Retirement Untethered: Bliss List

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees
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The ten-fold path to retirement bliss

A list of ten things has a nice roundness to it. Very metric. Besides, covering all of these items and doing them well will likely take up a good deal of your retirement days. And if you haven’t retired yet, then this is a good opportunity to get a head start on some of these things.  

Prior to actually retiring, devise a plan. I formulated a series of ten steps for a contented retirement. Because a constantly happy retirement would also be just as exhausting.

 

There is always a major emphasis on happiness. Consider the happiest place or time you have ever been. Did it last for a substantial period of time? All day perhaps, or just a few hours, minutes? I am just suggesting that you do not have to exhaust yourself achieving this constant level of happiness, when a nice level of well-being will do just as nicely.

 

So, I have laid out a nice series of visuals. Each of these sections comes with a few stories to give a bit of an example. Some of the more recent work by behavioral economists tries to explain that we communicate and relate to others through stories.

 

Some of these stories have been around for decades, centuries and some for thousands of years. Some stories have lost their potency, while others have shown some amazing staying power.

 

  1. Be like Alice in Wonderland. Metaphorically figure out where you want to end up. If you do not know where you want to go, then any road lined with mini umbrella drinks will get you there. This likely includes thinking where you actually want to be during certain points of time. Staying in one place allows seeing all of the seasons. Move around and perhaps you can follow your favorite season.

 

To be continued

 

RETIREMENT UNTETHERED-LISTS

This past winter I was at a conference with my wife. She was in meetings and I was a kept man, so I did the manly thing and struck out on my own without telling anyone.

I left the hotel grounds and followed this one path that went out into the forest and hills. No working smart phone, no water, no food, just a blind sense that this would be fun in some fashion.

After I walked for an unknown period of time, I began to realize that I didn’t know how long I had been walking. The tall trees blocked any sort of orientation view. The snow blocked all of the sounds from any other person. There were no trail makers. I didn’t know how far I had gone or if I would actually end up somewhere. There was no issue about getting lost since all I had to do was turn around and go back. But I had this sense of being in one of those sensory isolation chambers. I didn’t know where I was or where I was going or how long I was away. The passage of time disappeared. If I kept wandering till it was dark, then that would have been a separate issue.

Therein lies some necessity for a list, or a series of steps to tell oneself where one is on the path of self-discovery. If you have never discovered yourself before, how do you know what you might look like?

 

#motivation #retirement #inspiration

 

RETIREMENT UNTETHERED

 

Once you finished living to work, now you can start working to live.

Becoming untethered has a connotation that one was tethered in the first place. Most of us are tethered in some fashion. Perhaps emotionally, mentally spiritually. If you are physically tethered, hopefully that’s a lifestyle choice. And so long as no one gets hurt, it is all fine. Unless you want to get hurt, and we assume that is a lifestyle choice once again.

If you really intend to become untethered, then is following any sort of path the right thing to do? I would suggest having some guideposts would help since there are bramble bushes all along the way. Best to avoid them if at all possible.

Lists provide a bit of closure. How can you tell if you have finished walking a path if you don’t follow the sign posts?

 

#motivation #retirement #inspiration

RETIREMENT UNTETHERED

Retirement needs rebranding. When people asked me when I plan to retire, I told them that I intend a paradigm shift in a year or two. I do not intend to retire from life.

I entered this transitional state where retirement just seems to be on the horizon. This state feels different from working and different from actually being retired. Change can be exciting, so I wrote about my experiences in this changing state of life.

We met up with a couple of long-time friends. Not old friends. Not in their minds. She had retired last year and a work acquaintance asked her what it like going from 60 to 0? I am surprised my friend did not give the person a bit of smack upside of the head and ask what that was like. She only did that figuratively.

Our retired friend has not slowed down. If anything she is moving at the same speed. When we retire, we still go the speed limit, or perhaps a bit faster. We are just on a nicer, less crowded highway.

 

#retirement #life #inspiration #motivation

Lawyering the COVIDA LOCA: Contact Tracing

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COVID-19 Contact Tracing

 

Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you

 

The Police-Every Breath you take

 

Now that the COVIC-19 dust appears to be settling, the question then becomes how employers can open their offices. The virus can certainly resurge at any point in time and no one appears to be anxious to have a redo on all of the isolation most of us have undergone in the past few months. Of course, an employer has a workplace health and safety requirement to provide a safe work environment.

 

If an employee comes back into the workplace and unknowingly introduces the virus into the workplace, what sort of steps can an employer take to reduce the overall impact?

 

One good way to minimize risk will be through contact tracing. This process identifies, educates and monitors individuals who have had close contact with someone who carries the virus as these individuals face a higher risk of becoming infected themselves.

