Retirement Redesigned

Our online course is live! See the menu for details.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

HomeProductivityHabitsQuestioning The 7 Habits in Retirement

Questioning The 7 Habits in Retirement

A note from Johann

All 7 of the Habits of Highly Effective People are of value and contain many important life lessons. Today I’d like to focus on two that I think will resonate with people in their time of retirement.

The first is the 7th Habit, “Sharpen your Saw”. This refers to the need for you to reinvent yourself and stay focussed on how you can stage renewal for your next life. Retirees are often inclined to think life and its challenges are more or less over. They don’t believe in the need to set themselves up and to spend energy for a new motivation. The elements to focus on in Covey’s program are physical, social, mental and spiritual. These are the staging points for considerations of renewal.

Th second one I’d like to focus on is the 1st Habit, “Be Proactive”. People in retirement sometimes see themselves as victims of the retirement system and that they cannot do much to influence their lives. Covey’s advice is that thinking ahead and taking charge is as important in retirement as it is in your life before you give up full-time work. The proactive mindset is not waiting for things to happen to you, but rather to take the initiative to make things happen yourself.

At Reset, we believe that developing a strongly proactive approach to your situation, and then looking for the opportunities to find fresh energy and motivation, will help you build a meaningful retirement.

To register for our next webinar – Appreciating the gifts of nature in later life – click here

Weekly spotlight

We’re exploring the 7 Habits this week and asking if they’re still applicable later in life. It’s been more than 32 years since Stephen Covey wrote the best-selling self help book that gave us phrases like ‘start with the end in mind’. We’re asking questions to find out if each of the 7 habits can be of use to us as we prepare for retirement and beyond. Can we be highly effective in retirement too?

Our top 3 article picks this week:

The 7 Habits, Be Proactive not Reactive

Play the ball before it plays you.

Image of a baseball and bat

Our take:
We’re exploring the 7 Habits this week and asking if they’re still applicable later in life. In this piece, Brett and Kate McKay tackle the first habit, namely, being proactive. Here’s a quote from this piece that stands out most for us.
“Even when circumstances limit choices, a proactive person will find where he can still exercise his agency.”
This resonates with us as an approach to retirement. If we wait for circumstances to dictate the terms of our lives, we’re likely to come up empty handed. But if we anticipate and act we can exercise our values and have an effect of the way things turn out. We think this can be true at any stage of life and not just during our working lives. What do you think a proactive approach to retirement looks like?

Article excerpt:
When a kid is first learning to field a ground ball, his natural inclination is to stand still until the ball rolls to him. But baseballs do funny things once they hit grass and dirt. They change direction; they slow down. What they don’t do is go right into your glove. If a player passively waits for the ball to come to him, nine times out of ten, he’s going to come up empty-handed.

“Play the ball before it plays you” is a cue to players to attack the ball and take the initiative on the grounder. It’s a call to be proactive and not reactive with your fielding. Good fielders make plays happen; bad fielders just wait and let the ball determine the play.

Following “play the ball before it plays you” made me a better fielder. Whenever I attacked a grounder, things usually turned out better compared to when I just waited for the ball to roll to my feet.

It wasn’t until I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey when I was a freshman in high school that I realized that “play the ball before it plays you” also serves as an excellent maxim for life.
Click here to read the whole article on

How To Shift from a Scarcity to an Abundance Mindset

Creating an abundance mentality allows you to live an unlimited, full, and satisfying life.

Image of a hand feeling through a corn field

Our take:
Stephen Covey’s 4th Habit encourages us to think win/win. He encourages us to think about life with an abundance mindset. This is the idea that there is enough for everyone’s needs and that we will be more likely to find solutions if we work together in this mindset than in competition with one another. This might make sense to some in business or in terms of global thinking but how might this idea apply to us in retirement? Well, perhaps we can look at alternative ways to leverage resources, like house swapping to afford travel, or mentoring someone in need of guidance while giving ourselves a deeper sense of purpose.

Article excerpt:
“One of my favorite quotes is, “the mind is everything, what you think, you become”. It is so true. In one of my previous blogs, I discussed how mindset is holding many people back from leaving the Corporate world. Mindset is a critical component of success in business, sports and life in general. There is also quantitative research to back this up. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck conducted research into mindsets among young students and essentially found that children who have a “growth mindset” — that intelligence can be developed–are better able to overcome academic stumbling blocks than those who have a “fixed mindset”–that intelligence is predetermined. Another study on middle-aged adults, done by researchers at Yale and Miami, showed that those with more positive beliefs around aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging. So basically, your mindset can prolong your life!

Another way of looking at this phenomenon is examining it in terms of a scarcity mentality vs. an abundance mentality. These terms were originally coined by Stephen Covey in his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Scarcity mentality refers to people seeing life as one finite pie, so that if one person takes a big piece, that leaves less for everyone else. Most people, particularly in the Corporate world, have been conditioned to have a scarcity mentality. It’s no wonder, when promotions and raises are “scarce”, resources are limited, managers hoard information, micromanagement abounds, and generally short-term thinking is the norm. A scarcity mentality is what keeps many of us from achieving our goals. Abundance refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.”
Click here to read the article on

Habit 7 of Steven Covey: Sharpen the Saw

By sharpening the saw, you spend some time discovering the tools and tricks required to solve a problem.

Image of someone manually sharpening a knife

Our take:
The 7th Habit, Sharpen The Saw, encourages us to keep ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally and socially ‘sharp’. We think this is important in all phases of life, retirement included. During this phase of life we have more discretionary time available to spend in productive and even indulgent ways. Imagine joining an interesting social group or going to a retreat which caters to your unique interests.

Article excerpt:
Habit 7 of highly effective people is sharpening the saw. The philosophy behind this habit is to take some time out and invest it in ourselves. This is one of the most necessary investments that we have to make ourselves because nobody else is going to do it for us.

In this habit, Covey emphasizes cultivating the key assets that we have in ourselves. According to him, we should renew the four core dimensions (physical, spiritual, mental, and social) of our lives. By doing this, it becomes easy for you to increase your growth, handle difficult challenges, and entirely change the life you used to live before.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax
Click here to read the full article on

Download our app:

Connect with other members of our community

An image of an elderly woman portraying community entertainment from the MyReset App

Click here to find out more about My Reset app
Download it here for Apple and here for Google Play

Other highlights for the week:

Most Popular Daily Thought

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. – Audrey Hepburn

One way in which we can practice Stephen Covey’s 4th Habit is by volunteering in some way. By giving back in any way we also benefit ourselves because of all the positive feelings associated with helping others. This is known as the Helper’s High. Sounds like a Win/Win situation to us. How does volunteering make you feel?

Click here to follow our Instagram page

Quote by Aubrey Hepburn – As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

Weekly Question

Last week’s question:

Do you think we need to concern ourselves with being ‘highly effective’ in retirement?


• No, just enjoy it! Spent my life at work being ‘on my game’. Time to relax now.
• I think more people should work at being highly retired.
• Absolutely! I still work part time, but only 5 months of the year. It keeps my brain and body active.
• Well maybe, if that means highly effective in self care.
• Effective in our own way.
• To your own self…
• Only if it is what you want to do.
• If only I could win the lottery and solve the housing crisis. That’s what I’d do if I won a few million.

This week’s poll question:

Which of nature’s gifts do you most benefit from at this stage of life?
Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group


We rely on your support to help our community grow and thrive. If you enjoyed our newsletter please consider sharing it friends and subscribing.

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.