After the Webinar: Don’t Wait Until Retirement to Live a Good Life. Q&A with Amy Morgan

Webinar presenter Amy Morgan answered a number of your questions after her webinar, Don’t Wait Until Retirement to Live a Good Life. Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: Did you use any particular books or websites or videos that helped you shape your perspective on finding purpose and planning for retirement? 

Amy Morgan: ——- never be a long list? And I basically start every day and throughout the day just look for positives. So, what I did, what I did first when I retired was I unsubscribed from a whole lot of newsfeeds and that sort of thing and took the negative because there was just a whole lot of you know I was following all the first responder everything. And hearing all the bad news on a regular basis. And so, I first eliminated a lot of the negatives and then started subscribing to things that were positive-focused and it’s motivational videos. Movies that are about succeeding in life or happy lives, or that sort of thing, Music. I changed my music choices, my playlists that were, you know, I call them happy, positive music or morning get going music, or just it’s just a matter of, you know, I could give a list of books to read and that sort of thing. But it’s, that’s all going to be a personal preference thing. I would look everywhere you go for ways to integrate positive as an answer to that question. That’s a generic answer, but it is it is a personal thing. I could say, watch a bunch of YouTube videos. Or listen to music. But if you’re not a YouTube person or a music person, that’s not going to help. I would just literally look everywhere you go. Your brain chemistry changes. Here you go with the neuroscience again. But the brain chemistry actually changes based on how much negative you’ve taken and how much positive you’ve taken. And if you’re constantly taking a negative, it will change your brain chemistry to where it looks like depression, and you become cynical and depressed. If you saturate yourself with positives, wherever you can find things that make you feel positive. So, maybe, if you’d like to watch comedy, that’s not for everybody. But if you’d like to watch comedy, and that’s, that makes you laugh, laughter actually is good for you physiologically, it adds oxygen to your blood, it helps your heart, it does all sorts of things, it releases tension. Even if you fake laugh, like if you’re just sitting and you just like, I’m not going to do it because I sound like an idiot, but if you just like fake laugh. It actually is good for you, physically. So, anything you can do that makes you feel that lowers your heart rate, makes you feel relaxed, that makes you feel happy in that moment, that motivation that makes you go, man, I feel better after I saw that. Or heard that or watched that or talk to that person, that’s what I would do. And I would just, like every day, you know, integrate those things in and repeat them and saturate your brain as much as possible, with whatever feels positive to you.


Audience Question: Was the Strategic Happiness plan a program? 

Amy Morgan: Yes, it is. It is a, let me go back, can I move my slides still? So that is at I don’t mean to make this a commercial. But, yes, the Strategic Happiness Plan is an online program made for 52 weeks, one session, every week, and it’s like a video to watch with some sort of educational thing. A little video, 5 to 15 minutes, and then some sort of self-assessment that you’ll do. And some sort of, sometimes, there’s like a practical application like this week, I want you to go and look at whatever in your life.

Yep, I don’t want to make it a commercial.


Audience Question: So, how do you follow this advice if you’re moving away on your own as soon as you retire? 

Amy Morgan: Moving away at your own, like, going to a whole new place. Yeah, so, you’re going to have to start over basically. You’re going to have to move in, and then I’m going to say, if this is a new location, moving away by yourself. That’s me right now, like, I’m about to go full-time RVing I’m going to be a lot of places where I know no one. So, find ways to, to find purpose and connection find, you know, groups. You can volunteer at groups that are… and you may not like the groups you first join. Do it just as a starter, you know, find a support group, or something where you go to the library. They have a senior citizens day, or whatever it is. I mean, you may be like, No, I don’t want to go there and hang out with the old people. Well, we are the old people. But just, I would just say, start over. You know, what? If you go to church, go to church, and start meeting people, you’re going to have to. But I think with everything you do, make sure you are intentional and purposeful about finding good connections, finding good friends. You know, FaceTime or Zoom with people who you’re moving away from that you want to stay in touch with so that you still have that connection while you’re building new connections. Just don’t let yourself get isolated and detached and disconnected. That’s why you have the transition, right? Because you’re still you wherever you go, if you had things in place that gave you a sense of purpose, try to do those in the new place as well. And if you don’t have those, start doing some real self-assessments in what would give me that? What would make me feel like I’m contributing to the world around me, or to my new community, or to the new people in my life and that sort of thing? Hopefully, that helps I’m sure it does.


Audience Question: Do you have suggestions on dealing with being a new empty nester? 

Amy Morgan: This is going to be silly advice cry when you feel like crying, don’t try to stop it. And the same thing. I basically had to figure out who was I without my kids. Which is still hard. You know, I’ve watched a couple of videos of people who like, oh, this is how hard it is for a mom, and it just makes you bawl. But if you did a really good job. as a parent your kids move on and don’t need you, And that’s the hard thing about it is if they don’t need you, it’s sad because you’ve used to like every minute of every day worrying about these children and then all of a sudden do they remember that you exist? Like it’s a very hard thing but that means you did a good job, because they’re off doing their own thing and living adult lives. I was actually talking to Aaron before this webinar about my youngest daughter, she’s very responsible. Very smart, and has a career job, but still sometimes wants to be the little girl. And I’m happy to let her because she’s my baby. But it is hard to look for those opportunities. And also do things where you go become a big sister, big brother, in that organization. Or join some group where you’re helping kids being around kids and stuff. But it’s really about who are you? Who are you as a person? That’s the person without the kids around. And once you figure that out, then, you know, you’ll be okay because you are your own person. As parents, sometimes we do become, so-and-so’s mom, so-and-so’s dad, and so it’s just finding that. Who am I? And am I okay in my own space? And what am I going to do with all this extra time that I’m not driving kids everywhere now? It’s a hard thing.


