In sports, you get points for a good dismount

“A friend of mine always said that in sports you can get points for a good dismount and I was very conscious of that…not for the sake of patting myself on the back but for the sake of making it a transition that has quality to it and that not only could help me say goodbye to 45 years of work but also to help me think more deeply about what I was going to enter into.”

Endings and beginnings are all wrapped up together in each other. Especially for Howard Fishman, he wanted to be intentional about the way he “dismounted” from his long time career into the next phase of his life. Most recently, Howard worked as a Global Account Manager for Steelcase.

As he began to think about what might come next for him, Howard hates the word “retirement,” he did two things. First, he noticed his mind and heart moved back to a desire from earlier in his life: writing. He decided to start writing a blog where he could dig into some of the questions that felt pertinent to this moment of his life and get back into the practice of writing.

He also began working with his manager, colleagues at Steelcase, and members of the HR department to build a supported and structured process for transitioning out of their roles at Steelcase and into “retirement.” He thought carefully about what made sense to transition the accounts he worked on, he met with other Boomers to understand what were the main questions coming up for people looking to “retire,” for instance, healthcare, and he pulled together information that would help guide employees during the process. The goal was to create a series of best practices that could be relatively universal in nature for the company.

When I ask Howard about this process at Steelcase, he shares that creating this kind of group and working to build a system like this was something relatively unfamiliar to him. He counted on the great support of his own manager, the HR department, and other leadership who wanted to not just put a Band-Aid on the situation but to fundamentally change the experience so that needs of employees and the company were met. They wanted to foster transparent conversation. “We wanted to take the ‘R’ word out of the shadows,” Howard tells me.

On top of the transformative work he and the team pioneered at Steelcase, the blog he started gave Howard an avenue for introspection that was “invaluable.” Now that he’s months into his life after Steelcase, Howard has moved his focus from his personal blog to creating a site specifically for Baby Boomers, called BoomerRising!. He said he wants to bring inspiration and the kind of positive spin from his experience dismounting from Steelcase to help other Boomers in transition. While he hopes the site to be informative, he’s also really interested in the site discussing subjects that touch on our humanity and what gives meaning to our lives such as what makes a person a good friend.

While he was inching into new territory by his initiative at Steelcase, Howard definitely feels like the blog is something new. When I ask about how it has been starting the blog, Howard admits, “I’m still stumbling a little because when something is new you are more apt to have moments when your self-doubt kicks in…[but] it’s been helpful to broaden my perspective.”

By broadening his perspective, Howard feels a desire for a life that is holistic – open and inviting to everything that has made him who he is. He feels that now he’s in a better spot to position all the parts of him life than ever, and for that he is grateful. “If somebody asked me if I’d like to go back in time and revisit or be a younger version of myself, I always say no because I don’t want to have to go through this again. I want to have learned from what I went through, cherish the learnings, and move forward with them in a responsible way.”

Find out what’s stopping you from letting your authentic self out.

Kirsten Schowalter is the founder of Aging Courageously and the author of the memoir In My Own Skin.