Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - 5th December 2015


"After-Work Transition Planning"
(at Bonnet Bay)

"Baby Boomers" are eschewing the :R" word -
redefining "retirement" (where work grinds to a halt),
to create a proactive plan for the life we want to lead -
not just work, but also a balance of family and relationships,
health, recreation, mind, spirituality, interests and community.

Led by Mr Robert James

Our seminar
was graciously hosted once again, by the congenial Pauline, Gavan and Carlton at "Clifftop View". 

GS Diary
In the spirit of "applying general semantics principles" to our lives, as opposed to dwelling in theory, we considered members' accounts of observations and applications relating to the principles and formulations of our discipline.


Remember that we worked on this before: See Laurie's Seminar September 2012: "Managing Life's Transitions".  So we reviewed and developed the issues almost four years later ...

AGS “Life’s Transitions” - Homework Exercise-1


Hello all,


I hope that we're all looking forwards to our discussion on Saturday:


Could I suggest that we do a little homework in the next few days - Let's have a look back to our seminar of three years ago (as below).  I also have communications with Milton Dawes to contribute.


Please read the account of our "Seminar in September 2012", see if you can recall the event, and consider some of the questions raised / progress / triumphs-and-tragedies since then.  It would be nice if we can practise some time-binding process by building on what we did then, rather than "starting from scratch" again!


Homework-1: Some Responses:


An interesting challenge ... We have changed a lot since that meeting.


I still have the "To-Do List" whiteboard from that event!


Yes, I agree it can feel a bit frustrating to teach something and hope to build on it, yet after 15 years we are still forgetting the basics.  So getting onto interesting things like applications of Korzybski's expectation theory seem beyond our group.  To me this could be my example of a “tragedy.” 


Another would be the miscommunication / distortion of examples taught like the Olympic medallist example below.  Reminds me of the story of a fisherman who caught a fish and at each telling about it by friends, it got bigger.  Maybe this is how the 7 loaves and 7 fishes feed hundreds...


I remember the AGS session you describe as the last one that Laurie taught.  This event happening, I saw, with the wisdom of hindsight, as a miscommunication from what I said to Laurie.  And I was amazed that someone came all the way from Melbourne for the seminar.


Yes, in the early days of GS some of the members treated it like a cult.  Supposedly they only lasted 6 months and then they went off to join Scientology instead.  But not before leaving a negative impression that Martin Garner reported on.


I’m not much of a fan of Eckhart Tolle as I find his writing highly abstract (vague and ambiguous) and he uses elementalisms.


I’m afraid I remember gaining nothing significant from Laurie’s seminar.  Hopefully I might do better at yours on Saturday.


Homework-2: Some Responses:


Hello again,


Thank you for your responses to my preliminary questions for Saturday.


In case you think that the hard work has already been done, can I ask you to consider some further questions (below), please.  All this can be considered in the context of "transitions to/through/beyond retirement", but are certainly not limited to that application.  Many of the "baby boomers" don't even like to use the "R-word", but think more non-elementalistically in terms of "lifestype transitions", "sea-changes" ... etc.!


1. What are some of the important events/transitions that have occurred in your life?  To what extent have these related to your decisions, or when have they been "imposed on you"?


2. When making these decisions, to what extent have you attempted / succeeded / failed to apply time-binding principles; clearly seeking the best outcome and maintaining awareness of dangers like

  * wallowing in "allness" when considering what's "right" or "wrong",

  * considering complex matters elementalistically,

  * errors in "mapping the territory",

  * confusing the levels of abstraction,

  * missing the dating-and-indexing process,

  * forgetting to add the "etc" for eg factors influencing an outcome,

  * identification of labels with realities,

  * . etc, etc .


3. Can you highlight some decisions which have been assisted by application of these principles?


4. To what extent have been your plans and decisions been motivated by principle rather than pragmatism (eg: "I don't kill people because life is sacred." rather than "I don't kill people because I might be caught and penalised.") ?


5. If you think back five or ten years, does it seem like a long time?

    If you think forward five or ten years, does that seem like a long time?

    Can you imagine how your life is likely to go in that time?


6. What are some of the important events that are likely to occur for you in the next ten years?


7. What planning / preparation / decision-making do you need to undertake over this time?


8. . etc .


Thank you for your engagement with our process here!



Homework-2: Some suggestions on Transition-Tensions:


1. Childhood

Birth of sibling

Death of family member

Death of friend

Death of associate - at work or social etc.


