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In a previous post, How to Feel Younger at Any Age, Part 2/5, I included a description of the Abyss of Insignificance.

I loved this concept so much, I decided to go to the source and read the book. It is called The Four Phases of Retirement: What to Expect When You are Retiring, written by Riley Moynes. It’s a beauty. I just finished reading it and am letting it sink in. It is a short book, right to the point and pithy. I love that word too, pithy.

In his book, Moynes spends time describing the abyss of insignificance. This can happen in Phase Two of retirement, which he calls, Feeling Loss and Feeling Lost. This phase comes after the first phase, Vacation Time, which is usually devoted to personal pleasures such as sleeping in, golf, and travel etc.

It is in the second phase where people can fall into the abyss of insignificance. Here retired people often struggle with the changes that have followed from their loss of work, loss of the structure and social engagement that work provided and the loss of a sense of purpose in their lives.

The Good Part

Moynes stresses the importance of understanding and coping with the losses he describes in Phase Two. Then he moves on to his inspiring ideas about what can come next – the good part.

Phases Three and Four, according to Moynes, are less about pleasuring ourselves and more about giving to others and finding purpose and meaning. Moynes offered the following quote from a 20-year Harvard study, which, to me, says a lot.

The unhappiest retirees had not gone on to do anything productive beyond pleasing themselves.

Moynes calls Phase Three, Trial and Error. Phase Four is Reinvent and Repurpose. These phase names get right to the point of how to move beyond the abyss and create a meaningful life in retirement.

This process can be very challenging, with much confusion and uncertainty about where one might even begin. Which makes Phase Three, Trial and Error, so important. And I like the way he recommends people deal with this confusion – by trying things, making mistakes and trying again. Learning through action, a very GSD approach. Faithful readers will know I love this appraoch to life.

Phase Four, Reinvent and Repurpose, is the really uplifting part of Moynes book. He offers three steps to help you make this phase of retirement work for you.

Strengths or Gifts

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Try to identify some of the strengths or gifts that might be unique to you. These might be skills, aptitudes, personality characteristics, interests or even things you have always wanted to learn or get better at. Often this involves activities you enjoy and would like to do more of.


Create a list of high points in your life. Times when you felt really good about yourself – like you could take on the world. Moynes asks us to think of times when we felt like Rocky Balboa running up the steps in Philadelphia. This list might also help you to narrow down the gifts you have to offer.

Desire to Make a Difference

This step involves looking for common threads, between what you learned in steps one and two, and weaving them together into a plan for a retirement with value and purpose. Moynes recommends giving each thread a name, like a kind of shorthand that helps you to put them to use.

Moynes thinks that your attitude to these process is all-important. He suggests a pep-talk with yourself such as:

“I’m ready to move ahead. I want to move forward. I want to contribute. I want to add value”

Near the end of his book, Moynes sums up his main message and this is one with which I fully agree.

“Those who enjoy the greatest well-being in retirement are those who reach out, who make something happen and don’t sit back while watching the world go by.”

I also think that you should take your time as you sort out what may be a complicated pattern you are trying to weave. It is important to get moving, but also to enjoy the ride and the scenery along the way.

As you can tell, I liked this short and pithy book. And I have tried to take it to heart. You can read about my journey in my ebook,

How to Feel Younger In Your Retirement Years. (60 pages). Send for your Free copy from

Until next time, let our warm hearts soar!


And thank you for caring that little bit extra – it really makes a big difference.

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