revision 1 - 9.24.2023
The heavy manufacturing industry is a challenging business to be in and may not be a popular career choice. A common side effect of this type of career is long hours, dozens of missed child recitals, and I am not sure when I will be home, comments to our spouses. Accompanying these challenges can grow love by realizing it is a glorious opportunity to build an adventurous career, a platform to build friendships around stories that are always exaggerated. Then comes the day when the end becomes a reality, and at the moment of transition to the next chapter that you have worked your whole life for. But, you die. What makes a person die immediately at the end of their careers, either in the final months leading into the last swipe of the badge or abruptly after retirement? I want this to stop and ensure a roadmap for retirees to live beyond their final paycheck.
Six years ago, I saw Malcolm Gladwell at Stockholm Arlanda Airport. Interpreted from my grin, I think he knew, I knew, who he was. However, I respected his space, so we nodded, smiled, and moved on. I could have slowed him down on his way to his terminal with a digression on the Elvis Paradox, but I chose not to. Maybe next time.
Because I chose not to interrupt his mission within the airport, I am assuming his form of gratitude could be that of a magic wand. In Season 7 of Revisionist History, he was focused on experimenting with the power of a magical wand. By just waving a wand, one could get any data set to analyze to solve a problem that they were passionate about. This passion is accompanied by historical barriers because, in a non-magical world, the data set does not exist. But magic wands are different because of the insight and the endless supply of experimental parameters. Yes. Magic.
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
With this power, 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 a 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 the amount of generosity offered to the world to survive. However, this quantity is not the same for everyone.
Case studies show a correlation between health and lifestyle at the retirement milestone and how long you will live. But just when someone shows this correlation, someone throws out an example to disprove it. You always have the evidence that Keith Richards will continue to live until he is a hundred. So health is not cart blanc to longevity. Instead, I want to determine if maintaining the amount of generosity correlates to longevity.
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 context of generosity I am framing is that it must be given and received. Therefore, with my magic wand, I want to measure the quantity of generosity transacted during an individual career to determine the amount required to transact post-retirement. Reminder, my magic wand. Not yours. But how do you measure the quantity of generosity?
How do you measure generosity?
However, the reason for using the undeniable powers of the wand gifted to me, I understand that in the real world, generosity could be subjective and relevant to a scenario. Generosity is not always monetary, nor is it always visible. It is not the amount of donations as a ratio of total wealth. It’s not 10% of earnings or 500 hours of charitable work per year. Therefore, with my magic wand, I measure one’s generosity quantitatively by the amount of “generosygen” one naturally creates. What the hell is generosygen? It’s my magic wand, so back off. No judging.
With my magic wand, generosygen is a gas that our body produces. We produce this gas and release the stored energy in the form of a transacted generosity. Sometimes our generosity is received, relieving our stored generosygen. On other days, we choose not to be generous or not see our generosity received. These are the days that the generosygen gas builds up inside. If it is not released and received, the potential of an internal overpressurization of generosygen can exist. It is within these side effects that bad things can happen.
Examples of relieving generosygen
You are singing Happy Birthday to your youngest daughter, and the phone rings with a work call. You head into work for the emergency, your colleagues show gratefulness for your help, and your generosygen is released. Or, 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 upsetting close call to the one that you just described. They then understand their mistake and instantaneously become stronger leaders as a result. We released our generosygen. We do this over and over throughout our careers, 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 generosygen we are flirting with fire. Again, my magic wand. My experiment. My imagination.
Building a cognitive reserve
The individuals I knew who died shortly before or after retirement died of a stroke, suicide, or a heart attack. And the more I think about it, those who died were always the good ones with no extreme bad habits or health complications that I was aware of. They had lived within 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 extending support and then that someone else is grateful for their actions. However, when retirement came, they could not relieve the accumulating gas at the rate 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.
Multiple studies correlate that a healthy life after retirement is connected to one’s mental stimulation. We must find ways to continue to do complex activities after retirement. When you conduct these activities, you are neurologically compensating a cognitive reserve applicable to your future activities. It’s when your physical capabilities, mental state, or environmental conditions limit your activities, you can no longer build this cognitive reserve.
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
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 who 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 who 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 motivates me 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.