Re-Inventing Retirement: The first secret you must discover

Shraon Rolph

I was recently delighted to read John Izzo’s book, The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die. It is a wonderful mix of personal, storytelling and reflective wisdom as he shares what he learned during his research. He asked people who were living a happy life, “What are the secrets?”

Death is a poignant topic in today’s era. But I had two reasons for reading it. One is my own research for speaking I hope to start doing. Second was, as a behavioral scientist, is there a chance we could live smarter, younger? A point John learned early in his research was that around 60 years of age is when people tend to become more reflective, resulting in more wisdom!

I’m currently in a bit of a pivot in my coaching to engage more people prior to retiring, due to the significant shift of people changing jobs and careers now. We are embracing more diversity in our culture, so being unique is tending to be more widely accepted. And a key to Essence.

Multi-generational communities and activities are popping up. So, I’m going to cautiously believe we could be smarter younger. My current work ties into the first secret very beautifully: Be true to yourself. Are you aware that failure to do so is also a major regret heard by hospice nurses from the dying?

John ends this first secret with a story from a 71-year-old professor who saw a “chasm” of difference between his students who followed their heart and those who did not. Are you one who says, someday I’ll follow my heart? Are you the person you want to be in the world? Are you following your heart right now? What would it mean for you to really follow your heart?

I’ve been asking a similar question that, although not as easy to connect with as be true to yourself, is related: Who are you when you are at your best? Yet, I believe the answers are closely tied together. The essence creation process integrates the heart and your inner wisdom to design life, in a better way.

I know so many people, sometimes myself included, who are glassy-eyed at the question of what makes us happy. Our country was founded on the pursuit of happiness. Or did you forget that?

How would you help someone discover what’s true to being themselves? Remember, that key of reflection resulting in wisdom? In what way could you learn something about being true to your heart using reflection? Or help your son, daughter or grandchild reflect on their week, their events to calmly consider what made their heart hurt or swell?

I am delighted that employees are becoming courageous enough to take the leap of faith to work from anywhere, and to have balance between work and contentment. Bravo!

People find the Essence creation process “very affirming” and “help you discover yourself” and a “roadmap for my life forward.” After I retired and didn’t know if my days were “productive,” when I’d review my Essence, I found living from it made every day feel “right.”

— By Sharon Rolph

Sharon Rolph is an Essence & Retirement coach who lives in Edmonds and aspires to be an international speaker. Her new book, Fresh Courage in Retirement: finding purpose, Essence and fulfillment, is now available. Learn more at


  1. I consider myself very lucky to have found purpose in my avocation of helping bring th lost and missing home. Waking up every morning happy and looking forward to the day ahead is a privilege. Read about my journey in A Dogs Devotion: True Adventures of a K9 Search and Rescue Team (Suzanne

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