I first met Nell Smith in a coffee bar in The Hague when she was visiting her daughter, my friend, Colleen Reichrath-Smith. I knew Colleen well and we were already working on the fourth edition of Career in Your Suitcase. Colleen is a career consultant who grew up in Canada and has married a Dutchman and settled here. Then I met her mom. Nell is also a career consultant but she grew up in Holland and met a Canadian man and settled there. She, like Colleen, is passionate about her work. Peas in a pod, chips off the old block and other clichés come to mind, but you know, they are an impressive pair and boy, they know how to write and speak about their specialist topic.
Almost three years since that ‘cappuccino meeting’, Nell’s book is out and is a testament to her incredible network and knowledge. Whether you are already retired or it’s on the horizon, you need this book. It’s about finding meaning and is crammed with practical ideas. I loved it.
JP: Tell us about Retire to the Life You Love. What is it about? Can you describe it in just a few sentences?
NS: Retire to the Life You Love is a fresh, energizing approach to the next chapter of your life. It’s a how-to book you can use to get inspiration, clarity, and confidence for living this long life phase true to who you are as a unique human being; it guides you to being intentional in choosing those options that are most joyful and important to you. It gives you the practical tools to design it, your way.
JP: Why did you write the book?
NS: The book is a natural outcome of the workshop I developed more than 20 years ago to help my husband who was retiring figure out what could be next for him. I still facilitate this evolving workshop for employees of organizations. Because of requests, I developed a train the trainer program so others could use my models and tools in their own coaching, facilitating, and speaking practices. I wrote the book to make the tools that have helped countless of men and women available to the general public.
JP: Why do you think it needed to be written?
NS: This book needed to be written because so many people don’t know where to get help to figure out what they want to do or what’s even possible for this life stage. I already had the guide with the models and tools and I wanted to get the word out to as many people as possible that you can create new meaning and purpose in your life and that it’s not too late to live the life you love.
JP: Who do you think will read Retire to the Life You Love? Who would you like to read the book?
NS: All the men and women who are feeling uncertain about their options and who want to be inspired and energized to live an enriched second half of life. All those who need or want to keep working or who wonder who they are when they are no longer working. All those already retired who feel that something is missing. All those who want to find a new purpose and meaning for their lives at any age.
JP: What steps have you taken (or do you plan to take) to promote Retire to the Life You Love. Which methods do you think work best and can you give any examples?
JP: How did you choose your publisher and publishing method? Why did you decide to take this route?
NS: I needed to know the book would be published before I had the confidence to seriously continue writing it. The stories I heard from authors about peddling a book to publishers and receiving rejections was very discouraging. My daughter was co-authoring a book with Jo. On her advice, I connected and met with Jo. When Jo agreed that my book needed to see the light of day, I really did not explore further. I like the fact that Jo will bring international attention to it through her expat network. I hadn’t known about this method of publishing – a hybrid of author self-publishing with publisher stewardship.
JP: What was your biggest challenge regarding the writing of Retire to the Life You Love? How did you overcome that?
NS: Once I knew it would actually be published, I had to find my voice again after my thinking had evolved over the many years of sporadic writing.
I am a member of the local chapter of the Independent Publishing Association. I attended about 4 meetings and thanks to the people I met, I was encouraged to try finish the book before I spoke at a national conference 4 months later, as so much of it had already been done. The book has all the tools that I have been using in my workshops for years (plus additional ones, all expanded with examples and stories). And I had been writing pieces of the book for years already.
However, when I started the integration process, I found none of it worked together as I had hoped. I had to rewrite the narrative parts in the more personalized voice and tone I wanted to use. I found myself weaving my own story and examples into the book as well, along with the real life examples of people I know or work with, or people who were participants in my workshops.
It all became much more work than I had anticipated and by pulling up my sleeves and committing to give priority focus to this process, it got done. I cleared the decks and wrote seriously every morning for about 3-4 hours, until it was completed – though unfortunately not in time for the conference as I had hoped. I took names and email addresses instead of those who wanted to know when the book would be released.
JP: Now you have written this book, what has writing it done for you? (your family, your self-esteem, your business…)
NS: At this point it’s too early to tell. The book seems to have taken over my life for now. I’m busier than ever and I was already busy. I plan to recreate more balance again once the next months of promoting and speaking are over. Throughout the writing, I maintained some of my calming practices of tai chi, yoga, meditation, and coffee chats with friends. All those have helped to keep me grounded. What I’m very encouraged by is how well the book has been received by early reviewers. I hope with good online reviews and word of mouth, the ball will mostly keep rolling on its own.
JP: If you were to give advice to someone else who is thinking about writing a book of this nature, what would be your number one tip?
NS: Have a group of supporters in your corner who will keep encouraging you with practical suggestions for those times you get stuck. And a husband who fills in the household gaps while you focus on writing your book.
JP: Anything else you’d like to add?
NS: My passion is to help people choose a life direction that is personally meaningful, joyful, or important to them. The bigger message is that individually and collectively, the large generation currently retiring has an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference for the greater good of society.
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