Ep #118: Discussing “What Will I Do All Day?” With Author Patrice Jenkins, PH.D.

Benjamin Haas |

Stepping into retirement comes with a host of challenges! Beyond all the financial STUFF that needs to be well-planned out, there’s the daunting task of figuring out how to spend your time, find purpose, engage others, and continue to challenge oneself. All that can be downright scary! Listen as Ben interviews author Patrice Jenkins on how her books and workshops help others gain the wisdom to get over retirement and on with living!


0:31 Guest Introduction and Initial Story
2:01 The Journey to Writing a Retirement Book
3:34 Impact and Structure of the Book
5:55 Challenges and Common Themes in Retirement
9:43 Workshops and Online Courses
15:11 The Second Book: It's Still Good
19:35 Final Thoughts and Encouragement

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Full Transcript

00:00:04 Benjamin Haas:  

Hi everyone and welcome to A/B Conversations where we will help you CFP your way out of it. A podcast where you get into the minds of a couple of Certified Financial Planners on how we think and feel about everyday financial planning questions and what should really matter most to you. A healthier financial life starts...now! Hi, Patrice. Welcome! I want to first thank you so much for being generous with your time today to join me on the podcast A/B Conversation. So, first of all, thank you. Thank you so much for doing this. 


00:00:44 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

You're welcome. It's my pleasure to be here. I'm not the B part, or the A part I guess here, but... 


00:00:50 Benjamin Haas:  

No, but when there are these opportunities to share a story, or in this case share an experience that I had and how I met you and what you have done and the work that you do and how that matches so well with the work that we're trying to do. It just seemed like a great opportunity. So again, thank you for being generous with your time. 


00:01:08 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

You're welcome. 


00:01:09 Benjamin Haas:  

Why don't I kick it off by sharing that story? We connected a couple of years ago. It can't be any more random than me going to Amazon to try to find a book for my father who was retiring. An English teacher who I knew would read it and was struggling with that transition a little bit in thought, and I guess I just took the impetus to reach out to you afterwards because I went through the book and I thought, this is an amazing tool for what I'm trying to do with my practice and my clients who come to me with a lot of questions about retirement that usually aren't this really big second half of the conversation, not the financial side of it, but the social side of it. The emotional side of it. So, you were so generous to connect with me then. I'd love for maybe you to start it off by telling us just a little bit about you, the work that you've done, are doing and then we'll go from there. 


00:02:00 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Okay! I do enjoy hearing how people find me because I don't do all the things you're supposed to do to get people to find you and it almost always is a search on Amazon that, you know, they buy five retirement books. And for some reason, probably because mine's so small they say it's the only one I finished. I have to say that book is small, but it has surprised me the impact that it has had in people's lives and it's really a nice feeling. But I was drawn to this work when I was like 47 years old and working in a career counseling office out of college and my administrative assistant was of the right age to retire. She had a mother living with her that really needed help. She had a 45-minute commute down a mountain in the winter months. There were so many reasons why it seemed like she should take that leap and yet she just kept clinging on to work. So, I started writing exercises for her. My background was in counseling and that would help her tap into where was this resistance coming from? Because it's not so much I cared she retired, I cared that she got unstuck and that could move on if that's what she chooses to do to the next stage of life and make the most of that. So, it started with these exercises that what did a 47-year-old know about retirement? But I was really fascinated to help people to make the most of that next stage and not keep going back into work because that's the only thing they like know to do. I started there and from there I started writing a book and interviewing people and gathering data on that. 


00:03:34 Benjamin Haas: 

I love to describe your book, which we are happy to now, I'll share, have a part of our process. We love to share this book. You've been kind enough to mail me them in bunches for clients. I call it more like a workbook. You mentioned that it's kind of short and small. It's not your typical book. But you also mentioned the word exercises. I love that there are 40 chapters, but 132 pages. I think the exercises are a really important part of describing why this tool is as good as it is. How did you come up with the idea to structure it that way? And what's the feedback you've gotten on that? 


00:04:09 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

It had a lot to do with the woman that was mentoring me through the process, Barbara Sher and her books, bestselling author, her books are all about exercises. When people have to actually personally apply what they're reading, sometimes they'll read through the whole book and then they'll go back and do exercises, not necessarily do them along the way. But when you start to practice, put down on paper, what you're thinking, there's just so much more of a clarity and a commitment that are revealed through that. So, it's not a passive process and neither is moving through these decisions and the transitions of retirement. I do hear from people that form little groups and do the exercises together and fun things like that. But I think that is why it's effective, even though it's really just a sweet little book. 


