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Let's stop people from dying immediately after retirement.

The heavy manufacturing industry is tough and is not a career that many would embrace. Too often the career is compounded with long hours, dozens of missed child recitals, and I am not sure when I will be home, comments to our spouses. However, for those that do fall in love with the industry, it is a wonderful opportunity to build an adventurous career, a platform to build friendships around stories that are always exaggerated, all while financially supporting a family that volunteered to ride shotgun. Then the journey comes to an end as you reflect upon what is next. You are embracing this next chapter that you have worked your whole life for, spend a few months within it, and then… you die. Why do people die so soon after the end of their careers? I want this to stop. Malcolm Gladwell, I want to use a magic wand with an experiment to stop this. I want to provide a roadmap for retirees to prevent this when they get their last paycheck.

I swear I saw Malcolm Gladwell at a Stockholm airport a few years ago. He knew I knew who he was, but we just nodded, smiled, and moved on. I feel he would have gifted me one of his magic wands in exchange for not slowing him down on his way to his terminal. In Season 7, he is dedicating it to experiments. To conduct the experiments sometimes you are given a magic wand to solve a problem that you are fascinated by but cannot solve with any exact form of data. Instead, you are gifted the ability to leverage insight with an endless supply of experimental parameters only limited by your imagination.

The reason to do magic wands is to help us think about things that we want to know but aren’t allowed to find out. Magic wands are supposed to make you feel a little uncomfortable. - Malcolm Gladwell

My rules

So for my experiment, I want to correlate that there is a relationship that affects your health after retirement within the framework that if you cannot be generous at the level you were before retirement you will have a short life after you retire. I want to have the data to underwrite, with high probability, that a long life after retirement requires one to have a platform to be generous at the moment retirement begins.

Within this experiment, we would test that the amount of generosity that is required to be given isn’t the same for everyone. Unfortunately, the ”scrooges'' will sometimes live to a ripe old age. There are case studies that show a correlation between age, health, or lifestyle at this retirement milestone that indicates how long you are going to live. But just when someone shows this correlation, someone shows one that puts it in doubt. You always have the evidence that Keith Richards will continue to live until he is a hundred. So this isn’t accurate across all people. Instead, I want to see that maintaining the amount of generosity, equal to the amount given before retirement, is the correlation.

What’s interesting is that we didn’t find any sociodemographic, lifestyle, or health factors that affected the relationship between delayed retirement and a lower risk of dying. - Nicole Torres - HBR

The aspects of generosity are framed around a definition that generosity must be given and received to achieve generosity in totality. Therefore, with my magic wand, I want to quantitatively measure the level of generosity during one’s career and after one’s career in the heavy manufacturing industry up to the moment that they all die. Reminder... my magic wand. Not yours.

How do you measure generosity?

The reason for utilizing the undeniable powers of my gifted magic wand is that you can’t measure generosity quantitatively. I will argue that it isn’t always monetary nor is it always visible. It's not defined as a tax write-off of donations as a ratio of total wealth. It’s not 10% of earnings, nor is it 100 hours of charitable work to United Way in a year. Therefore, with my magic wand, I am measuring one’s generosity quantitatively by the amount of “generosygen” that one creates. What the hell is generosygen? It’s my magic wand, so back off. No judging.

With my magic wand, I am defining generosygen as a gas that our body produces. We produce this gas and emit it when we conduct a generous act to others and recognize that the act was acknowledged. Every day we continuously make more generosygen, with a healthy neurological requirement to release. Sometimes we see our act of generosity received, relieving our stored generosygen. On other days we choose not to be generous or not confirm that our generous act was received. These are the days that the generosygen gas builds up inside, getting us closer to an imaginary overpressurization of generosygen.

Examples of relieving generosygen

We are singing happy birthday to our youngest daughter and the phone rings from work. We head into work for the emergency, your colleagues show that they are grateful for your help, and the generosygen is released. We see a young up-and-comer make a safety mistake in the mill, and we quietly tell them a personal story from 20 years ago of a similar scenario where someone instead got hurt. They correlate their close-call scenario to the one that you just described, understanding their mistake, and we instantaneously see them become a stronger leader as a result. We released our generosygen. We do this over and over, throughout our entire career, and the regenerative process keeps us motivated to go back to work and do it again. Build, relieve, and build again. When we can’t release this generosygen, we are playing with fire. Again, my magic wand. My experiment. My imagination.

Building a cognitive reserve

The majority of the individuals that I know that died shortly after retirement, died of stroke or a heart attack. And the more I think about it, those that died were always the good ones and had no extreme bad habits or health complications that I was aware of. They had always lived their lives with a career that made them known for being generous. They were the type that always answered their phone when you called. When you were broken down, they stopped whatever they were doing to come in and help. When you needed to be verbally calibrated, they did it one-on-one with the tone of an influential mother. They epitomized my definition of generosity by helping someone else out, and then that someone else is grateful for the services. However, when retirement came, they could not relieve the accumulating gas at the rate that their body was accustomed to generating. As the body generates the generosygen with nowhere for it to go, the unfortunate result is that the individual dies.

There are lots of studies that correlate the success of health after retirement is connected to one’s mental stimulation. Finding ways to continue to do complex things after retirement seems to show a direct relationship to one’s health. During these activities, you are neurologically compensating a cognitive reserve to be applied to your future activities. It’s when your physical capabilities, mental state, or environmental conditions limit your activities to no longer build this cognitive reserve you tend to experience health issues.

Cognitive reserve refers to individual differences in how tasks are performed that may allow some people to be more resilient than others. The concept of cognitive reserve holds out the promise of interventions that could slow cognitive aging or reduce the risk of dementia. - National Library of Medicine

The experiment

My magic wand measures the amount of generosity required to dissipate at retirement. It then points to a strategy to prevent this overpressurization so that they can fulfill the retirement that they always wanted. With the results of my experiment, I want these individuals to see what they have to do to live the retirement they deserve. Imagine at retirement you are given a single sheet of paper that says, “Cindy, below is your roadmap to properly relieve your generosygen to live the planned retirement you have always dreamed about.”

I have many around me that have recently retired or are getting close to retirement. I want them to achieve the retirement they deserve with the acknowledgment of relieving their generosygen. I also want to learn what my level of generosygen is so that at my retirement, I know exactly what I have to do to dissipate it to live longer than just a few months. I want this solved. My experiment will show this. My wand. My experiment. Thanks Malcolm.

My commitment to retirement

Life comes at you fast. You stop and think, “did I give it my all?” Did I relieve all of the generosygen produced today? Did I finish today better than yesterday for those around me and myself? I typically always answer this question with ”no… I could have done more.” And then start listing out those gaps or missed opportunities to be more generous. This is what motivates me at this moment in my career and I can only hope I can continue this mindset when I retire. This is what pushes me to do more for those around me, those that look up to me, and for myself. At a minimum, I owe this to my heroes who have been instrumental to me over my career. This is what gets me up with a smile after the crappiest of days, knowing I have been given today to do more. This is what generosity means to me. It must be given AND received. And when it stops, you die.


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