I’ll be writing about them from time to time, starting with this post which kicks off my thoughts on the book Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy.
In summary the book is about creating a great retirement by “outsmarting the 9 forces trying to steal your joy.” kind of like the subtitle says. Hahahaha.
What are those nine forces? Well, you’ll have to keep reading to find that out.
That’s the top level summary, but let’s hear from the book itself — how it describes what it’s about.
We’ll begin with this section from the introduction:
Many people who are well prepared financially fail to plan as well for how they’ll invest their most valuable asset – their time. It’s easy to put off, and it may require stepping out of their comfort zone. Planning for how you’ll live your future life takes a different mindset. It’s a right-brain process. It’s qualitative, non-linear, and intuitive. It takes imagination. Risks are to be explored.
See what I love about it? 😉
I have said time and time again that there are two sides of creating a great retirement — the money/financial side and the life/time side.
Ninety-five percent of the retirement books out there deal with the money side of retirement.
Ninety-five percent of pre-retirees are almost exclusively worried about, “Do I have enough money to retire?”
Neither of these cover/think about the time/life side of retirement. And why should they? After all, anyone can “figure it out” as they go, right? What’s there to plan for — you just do what you want, right?
Uh, no. It’s actually not that easy.
It seems that easy because when you’re working you have limited free time. So filling the little free time you get is pretty easy. And you’re happy to fill it — it means more fun and less work.
But when the available free time is endless, the excitement can wane and the “what do I do now?” factor can set in quickly.
That’s why a book like this is important — to help you think about and plan for the life side of retirement in a way that makes your retirement amazing.
As if covering the life side of retirement isn’t enough, the book says this in the introduction as well:
Retirement now often include some form of “work,” such as a part-time job, consulting, volunteering, or creative endeavors. But the most significant change is that retirement is being reframed. Retirement used to be viewed as a period of withdrawal and decline. Now it’s seen as being a period of renewal, engagement, meaningful pursuits, and personal growth. Such change requires a whole new approach to retirement planning, one that addresses the emotional aspects and helps you get smarter about aging well.
Love this too!
First of all, I 100% support the idea that working in retirement is a thing. I’ll actually be covering that more in an upcoming post.
Second, it’s also true that retirement has moved on from what grandpa did (play golf, go bowling, then die two years later) to what today’s retirees are doing (living it up big time in The Villages! Hahaha.)
Seriously, I don’t know many people who withdraw and hide during retirement but I do know hundreds who are exploring all sorts of new, fun activities once they quit working. Yes, that’s somewhat biased based on where we live, of course.
It’s actually pretty cool to see “old people” (like me) making the most of life and I’m glad that’s what retirement is like these days. I would have hated the old-school retirement.
Next the book tells who it’s for as follows:
This book is for people who want to enjoy life, but who also want more out of life after their full-time careers. It’s for people who aren’t done just yet and know they have more left in the tank. It’s for people who are curious about how their skills, experience, and wisdom can be redirected in new ways to benefit others while preserving the flexibility retirement promises.
It’s also for the retiree who’s looking for an upgrade when retirement isn’t what they expected. It’s for the one who’s comfortably nestled in first class in their financial life but feel stuck in a middle seat in coach in their day-to-day life. It’s for the couple who hasn’t talked about their hopes and concerns about retirement but who know they should. It’s for the reader who’s been forced to retire earlier than expected and needs to figure out a new path forward.
To me the book is for anyone who wants to plan for and create an awesome retirement life.
That could be someone working towards retirement, someone who just retired today, or someone who’s been retired for many years.
IMO this book should be part of the standard reading for anyone contemplating retirement. And I could even break into my list of must-read retirement books.
That’s it for the introduction. Does it sound good to you?
If so, stick around because now we’re going to hit the highlights of chapter 1.
The Retirement Opponents
In chapter 1 they start to introduce the concept of the nine opponents who are trying to ruin your retirement.
