to perform such tricks balancing on one’s arms. Her upper body strength might be unmatched for many people quarter of her age. “My face is old, but my heart is young“, is her message for older people as she travels around the world for events.”

Click here to read the article on the Curious Cat blog

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Elderly people having fun representing that they have planned for more than just money in their retirement

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Wildcard Pick for the Week

Our take: Frank McCourt won a Pulitzer Prize for Angles’s Ashes, a book he only started writing in his 60s. He drew his inspiration from his own stories and childhood experiences and only received recognition for his writing later in life.
Frank McCourt: How a High School Teacher from Brooklyn Published “Angela’s Ashes” at Age 66
Click here to read full article by Later Bloomer

Most Popular Quote of the Week

Your mind is a treasure house that you should stock well and it’s the one part of you the world can’t interfere with.
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Quote by Frank McCourt – Your mind is a treasure house that you should stock well and it’s the one part of you the world can’t interfere with.

Weekly Question

This week’s question:
Which aspect of keeping organised to you struggle with most?
Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group

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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.