Thursday, January 1, 2009

So What Exactly is a HarvilleQuarter?

The short definition is: "A retirement activity that lasts about three months and produces learning, growth and satisfaction." I came to the idea as I was thinking about my own retirement which, I hope, will begin in about eight or ten years. I've always found it difficult to envision really attractive ways to spend my retirement, at least within any kind of reasonable budget.

This is not a minor issue for me. My Dad died just last spring at age 100, in amazingly good physical condition until the last nine months; if I follow in his footsteps, I will have several decades of retirement in which to do something (what?) or possible nothing. 30 years of "nothing" is not that attractive, so that leads to the question of what kind of "something" do I want this retirement thing to be.

Having read a few articles and blogs about retirement plans, most seem to assume a continual, indefinite timeline of one or more favorite hobbies or activities - traveling, volunteering, quilting, reading, wordworking, gardening or a host of others. It seems that you pick a few of these and keep doing them until you can't anymore. Frankly, I can't think of anything I want to do for 30 years. It really didn't seem to be much to look forward to - but neither did working for another 15 or 20 years.

Thinking back on career experiences that brought me the most satisfaction, I realized they were projects with clear goals and defined beginnings and ends. The best projects required me to work with new clients in new industries with new colleagues doing work with new elements that demanded creativity on my part.

I wondered - could I build a retirement around a set of "projects" with all or most of those elements? That's when the idea of creating distinct projects of roughly three months' duration struck me. Every three months, I'd get to make a new beginning on something that I found interesting (or, if it turned out to be disappointing, I would only be into it for three months). Retirement, rather than one long "petering out" doing a few things, would be populated by a host of planned, enjoyable and memorable events.

At age 65, assuming relatively good health until at least 85, I'll have the opportunity to engage in 80 different HarvilleQuarters. That sounds much more enjoyable and satisfying to me than 20 years of ongoing gardening, traveling and volunteering. (Of course, gardening, traveling and volunteering could all be candidates for one or more HarvilleQuarters.

My purpose in building this blog is to start my journey in clarifying, elaborating and recording my ideas for HarvilleQuarters. I hope that some of you will help me by adding your thoughts and suggestions to mine, as well as proposing entirely new ones that we can build on together. If there are in fact many people out there who feel as we do about retirement, this site could become a terrific resource for all of us to discover better HarvilleQuarters than the ones we'd thought of by ourselves.

Plus, 80 HarvilleQuarters are an awful lot to come up with on my own. I need help! I'll start by posting about a few that I've thought of and wait for you to add yours.

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