Audience Question: I love to travel during vacations. Does the appeal of travel tend to weigh in after a few trips? 

Amy Morgan: I guess that depends on who you are, where you’re traveling, and your experiences. Not for me. I had been full-time in 2020 and gave everything away and started full-time RVing and teaching first responders, a class called Trauma of Being A First Responder, and I loved it. The only thing that’s hardest, I think, with that part, is not having a home base, because you like to go home. You know, I love being gone, I love to travel, but you also want to go home? It depends. Like if you’re tired of going to the same place, then you’re going to need variety. If you feel like you like a place, then go there regularly. It’s going to be very individualized. If you find you’re tired of it, don’t do it anymore. Like, find something else. I like to travel. I like the adventure of it and where you go where you meet new people and the variety of it. I like that. I work in my camper, I’ve set up a desk here, but I like looking out the window. Right now, I’m looking out at leaves that are changing and there’s a lake and it’s raining like, for me, that feeds my soul. For some people, it’s exhausting. So, it just kind of depends on who you are where you travel, and how much you enjoy it.


Audience Question: Does going back to work as a volunteer at the law enforcement agency I just retired from seems like a good idea? I can’t help but wonder if I’m limiting myself. 

Amy Morgan: I would say don’t let that be your only activity. I think it is a great idea, and actually when I developed Academy Hour’s peer support training. And one of the things they teach there is retirees make great peer support people. The retirees have so much wisdom and so much experience, and so much to teach, and they should become mentors to the younger people in the department, instead of just kind of like, “Hey, bye, great career. We’re glad you’re here, but bye.” I hate that because there’s so much for them to share and teach. So, I love the idea of going back and volunteering. But, again, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Even if you were to do that for the rest of your life, it, you need to have that balance. You just need to have more things outside. Otherwise, you’re just finding a way to keep yourself in the same thing you were doing before.


Audience Question: I’ve spent 15 years in my criminal justice career. I don’t know anything else. I feel like I have to stick it out for another five years for retirement, but I also feel like it no longer fits me. I feel trapped. What do you suggest? 

Amy Morgan: I hear that a lot. And a lot of the crisis interventions I did were, you know, “I’m 10 or 15 years into this career and I’m burned out. I’m tired, I hate people, I’m this and that.

I don’t want to do it anymore, but I’m vested. I’m invested now, not quite vested, and if I wait 5 or 10 years, I get retirement.” And so, they’re, they’re staying in something that no longer fits and no longer feels like a good sense of purpose and they’re giving up their sacrificing their personal lives and their health for that point five years from now, or 10 years from now.

Like five years, it’s harder, because you’re like, “Oh, I’m so close.” Five years of your life spent doing something that’s not good for you, or that’s maybe taking a negative toll on you is too long. So, it’s a personal choice obviously there. Like, what are you going to do after that five years? Like, if you, if you started your career, when you’re 20 and you’re about to be 40, when you retire, what are you going to do for 40 years? You know, you still need to have a sense of purpose. A lot of people in particularly in law enforcement will have their 20-year retirement. And then they go to a different department, different retirement system, and do another 20 years. So, they then have two retirement programs. But it’s you’re just doing the same thing. And then they have the part-time jobs on the side where they’re doing the same thing. And I always recommend, if you’re going to have a part-time job, do something not related to your full-time job, do something completely different, that you might enjoy. The problem is, this is all I know, and I heard that in there, “This is all I know.” It is. But let’s say for some reason, you had to do a medical retirement, you were a forced retirement of some sort, and you would find something to do, what would that be? Like, you know, even go to one of the counselors that helps you find careers that they help college kids, and high school kids like find what do you want to do? What would you be that’s totally unrelated or related in some way I’m kind of doing related in some way, but that’s not the part that doesn’t fit? Find what does fit. And you may not need to wait that five years, You may live the next 30 years in a career that fits you, even though you’re giving up that five years until retirement thing right now, you’re switching over to a better life for yourself. So, the hard part of that is finding what that thing is when you think this is all I know, it may be all you know till, right now. This is the, this is the first time you’ve ever been, the age you are today, You have everything. I ———- with my kids. I use this example of a blank book when you’re born, you’re handed a blank journal, and you don’t know what’s going to be in that whole journal for the rest of your life. But everything that happens in your life becomes a page in that journal. And all those blank pages in front of you, you get to decide most of those. Something’s happened to you and they’re put in those pages, against your will or without you choosing. But, for the most part, look at all those blank pages, that’s yours. That’s yours to do what you want to. Again, you have to take on the challenge of figuring out what you want to, what the new thing is. But it’s worth it. It’s worth the effort. You have that whole thing to fill up by yourself. And if you just go, I’m just going to tolerate this because this is what I know.

Even though I’m unhappy and it’s taking a toll on me, at some point, it’s going to take such a toll on you that you’re going to be full of regret, and nobody wants to live their life with regret. You lived your life with purpose and intention and be adventurous as far as figuring out what that next thing is. That’s the best advice I can give, I think.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Don’t Wait Until Retirement to Live a Good Life



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