We begin with this:
When you’re graduating from the world of full-time work, you’ll need to create a new scorecard. You’ve got to define what winning will be for you now. Only you can decide that. What most people have in common is that they want these last chapters in life to be meaningful. It will be different for each person. But to win the Retirement Game, just like any game, you’ll have to beat some opponents along the way. Some people who aren’t well prepared don’t know who their opponents are until they’re face to face with them in retirement.
We’ll see what you think of the “opponents” you’ll face as we discuss them. But to me, this part is a bit overstated.
Let’s just focus on finding a great set of activities that makes retirement awesome for a person. That’s a win in my book.
And this book actually does that. But to be different/unique it introduces the “opponents” line of thinking which isn’t really needed IMO. But here we are.
I can imagine some editor somewhere convincing the author that the book needed a “spin” and that’s how we ended up with the opponents idea. We’ll see what you think of it as we go through the series.
BTW, whether you like it or not, the actual content and thinking is pretty good, which is what makes the book a good read.
It goes on:
Many people fail to see the transition to retirement as a significant life event. Many people don’t realize it’s one of the 10 most stressful ones you’ll encounter in life, according to the American Institute of Stress’s Holmes-Rahn Stress Inventory. It demands you adapt to new realities, and a lot of things change when you leave your job.
For those interested, here are the top 10 stressors:
1. Death of a spouse
3. Marital separation
4. Being incarcerated
5. Death of a close family member
6. Major personal injury or illness
8. Being fired or laid off from work
9. Marital reconciliation
Look at how many are related to marriage! Numbers 1, 2, 3, 5 (sort of), 7, and 9 are all related to marriage in some way. It makes me think that you could avoid a lot of stress in life if you didn’t get married. Don’t tell my wife! LOL!
Heaven forbid you lose your job one day and are forced to retire…then a day later your spouse leaves you and files for divorce making you deathly ill. And when the spouse comes to check on you they catch what you have and die. Then somehow you’re blamed for it, prosecuted, and sent to prison. That would be really stressful!
But I digress…
Here’s what the article above says about retirement being stressful:
Although many of us look forward to our retirement, it can cause you to feel upheaved. When you’re used to working, it might be difficult to adjust to retirement. You might experience social isolation and a loss of purpose. You might also miss your routine and the excitement of working towards a goal.
That’s pretty accurate…if you don’t plan for retirement.
Which is why you need a life plan for what to do once you stop working.
Which is why you need to keep following this series and/or get this book. 😉
Next the book gets to the heart of the matter in a short amount of time:
All new retirees are time rich. The question is: how will you invest that time?
Do you have an answer to this question?
If not, this series will help.
In addition, I’m working on another series (not a book series, one I’m writing on my own) discussing the top retirement activities everyone should at least consider (and most should do to be quite honest). If nothing else, doing those few things in retirement will almost guarantee you have a great one.
So you won’t want to miss that!
Feeling Loss from Leaving Work
In what’s left of this chapter the book covers several issues people face in retirement starting with this one:
There’s a loss when you leave the workplace. Some losses are obvious right off the bat. Others creep up on you. But at some point or another, you’ll feel a sense of loss. For example, most people describe themselves by what they do for a living. Once that’s gone, the question becomes, who am I now? There’s also a loss of the structure to your days, weeks, months, and years that work gave you. For many people, especially men, there’s a loss of social contact and camaraderie when they move away from full-time work. Finally, there’s a loss of purpose. What’s the driving force for me now?
I never felt the “loss” of leaving my career. Unless the author means the loss of stress, the loss of doing what someone else tells you to do, and the loss of not being able to control your time. If that’s what he means, then I guess I did have loss! Hahaha.
Seriously, I did not miss work for one second. I was so happy to be out of there and in control of my life, I was giddy.
I will admit that the first week was strange. It was kind of unsettling because it wasn’t normal. After doing one thing (going to work) for 30 years, stopping it was really “different.”
