I’m always in awe of people who want to write a book and actually do. Many of us, especially bloggers, feel we have a ‘book’ in us, but not many carry this dream through to fruition. My guest today in the Over 50 & Thriving Series, is Patricia West Doyle from Retirement Transition. I have followed Pat and her blog for quite a while now and we have many things in common.
I recently interviewed Pat because I wanted to firstly congratulate her on her recent publication ‘Retirement Transition – An Innovative Approach’ and secondly to delve a little into how and why she felt this book was long overdue. I know I would have loved a copy of this before I retired at 57 but reading the book now I can still use the information even 5 years into retirement!
I hope you enjoy learning more about Pat and her new book and encourage you to connect with her through the links at the end of the interview.
Retirement Transition – an Interview with Author, Patricia Doyle
Tell us a little about yourself and why you have written a book ‘Retirement Transition – An Innovative Approach’? When was your ‘a-ha’ moment? The moment you knew you wanted to write a book?
I spent 32 years in corporate America doing research on product innovation. I was a workaholic and often had people telling me I needed to “get a life”. I had very few hobbies and no exercise program. I worked (and was quite successful at it).
In April 2014, I was given an early retirement package, much earlier than I anticipated retiring. The finances would be fine; I did have that aspect of retirement planned. But for everything else, there was NO PLAN. What was I supposed to DO?
A good friend, who is a Learner and knows my researcher tendencies, gave me 10 books on retirement. A lot of these books talked about the importance of retiring TO something, the importance of having a strong support system, and the importance of doing things (hobby, second career, volunteer work), you were passionate about.
There were lots of case studies of people successfully doing those things and therefore having a satisfying retirement. But very few of the books told you HOW to go from the stopping work moment to having that satisfying retirement lifestyle. How do you figure out what was right for you?
The work I did on innovating products was quite often re-inventing a product or brand. Right after I retired I was talking with another consultant about branding my consulting business. (Yes, I knew how to work, so of course that was the first thing I started doing in retirement – going back to work.) I had the insight that I could re-invent myself by using the same Innovation Process I had successfully used on products throughout the years.
As I worked through my own retirement transition using the Innovation Approach I had used successfully for years, I re-discovered a love of writing, a joy in creating frameworks, and the urge to share this all with others. So, I started a blog (www.retirementtransition.blog) and began crafting the book outlining this HOW TO approach to figure out your best retirement lifestyle.
How long did it take you to write the book and what was your writing schedule?
The book emerged almost organically as I started documenting what I was doing in my own retirement transition. I never wrote on a regular basis. I’d spend endless hours one day writing and then not do anything on it for weeks.
As I looked back on it, the big aha moments along the way were renaming the phases of the innovation process to be less Corporate and more human, creating the holistic Life Domains Framework, figuring out how to make chapters out of the process, and the decision to include real-life examples and some of my blog posts.
I usually say it took me 9 months to write the basic content and then 2 years to edit! Editing including boosting content in some areas, eliminating content when I got too wordy in other areas, writing better transitions between paragraphs and chapters, and determining stylistic elements that made it cohesive.
Which part of the book did you have most difficulty writing?
The chapter on the Self-Development/Generativity Life Domain was the hardest to write. I changed the name of this domain multiple times, pondering how to include things like purpose, volunteering, and legacy. I think the reason this one was such a challenge is that it is the Life Domain I still have the most personal work to do. It’s the life domain I struggle with the most in setting a life vision that is authentic to me.
Which section of the book is your favourite and why?
While not a section, one favourite aspect of the book is the COOL TOOLS! I still use many of these tools on a regular basis. I regularly update my Vision Statement and Action Plan, do the Values versus Activities Assessment, and refer to my Jolts of Joy and Personal Possibilities List for ideas.
One thing I hope comes across in the book is that everyone’s retirement lifestyle will be different. When I first retired, I was told what was expected “for someone like me”.
Here’s the list I was given: More engagement with your grandkids, Start a second career, Travel extensively, Increase your hobby engagement, Volunteer more, and Work out more. You’ll notice that this assumed I had children who would provide grandchildren; that I had hobbies, exercise program, and volunteer work that would just needed a boost; and continued working was expected.
Through the self-discovery involved in this personal Innovation Approach to retirement transition, I think everyone can determine what their OWN “expectations” can be for their retirement.
What have you discovered about yourself during your own Retirement Transition?
The Self-Discovery tools in the REFLECT phase of the process are quite extensive and can take time to work through, but were amazingly helpful in better articulating my personal Values, Strengths, and Interests. I’ve learned to accept my need for structure, and have recently said, “Yes, I am a list-aholic”. I love having new things to try and things on my calendar to do, but I’ve also learned to balance do-ing with times of just be-ing. Appreciating the quiet times of just be-ing is quite the challenge for a recovering workaholic.
My Life Vision work, also part of the REFLECT phase, indicated that while I was a “critical thinker” in my work, I didn’t necessarily want to be critical in my life. I began using a series of tools to practice positivity, and continue using them almost daily. Some long-term friends will tell you I have changed dramatically in this regard.