 

In Ontario, they have started the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Initiative. Here if you have the virus, or have had contact with someone who has the virus, a provincial health officer would contact you to ensure you are following requirements, to check in about your symptoms, and to connect you with additional supports.

 

However, how do you determine what staff went in and out of the office and may have had contact with the potential carrier? You do not have to go through law school to know how faulty memories can be.

 

Companies could bring back the old stamping time clock method. I did this for a number of companies that I now look around and see no longer exist.

 

You might totally recall the tracking device that Arnold Schwarzenegger had to pull out of a nasal cavity back in one of his movies. A smaller and less painful approach involves radio frequency identification tags. The RFIDs are generally inserted into the meaty part of the hand between the thumb and forefinger. Kevin Warwick used the first wearable RFID back in 1998— to open doors and turn on other technology. He used the RFID for several days and now it is in the London Science Museum. I inserted hundreds of tags into fish dorsal fins during my time in fisheries. But I digress.

 

An even better, being less invasive, approach is using a smart phone. Employers can purchase programs that can track an employee’s cell phone. The employee can then download the necessary app as required onto their phone.

 

Our company is just starting to use Simple In/Out. This downloadable app allows our company to track an employee as they enter and leave the building. Fortunately, the Orwellian aspect actually ends there. The app does not track your movements outside of the building or track exactly where you are inside of the building.

 

The administrator for the program uses GPS to draw a simple shape around a point to determine the extent of the virtual boundary called a geofence. Part of the framework uses Blue tooth which is a low energy wireless transmission and easy on the phone battery. Crossing the geofence surrounding the building merely keeps track of when you enter and leave the building area. They might circle the nearest pizza joint, but that would be a bit invasive and unnecessary.

 

If the employer learns that an employee has the virus, then reports from the tracing program indicate who may have been in the building at the same time and potentially infected.

 

Authorities intend to develop further legalities surrounding geofencing. As you can imagine, geofencing has numerous applications beyond simply tracking employees and forms the basis for location-based advertising. Massachusetts just passed a law objecting to its use. The AG blocked an ad campaign set up by a Christian organization that set up a geofence surrounding women’s health clinics. The program would push out anti-abortion ads to those within the geofence area.

 

Canada has a number of privacy laws that apply to workplace monitoring and you have to determine what jurisdiction is governing your workplace. There is a common law right to privacy that protects ‘a biographical core’ of personal information that individuals would like to maintain. The Saskatchewan Court of appeal suggests that information ‘tending to reveal intimate details of the lifestyle and personal choices of the individual’ falls within this. The biographical core description would likely not include a situation where an employer merely tracks when an employee crosses an ethereal type of fence.

 

Employers should establish reasonable grounds for the collection of the information. Contract tracing which helps protect employees would certainly fall within this reasonableness category.

 

Employers should disclose monitoring activity. Once again, this is not an issue since employees must download and activate the app. This also covers the concept that if an employee downloads the app, he consents to the monitoring. A company needs to create a policy for program implementation and information use.

 

A question arises if an employee refuses to download or activate the program or simply refuses to charge up their phone. Again, better to get independent legal advice, but we could likely safely assume that the health and safety of staff are paramount and an employer could initiate a progressive discipline action against the staff person that refused. The employer’s duty to maintain a safe workplace supersedes an employee’s right to privacy when simply accessing the workplace.

 

The new normal seemingly does not include overwhelming Orwellian overtones.

 

#law #lawyer #covid

COVIDA LOCO

Woman in Grey Jacket Sits on Bed Uses Grey LaptopMost law firms have been lawyering the covida loco these past few months, and partners are encountering fundamental and rapid changes in the practice of law.

One major change has been the “free association” law firm. Previously unthought of, lawyers have been working remotely during this unsettling time. This has brought some profound revelations.

Experience revealed how well this has been working. Although a May 4, 2020 Clio briefing showed a 30-per-cent reduction in legal matters, clients are still coming in, meetings are being conducted, files are being filed, and there has been litigation. Lawyers always seem to do well in times of change. Boom times mean purchases, mergers, and new public offerings. Down times means sales, foreclosures and litigation over lack of disclosure around the public offerings.

The COVID-19 experience has ideally shown us how robust our information systems have been. With just about everyone accessing the network, some calls and meetings may not have proceeded as smoothly as one would have liked; but at least they happened.

A significant downside of the increase in online usage, however, has been a corresponding increase in phishing and other socially engineered attacks. Although your IT department may be marvelling at its impenetrable firewalls, it is always the human element that will continue to be the weak link.

One surprise may be the increase in productivity and billable hours during these past few months. The enterprise software company Aternity’s analysis from Feb. 24 through March 26, using its Remote Work Productivity Tracker, showed a 25-per-cent increase in employee productivity generally. One can assume the reduced commute time has been used as effectively as possible — or perhaps staff have just been working harder to show how well the remote office does work.