00:04:59 Benjamin Haas:  

And there's a lot of storytelling that goes on in there. Do you have maybe a favorite story or something that you've gotten feedback on over the years that kind of just makes you really believe that this was the right way to go about it. 


00:05:11 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Well, I do always ask people, what resonates with you? And I get different answers. So, one thing, the two-year interval, is something that resonates. When we leave work or work starts to look different for us, we tend to think we have to have the next 25 years figured out. Just like we've had the past 25 or 35 and made decisions that had to be good for that long. But going forward, we can experiment, we can play, we can try things out, we can quit. And when you think of it in just two years, that's the real freedom that comes for people to, well, what do I want to do for the next two years? So that's one in particular that people speak about. 


00:05:55 Benjamin Haas:  

I know you've done workshops; you've had countless conversations over the years with many retirees. I'm curious, moving out of the financial side and as I try to focus more on the emotional side and behavioral side with clients, what would you say in your experience is kind of the hardest part of retiring? Is there a very common theme that you see? 


00:06:17 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

So yes, it would be the title of my book. What Will I do all Day? Which is when I was trying to come up with a title that I thought back to the interviews and that was what I heard so much because I was caring about the people, my audiences, those who are afraid to step over that line, not the people who have been waiting for this and want every day to be like Saturday and Sunday. 


00:06:39 Benjamin Haas: 



00:06:40 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

So, breaking that down to what will I do all day, realizing that what level of work identity is, do they relate to? And if they still need that work identity, let's bring that into this piece. My doctoral research is in thriving at work. I look at what factors contribute to thriving at work and how can we recreate those in retirement? And often that does include some type of work paid or not paid, but something that continues to present challenge and require skill and development. We don't want to make retirement too easy. Because that's not how people were thriving at work and it's not how they're going to thrive in retirement either. 


00:07:23 Benjamin Haas:  

Yeah, that's so wonderful to me because we often try to figure that out with people. We're trained on the financial side to try to fix things and have these conversations around, well, what are your goals? And I think many times we too meet people that are really just retiring away from work, not retiring to something. That really presents the challenge even in planning to go, well, then what is this all going to mean for you? So, I wonder, are there favorite questions that you ask to try to get a sense of what's going to give people purpose? 


00:07:57 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

I often start with what you just said and that is what are you going to? It's so important that you know what you're getting up out of bed for something that you want to get out for on that first Monday morning or whenever sort of that time comes. And, yeah, so know what you're getting up for. That's important. Some of the things that I think are really important is for people to identify roles they have in their life because work is really a role that we play and it comes with a lot of satisfaction. It comes with social, when we ask people what they do, it feels good to say what we do. It puts us on a certain status level but it really is a role that we play. When we think about the other roles we have, whether it's parent or in the community or in our faith community, whatever it might be, those are also roles and they bring satisfaction. So, what roles do we have beside work? How can we expand on some of those roles, invest more in them? And maybe there are new roles that we want to take on. I think it's important to note that, when we're at what I call our final performance review, at someone's funeral, what do people talk about? They usually talk about the time you visited them when they were sick or the amazing pies that you make, people don't talk about work that much. So, it's more of these other roles. We just need to bring significance and value to them, something that maybe we haven't done enough of or haven't had time to do enough of up until now. 


00:09:33 Benjamin Haas:  

Well, I think that's why I love your book so much because it does challenge those reading it to think that way. Moving beyond the individual exercises at the end of every chapter. I know you've done a lot of workshops too, and I believe you still have some online course that would allow someone to engage further than the book. Would you mind talking about that a little bit? 


00:09:53 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Yeah. The course is on udemy.com. U D E M Y. And it's called, A Gudie to Take the Weirdness Out of Retirement. The reason I developed it is most of my speaking is like one hour. It's a social part, psychological part of a whole day of retirement planning and at the end of an hour. I felt so much I didn't get a chance to talk about so I wanted to give people more. Also, especially in the corporate world, it is not comfortable or safe. Many people tell me to talk about retirement, that if you show your cards, you could be out the door. You could be skipped over for promotion or a good, exciting project to work on. So, people hold that really close to themselves. The problem is it's not something that you should walk through as you approach retirement and consider those that transition, you shouldn't walk through that alone. So, an online course gives you a guide that you can process those things with someone without having to necessarily, tell your story, ask questions or reveal your cards at work. And so that is 30 little mini videos and 10 exercises and the production is rather amateur. I converted, after my son was off to college, I converted his bedroom to a recording studio but the material is really good. I'm really proud of the material, the content.  