I’ve also realized that life is a series of transitions and I am a work in progress. I continue to fight my Compare & Despair inner voice, to stop Waiting for Someday in thinking about doing things, and to practice Self-care, including appreciating my own strengths and loving myself (and not feeling selfish or guilty about it).
In your blog post ‘It will be Enough’ you mention that whilst writing the book a voice in your head kept asking ‘Who do you think you are?’ How did you overcome self-doubt and the imposter syndrome?
There was significant self-doubt about publishing this book. Most other retirement books are written by long-term life coaches, or by individuals with strong Human Resources backgrounds, or people with lots of letters after their names. The “who do you think you are” inner voice kept me from exploring publishing for over two years.
It was the support of a number of people who actually helped me take the final plunge. Karen Hume (who no longer blogs) and Janet Mary Combs were two blogging buddy supporters who gave me a huge final push to publish. Another blogger I read (Terri) gave me insight into her self-publishing approach.
Then, there was a good friend (Candyse) who has such a go-for-it attitude in her own retirement and basically challenged me, “What are you waiting for?” My Mom, who has always thought I could do anything I set my mind to, also said, “Just do it (already)”.
And the continued self-development work I’ve been doing to silence that inner voice and believe that “I am enough”. The Universe was definitely sending me signs that pushed me to publish. But I can also tell you that at every stage of the publication journey, I was taking a deep breath and pushing myself forward. Hence the blog in the midst of it all, “It will be Enough”.
You refer to writing your book as your ‘passion project’. What do you mean by this?
My friend Candyse called my book this in a conversation about things we spend money on in retirement. In her retirement, she trains and competes in ballroom dance. It is a passion for her. She pointed out to me that 1) it doesn’t really matter how good she is (and she is quite good) but it’s more because she loves to do it (a passion) and 2) lots of people pay for their retirement hobbies, so paying to self-publish (if you can afford it and I could) was just like someone paying for hobby supplies, hobby equipment, entrance fees, or training/classes. So getting my book published and in my hand became a “passion project”. And yes, the first moment I had it in my hands was simply amazing!
Are there any more books on the horizon?
Never say never. Years ago I thought about writing a book about Life-stages for women as I had done a lot of research in this space to develop different products targeting different women. But there was a fear of not having the credentials (the letters after my name) to support it. I’ve considered a memoir type of book with short stories about my work life.
I often told the women I mentored about “getting invited to the party” which is a similar concept that Sheryl Sandberg called Lean In. And I’ve begun playing with an A to Z of Retirement. That last one feels more authentic to the person I am now, but I’ve not yet felt the writing begin to flow organically like it did with Retirement Transition. So, the answer to that question is a definite maybe!
Who do you draw inspiration from?
I read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction. For fiction books, I’m prone to underline or highlight the parts I really resonate with and then create a “Pat summary”. When I worked, my colleagues always asked for those summaries instead of reading the books.
In retirement, I’ve turned a few of my summaries into blogs posts. And also I read quite a few blogs (including yours Sue!) and magazines.
Recently I’ve been doing a few different Chopra Centre meditation series that are quite inspiring, and have been encouraged to try podcasts. I’m not sure about them as I’m a visual learner, but I will definitely try soon.
The areas I’m exploring now, and looking for inspiration in, include self-development in adulthood, how we think, and personal spirituality. Yes, all in that Self-Development/Generativity Life Domain!
Many people talk about writing a book. What advice would you give to others who might be thinking of doing this?
I believe that anyone who blogs can easily craft a book to publish! I was pleasantly surprised how easy the self-publishing approach was (I’m not in it for the Money).
There are also cheaper options than the approach I used with a small-scale self-publishing press. If someone truly has a desire to publish, to leave a legacy of his or her thoughts for the future, then start writing.
It could be as simple as compiling a series of blog posts in an area, or developing a totally new idea. Pull up a book template (Google it – lots of options), and start writing. At a recent Women’s Writing Circle this comment was made: “What makes a writer a writer? They write. “
Thanks for the opportunity to be “interviewed” about my book Retirement Transition. It was personally insightful to think through some of these questions.
Meet & Connect with Pat
In July 2014, I retired from a 30+ year corporate career with one company. This timing was a few years earlier than planned, as a highly attractive, early retirement package was offered. Given the timing and my work-focused life style, I did not have a plan in place for what came next. I am a planner by nature, so the days after the retirement moment became a journey of learning about transition, a journey I am still on.
Part of the transition was discovering what I wanted to do. I uncovered a desire to write, a love of research & synthesis, and a realization that I liked to advise/teach others.
This all merged into creation of my Retirement Transition blog and then my book, also called Retirement Transition. Available online at Amazon: https://amazon.com/dp/1545656371/
After blogging for 2+ years, I continue to love the connections with other bloggers on similar transition journeys from full-time career to what comes next here in “mid-life”. I continually learn from others – through their blogs and comments.
I currently live in the Mid-west (Cincinnati) with my also-retired husband and our Lab-mix dog, Taylor.