Women – “You’re single, aging and thinking about the future.”
So begins the new book, by Jill O’Donnell & Jackie Porter – Single by Choice or Chance (The smart woman’s guide to living longer, better), which I first commented on right after its release in my August 2nd blog post. As I said then, the good news, as reflected in the book, is that for single women in later life, there are more options, resources and role models than ever before.
Rather than a traditional book review, here in the first of two parts, I present views of the authors as shared through interview questions, and in conversation with them in late October.
As I sat down with Jill and Jackie, what impressed me was how well the convergence of their thinking flowed from their two distinct areas of professional practice – eldercare management and financial planning.
Authors Interview, Part 1
Mark’s Q: In our book, you lead with a focus on single women 45-plus, offering it as a guide to living longer, better – what is your best advice to women who may be having a hard time at 45, projecting their thinking twenty years out and beyond?
Jill: Women in their 40’s whether single or not, do contemplate their future much more readily than we give them credit. With an aging society, everybody needs to prepare for a much longer lifetime, and what that may entail.
Jackie: I think women need to keep in mind that the future happens sooner than you think. If you have an idea of what you want it to look like sooner than later, you will have more control of it. You also have more time to refine and re-frame what you want for the future if you already have a starting point.
Mark’s Q: How do you best get the advice in this book out into the consciousness of single women in lower or fixed income status – and what plan do you have for how you could market this book to this and other segments of single women?
Jill: Hopefully we can encourage organizations such as women’s shelters and other such resources to purchase our book to give to these women to help them in planning their future. We plan to meet with Executive Directors of women’s organizations, do seminars and workshops and have the organizations provide the book to women who will get the most out of it – women in transition such as from divorce or job loss.
Mark’s Q: (A preamble here.) Over my 20 years or so in the career development field, a core message, for those who are facing career transition, has been to develop a strategic career/life plan, (which you also do encourage in Chapter 2 of your book). Of course, the challenge is that a plan is only a plan, life changes and few people lift their heads to “revisit” the plan after they start with one.
For years, my mantra has been that in helping people move through a later life journey, we would better serve them, if we stopped calling it “retirement planning”, and call it “longevity planning”. To what extent do you think that would make a difference, if for example financial planners would start by framing things this way?
Jackie: People should think about their future in a more holistic way. Retirement planning tends to compartmentalize how many people see their future. It focuses on trips and leisure time, when there are so many more aspects of later life planning than just stopping work. This includes health, where you want to live, how you will remain independent in later life to name a few.
I think advisors could help their clients plan for more “what if’s” this way. We could also help them to create more meaningful plans for life if their thought about planning for “the rest of their life” instead of just retirement.
Jill: Absolutely! I hate the word retirement. In today’s world, the meaning has changed. People are remaining at paid work longer. Knowing they could well live into their 90s and beyond makes them be more cognizant of putting a plan in place. Of course, getting them to write it, revise it and follow it isn’t easy.
Part 2 of Single by Choice or Chance: Authors Interview on November 22