00:11:26 Benjamin Haas:  

That's it, get a lot out of it and that's great. I hope people check that out if they are looking to engage in that way. I know that when we were conversing back and forth a little bit a few weeks ago, this book you wrote, I believe you said 2010. But you also said it seems to be getting more engagement. You're selling more of this book now than you ever have. 


00:11:44 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  



00:11:45 Benjamin Haas:  

Why do you believe that is? 


00:11:46 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Well, probably because at the beginning and still I don't like promote it. But the reason it is because people like you start buying 40 copies at a time to give away and they tell friends about it and that is the best way really for something to grow in my opinion is for other people to experience it and then want to share that with others. Also, I believe the content is kind of timeless because a lot of the exercises tap into things that are timeless. For example, I encourage people to identify their life essentials. So, these are the values that you hold, whether you're working or not, no matter what age you are, that you don't want to live without. You design your life around that and when you get really clear what those are in retirement, again, you can invest more time in maybe a role in some of these life essentials that you didn't have enough time for, like family or community or areas like that. 


00:12:48 Benjamin Haas:  

Well, I would hope that we as a society, as connectedness as communities, we're doing a better job creating those safe spaces to talk about things that are setting us back. I think I found you at that time around, you know, COVID shutdowns and there are a lot of anxiety around the future and a lot of now what has changed for what we see in certain clients of now technology is a huge part of, you know, seemingly all work and maybe someone wasn't ready to transition into that. So, I hope the book offer, you know, we can put this out there today in this podcast land that this book offers a great exercise and a safe space to start to think and talk about that if you don't have other outlets to do that. 


00:13:32 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Right. It also normalizes feelings anxious or resistance or why you might approach the idea of retirement and then retreat. Like, I'm okay today. I'm going to do this, and then all of a sudden, you're waking up in a cold sweat. So, it normalizes those feelings and I think that really helps people because otherwise they kind of feel these alone. If they look at retirement cards, if they look at some other people, it seems like everyone else has this all figured out and, the fact is they don't. This is a major life transition and as with any transitions, there's a process, has its highs and lows and understanding what to expect in that transition is helpful too. And preparing for it, and getting through it, then coming out the other side of it really thriving and on the other side of it. 


00:14:23 Benjamin Haas:  

Yeah, and I commend you for the relatability that the book has then, I believe even not as somebody that's looking to retire anytime soon. I'm not in that phase of life in each one of those stories, I can relate to somebody that may have shared a similar experience, or I could see myself needing to be challenged in the way that you're expressing in tha,t in a chapter here or a chapter there, so it is a simple read, it really is a quick read, but I really like that about the book, Patrice. 


00:14:54 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Thank you. I don't really know vocabulary past eighth grade, so that's about the rest. That's why it's so simple. 


00:15:03 Benjamin Haas:  

Yeah, I just I want to make sure the listening audience knows it's just such a relatable experience and I think to your point it creates a safe space for people to talk about it. This isn't the only book you've written, though, maybe I should give you the opportunity to talk about the new book, which I think is an equally important part of what we're looking to do with clients beyond just trying to fix the anxieties or fix the financial things that need to happen as they transition into retirement. 


00:15:30 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Right. Well, it's interesting. So, my second book is, It's Still Good. Can I hold up a book? Does that make it? 


00:15:35 Benjamin Haas:  

You sure can. You know what? We'll do it together. 


00:15:39 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Okay and this is the other little one. They're both the same size. It's my signature size. What Will I do All Day? Okay. But It's Still Good, Dreams Don't Have Expiration Dates. This is the book I thought I was going to write all along and I started out by saying, 18 years ago I said if I ever write a book the title is going to be, It's Never too Late if you Start Today, because even though I wrote the retirement book first, it really is the same message. Like, let's get over that line. What can get you there and onto that next stage. So, It's Still Good, is what I care about with that is rescuing people from regret of something they didn't do. And the reason it fits in so well with retirement, I think with your fixed, fine, and flourish, it fits into that flourish really nice because many of the things that we might want to do when we have to bring home an income or pay the mortgage or all these other things, it's much harder to be able to do. Maybe you want to open a flower shop, but you know what? I don't know that it's going to make pay the same as my job in finance kind of thing. So, we can revisit some of those ideas or come up with new ones in this next stage of life and embrace that and try it and what I talk about in there is one how to identify those things, how to create a good start that is sticky, so you'll stay with it. Then, how even to define your own success around it, that it's not necessarily defined by the same factors as when you were throughout your years in the workforce. You define your own success at this stage of life and it was a really fun book to write. And I still like read it and it just makes me happy that I wrote it. 