Loss of family member, eg kids go away, kids alienated

Loss of friend - relationship breakdown or move away


2. School

Starting school







3. Community life

Joys and sorrows of engagement

Feeling of worth, achievement

Burden of responsibilities

Groups come and go and change: Gain and lose friends


4. Environment

Demographics change, eg neighbours at Lakemba

Modernisation, eg old houses being replaced by home units, old pub disappeared

Community strife - Warfare


5. Personal

Learning and insights

Sense of fulfilment / disappointments


6. Employment


First job

Change of job

Loss/gain of work associate




Loss/change of career expectation


7. Adult Family


Girl/boy friend

Romance, courting

Engagement, marriage

Changing relationship in marriage

Separation, divorce

Death of spouse


8. Children



Their friends - influence

Their employment

Their health

Oscar Wilde: "Children will usually love their parents, but seldom forgive them. "


9. Health

Natural deficiencies/disabilities

Labelling attributes, eg "I'm only a man / woman / child / young / old / Aspergers, ... ", etc.

Accidents, illnesses (unexpected)


Decline of hearing, sight, mobility


10. Habits, routines





Treatment of others

Attitude to work

Influence of parents, siblings, kids, spouse, friends and colleagues etc.


11. Home

Moving away from parents, then maybe back in again!

Sharing a home with "friends"

First renting

First "own home" purchase

Finance burden

Buying, selling, renting


Moving house

House (and contents etc) destroyed by bushfire, eg our friend Ross W.



"Transitions"- A Contribution from Milton Dawes:


1. Explore this with the question: "How, what was your approach to work.?"


Responses to the question can give clues to their approach to retirement – We explored this.


I myself thought of work along these lines: "A job allowed me to have the money to do things I liked to do. I enjoyed work to the degree that it satisfied a concern to "do my best". And to be honest, I prefer thinking about and seeking to understand goings on in Universe at many levels, than I do working." So now that I am not working I can pursue these interests as I like. 


3. As you mentioned, over the years I have explored many arenas (body building (which I still do), playing harmonica in a rock-an'- roll band, ballet and modern creative dancing, teaching African drumming, general semantics, (writing, facilitating seminar-workshops), and others). I mention this since I have found that a potentially stressful aspect of the change from daily work to lots of personal times revolves around questions such as: "So what do I do now?, How do I spend the days, and pass the times? How useful can I be? or "I feel so useless now". I had always valued my personal times even while working. If participants were not valuing their times while working...It's not late: They now have the times so to do -- being careful to not value others' (societies values) more than they value their own values.      


So you might explore the terms "useless" and "useful" with participants. Let them expand on the terms and express what they mean by "useless" and "useful". And at the end, you could remind them that after their years of being useful, they have earned and do deserve some times for themselves to use as they please. 


3. As you might have already guessed, the many concerns regarding retirement have not been a problem for me since based on my many explorations mentioned earlier on, I have many pleasant memories, and learned a great deal from each which play a big part on my approach to the retirement situation -- especially since my engagements were not based on stressful competitions, but simply doing things I enjoyed doing. And most importantly: I did not identify myself with my job or titles. The things I did, and the labels applied to me were not me. And I recognized this. Too many individuals had (and probably still do) identified with their jobs and titles.


RJ note: My supervisor: "I don't care what you call me, as long as you don't call me late for dinner."


4. Questions which you could explore with participants (allow them to find their own answers and probably learn from each other’s answers) are


"If that (identification) was what I had been doing "How do I now regain myself?"


"What things can I now do; what arenas can I now explore, etc., that the job and career did not allow me the times to do.?"


Do I have to do anything else besides what I want to do? "AND IF THAT'S "NOTHING" for "What reasons should I feel guilty? 


(You might remind participants about "identification" along these lines: In identifying "We are one with. There is no separation, no distinction between me and whatever I am identifying with (this also involves "allness".).


No "self" left over to say "This is me. And I am not that object of my concern." Disidentifying also applies to the retirement situation. "How I feel about retirement is "how I feel". As such, with tools (like those offered by g.s.) I can feel other ways. 


5. See the attached article "Management of Change"  I wrote some years ago. I hope the above and the article will be of some help. As you might have noticed, my approach is mainly based on what is called "bottom up development" -- an aspect of "Socratic approach": Lead participants to discover stuff for themselves. I think they will have a grand time and you will feel some degree of satisfaction yourself. 



There was much discussion on all of the above.  Some were passionate about the great real and potential impact on their lives - Others asked "What's all the fuss about ... ?  

Business Meeting

The usual: Plans for wrapping-up the year:
Dates and places of meetings, international liaisons, high finance etc. 

Next Meeting:

The 2016 Programme is under development, and will be announced shortly.

"Watch this space"!

WritingThis is a "living document", subject to ongoing evolution as recollections re-emerge from our memories of the event, and are re-evaluated in light of ongoing experience and reflection.  It will never be "the full truth and nothing but the truth", or "a map that expresses everyone's notion of the territory"!

Disclaimer: This "summary" is a collection of notes derived from our discussion by a number of means.  It is by no means a scholarly dissertation on the subject as presented.  It does not purport to be the "policy of AGS".  Comment and criticism (constructive or otherwise) is welcome.  If anyone has been misquoted, copyrights infringed or confidences betrayed, please Contact us.



Updated by RJ 31 Dec 2015

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