But once the realization hit that I was FREE, it was the most amazing feeling. I got up well before 5 am for at least two years after I retired because I was just so excited by life.
I never felt that what I did was the same as who I was, so I never felt the loss of identity or purpose that the above says many people have.
I also tended to socialize with family and friends outside of work, so I didn’t feel a loss of social contact.
I will say that I did lose my routine, but I also managed to establish a new (and much more fun) routine pretty quickly.
That’s actually been a challenge down here in The Villages — getting in a routine. I think it’s difficult here because when you live in a resort it’s basically designed NOT to be routine.
Anyway, it’s something I’m working on. But I wouldn’t say it’s a loss or bad enough that I hate life…just something I like and want to re-establish.
Next is this:
Some people fall into the trap of thinking retirement equals vacation. It’s so easy to slip into vacation mode. However, after a while, some people realize vacation mode is not well suited for the length of retirement today, and they want more out of life.
This is The Villages. It’s always vacation mode here and it’s not well suited in many ways for the length of retirement today. It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve had living here…and something I’m still working on.
For some reason Colorado seemed more like “normal life” and The Villages feels more like “vacation life.”
Then there’s this:
Another differentiator is the attitude people bring to retirement. Those who thrive are optimistic, yet realistic.
The people who struggle have a different mindset. They concentrate more on the problems than the opportunities.
If you’re willing to try new things, it gives you a big advantage.
If you’re positive and open to trying new things, you’ll probably do well in retirement.
For example, I was open enough to try a new game called pickleball in retirement and look what that has opened up for me.
But if you’re a Negative Nelly and don’t like to try new things, retirement life is probably going to be pretty hard on you.
The book summarizes chapter 1 with the following takeaways:
- Retirement is one of life’s most stressful events. It’s a significant life transition and has a big emotional component. Retirees face changes in status, identity, purpose, and practical challenges, such as structuring their time independently. Preparing for these changes can make the transition much smoother.
- There are things to bring to your retirement besides your 401k. A vision for this new phase of your life and a positive attitude can become your most valuable assets.
- Only you can decide what fulfillment is for you. Define your new scorecard based on what matters most to you.
- Be open to new experiences. Seek out opportunities to try new things. It will add variety to your life, and you may just develop a new interest and new relationships. You’ve earned the right to retire, but it doesn’t automatically come with wisdom. You have to earn that too, and it begins with being open to new experiences.
Thoughts on these:
- Yes, retirement is a big decision (probably the biggest financial decision you’ll ever make) and it’s stressful for several reasons. This is all the more reason you need to be planning for it well ahead of your actual retirement day — making sure you have the money to retire as well as have plans to spend your time that will make it worthwhile.
- If you have those handful of activities that you like/love and will allow you to have a full retirement life AND if you’re willing to try new things (in case some activities get boring or fall by the wayside), then you will probably crush retirement. Oh, and you need to have a positive attitude (which is easy if you realize you’re FREE from work!!!)
- Just like personal finances, retirement is completely personal, so you need to create a plan that works for YOU. Some people may work, others may not. Some may travel, others may not. Some may throw themselves into this hobby while others do that hobby. The key is to find what makes you happy and do that.
- You really need to be open to new ideas and activities. I know, it can be a struggle for some. It’s a struggle for me (I like what I like after all and don’t want anything else.) But I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone many times down here in The Villages and while I haven’t found that one, new activity that I couldn’t live without, I have learned a lot and have been happy to do so. And…I’ll keep trying new things.
Finally, there’s one more thing I want to note about the book before we close this post: The book’s author is not retired. He’s an executive coach.
That doesn’t mean the book isn’t good, but it isn’t all it could be as the author doesn’t have the real-life insight into retirement that actual retirees have.
Just an FYI I wanted to let you know about.
That’s it for this time. To keep reading this series, check out Win the Retirement Game, Fighting Boredom.