00:17:32 Benjamin Haas:  

I had an opportunity to read through that one too. I think the way that you challenge people is really important too. I actually, I know that this is a story from the first book but I want to kind of pair our two worlds together here. You tell the story; I'm not going to remember what name you used of somebody that wanted to learn a new language. That's something that was going to excite her at that time, but in conversations with you, you were able to challenge her to take that to another level. Could that be done instead of self-study engagement at a community college that blossomed into, I'm going to take a two-week vacation and live in a Spanish speaking country. I think when we can get people to move beyond the financial concerns. We can really start to identify, well, what's going to be most fulfilling to them and help encourage them to test those waters and what I hope will be an exciting and fulfilling way. 


00:18:24 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Right, and with that language example, what I'm also trying to do with people's ideas is how to bring back in the what I call built in benefits of work. So, there's structure and recognition and challenge. We often, when we're thinking of something, we don't add all those factors when we're just doing it for ourselves. But how can we, bringing in a community, some accountability, we start to get back those benefits of work. Also, that idea of selling up with, when I was in high school, I worked for McDonald's and McDonald's used to be, I was an all-American window girl at McDonald's. Badge, the whole bit. They used to really train people. I can't say, shouldn't say used to. When I was there, they trained people really well and we always, if they ordered a hamburger, you say, would you like that with cheese? When they'd order a drink, would you like to make that large? We were always looking for recent ways to sell up their order and I kind of think of it the same way. When someone tells me something they'd like to do, I look for ways I can sell up that so that they get more out of it. 


00:19:32 Benjamin Haas:  

I love it. I love that. So, in maybe final minutes here, what else would you want to share with my listening audience that comes to this podcast? I believe for understanding that there's a financial component to what we do, but what would you want to share? I love the way that you called it the social portfolio in your first book. You know, it's not just the financial, it's the social. What would you want to share with them as either best next steps or ways that they can get unstuck. 


00:20:02 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

Well, if they get to the level where they say they're fine and let's say fine is really financial fine, then being willing to honestly look at themselves and say, am I okay psychologically, socially with this next step. Recognizing that there is unknown, no matter what, there's going to be some trepidation around that, but not ignoring it, starting to take steps, starting to with that social portfolio. You know, invest in friendships outside of work, start to add new roles, look at what kind of hobbies you can expand on and my book makes a point. Hobbies aren't a waste, a way just to use time. Hobbies are a way to get back some of those great benefits and satisfaction that come from work and then to really come to the point that fine is not just okay, we really do want to flourish in this. So, approaching that with I like to say I'm being brave with my life. So how can we be brave with our lives? What can we say yes to? What can we try out and to help me and others with that, I claim courage as a core value. We think of core values as family and work and faith and all kinds of things. But usually, courage isn't necessarily on that top five, but when it is, then I make decisions through that lens of, there should be evidence of this value in my life. So, I am choosing this because courage is a core value and that helps move that needle a little bit more and you start to do a lot more exciting things. 


00:21:38 Benjamin Haas:  

So, if I heard you correctly, the audience here is not just those that have yet to retire. It really could be anybody at any phase of life or in retirement for many years that still need to be challenged to consider what flourish means to them. 


00:21:55 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

I would hope so. You know, I had this idea in the first book I read about holding out and hiding out. So, holding out is when there's a reason, a pension, a long-term benefit that is worth sticking around for. Hiding out is when you just keep going back into work because you don't know what else to do and then I think there's the idea of riding it out. That's something we want to avoid too. I think that's when people get that to that point of fine and they can just ride it out from here but let's not ride it out. Let's flourish through this next stage. Let's not accept status quo because status quo will show up. It will tell you all the reasons why you don't want to do something. But let's not let status quo win in this next stage of our life. 


00:22:44 Benjamin Haas:  

Thank you so much. I think they're simple next steps there. If nothing else grab the book, come to me. I'd be happy to give a copy. I know you've got the coursework that's out there for people to do self-study. I just can't thank you enough for your time and your willingness to engage in this way. 


00:23:00 Patrice Jenkins, PH.D:  

You're welcome. I really enjoy the partnership that we have and thank you for inviting me. 


00:23:12 Benjamin Haas: 

Hey, Adam and I really appreciate you tuning in. Please note that the opinions we voiced in the show are for general information only, and are not intended to provide specific recommendations for any individual to determine which strategies or investments may be most appropriate for you. Consult with your attorney, your accountant and financial advisor or tax advisor prior to making any decisions or investing. Thanks for listening! 



Investment Advice offered through Great Valley Advisor Group, a Registered Investment Advisor. Great Valley Advisor Group and Haas Financial Group are separate entities. This is not intended to be used as tax or legal advice. Please consult a tax or legal professional for specific information and advice. 

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