Of course, we cannot ignore the potential Hawthorne effect. In 1924, Western Electric in Chicago announced that they would increase the lighting in one of its factories, Hawthorne Works, in order to improve productivity. When the lighting was increased, productivity increased. Eventually other health benefits were provided and productivity increased again, even after the light levels were returned to where they had started.

Researchers then determined that workers were in part responding positively to the increased attention being paid to their workplace, and that listening to the concerns of staff provided the most productivity gains. So just be mindful if productivity gains in the firm show up merely in the short term. Ensuring long-term gains requires, interestingly enough, measuring things for the long term.

 

Another revelation has been the potential to reduce downtown office space. Law firm accountants may be too quick in counting the possible gains as they contemplate the “new normal” of working at home and reducing office costs. Yet although half of the staff may be enjoying the remote office, the other half are starting to have serious concerns.

Working from home can have a serious impact on staff morale. The isolation and reduced human contact may eventually take its toll on overall productivity. There may be increased turnover as some gravitate back to a more traditional law office with in-person mentorship. Although remote work has always been seen as a perk, many do not see it that way.

Remote work affects corporate culture. This includes the way things get done and how people interact. The culture may persist in the short term as you continue to interact with people that you have known for years. You can apply previous social interactions to flesh out the reduced present ones. However, as more time passes, soon you will be Zooming with people you have never met and may never meet. Pleasantries will continue but deeper working networks may diminish somewhat.

This would become a major concern for legal operations and overall knowledge management. Knowledge can be found throughout the law firm, but a substantial portion of this knowledge is found within the lawyers themselves, and is often gleaned from them by wandering around and sticking a head into another’s office to ask a question. This transfer of knowledge between senior and junior lawyers forms an important portion of each other’s overall development, and this knowledge exchange may be diminished in the present state of remote work.

All this could lead into a greater long-term failing: reduced innovation. Any innovation is the end product of a series of other steps including inspiration, creativity, motivation, entrepreneurship, and finally innovation.

Interacting with others can feed into each one of these steps as we each learn what is happening in the legal field, what has worked and, just as important, what has not. Inspiration can be triggered by seeing other bits and pieces of what others have done, leading to creating something new. Most motivation comes from within, but external motivators are helpful. The same applies to entrepreneurship. However, by the time the firm notices that innovation is declining, it may be severely behind the curve.

A strong argument can therefore be made for retaining some office structure where people may still interact face-to-face in a physically distant but intellectually and emotionally intimate way. This may mean alternating days within the office, and mixing staff around so they get exposed to new ideas and tacit knowledge.

As difficult as it may seem, steps need to be taken to ensure that law firms stay as human as possible.

 

photo by Pexel

#law #covid

More COVID-19 behaviours

pexels-photo-696287 barberStill getting used to the new normal.

My wife and engaged in a new activity for the first time. I guess all new activities are first time activities, and there is a bit of redundancy there. But all in fine.

She actually cut my hair. And not with the dog grooming razor. A real human being razor. I had this grooming kit back from when I had a beard, for the second time. All I can say is that I don’t want to talk about it further. At least further than I already have.

Admittedly, I took the first run at it. Mainly doing the back and sides. I had longer hair in collage, but that was the seventies. Being almost in my seventies has a whole different connotation. I did a lot of by feel, and constant repetition.

She was slightly bemused at the result. So she took pity on me and smoothed out the rough edges. Of which there were many.

I am not sure we intend to do this on a go forward basis to save money. As they say, the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is two weeks of self-isolation.

I didn’t offer to do my spouse’s hair since a bad job would set me up for 4 weeks of quarantine.

 

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New COVID-19 Behaviours

pexels-photo-1005638 cartHow does the new normal feel? Are you starting to fall into a groove, or does it feel more like a ditch with no ends?

I’m starting to get the hang of things. In our local grocery store, they are sterilizing all of the cart handles. This causes a socially distant line up outside during the weekends. So I go during the week.

All of the aisles have a one way direction on the floor. So if you see that rare batch of yeast just a few feet in an aisle, but you have to go the wrong way, what do you do. Do you take the risk and do the right thing and hurry down one aisle and go up properly on the yeast aisle. But how many of you have simply gone backwards and backed up to the yeast for example. How many times have you seen this happen.

It would be faster to simply abandon the cart for a moment and simply walk forward the wrong way in a one way aisle? Or you try to hope no one notices as you try to back up?

Is it easier if no one is in the aisle? How far are you prepared to back up. It seems four feet is easy to do. Forty feet seems way too far. So somewhere between those two numbers you could seemingly get away with it.

All bets are off if you have to pass someone doing this. They will look at you with a steely gaze hoping to freeze your heart. The braver types will likely say something.

I have to say that I personally would back up a total of 14 feet backwards only if no one else was in the aisle. That seems like a good compromise.

 

 

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