Baby Boomer Retirement Plans Missing Crucial Piece

From my blog on US News & World

Advice to prepare for a satisfying retirement typically focuses on the financial side of the equation. Carefully constructed formulas calculate a target amount you will need to save to draw against in retirement based on your expenses, investments, personal life style, and expected years to live. Without this financial security it will be challenging to live any kind of satisfying retirement.

[See The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2012.]

But there is an equally important side of retirement preparation that is often neglected during the planning process. You also need to address the non-financial aspects of retirement. It is important to determine what you will do to live a fulfilling life as a retiree. Beyond just keeping busy, you need a plan to find meaning during the last third of your lifetime. Here are seven important questions to address before you retire.

What are you passionate about? Since you are no longer tied to a job, you can do what you really want to do. But first you need to know what that is. You will be better prepared to retire if you identify a new passion, rather than struggling to figure it out after retiring.

Would you like to continue working in some capacity? If you do, try to set up a second career before leaving your full time job. Having a clear direction helps focus your efforts and improves your odds of success.













Will you retire in your current location or move? If you plan to move, where would you like to go? Before you retire, take the time to identify what is important to you in a retirement location. Also, research the necessities, including neighborhoods, downtowns, restaurants, medical availability, public transportation, senior activities and centers, and proximity to recreation, so that you can make an informed decision.

[See Retiring Baby Boomers Will Change Rules of Hiring.]

Do you have enough interests and hobbies to avoid driving your spouse crazy? Separate interests that allow you to spend some time apart can improve the quality of the time you and your spouse spend together. Try out some of your interests now to see if you can sustain them once you retire. Also, determine whether your hobbies will be enough to keep you fulfilled in retirement or if you will need to add new things to do.

Where do you want to travel? Make a list of the places you want to see and how often you want to travel and prioritize them with input from your spouse.

How will you deal with physical limitations? Start to build a support system for a time when you can’t perform certain activities yourself.

Do you plan on leaving an inheritance? If not, your discretionary income just grew.

[See Why Baby Boomers Will Have a Great Retirement.]

Retirement planning is more than just financial. What we do in our retirement days to fill the hours, engage our mind, and find meaning will be just as important to our retirement happiness as making sure our finances are in order.

Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.

“Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?” Book Review

Re-Post of review by Warren Lieberman on his blog 65 And Alive
Dave Bernard’s “Are you just existing and calling it a life?” ends with the following passage:

You will only live this day once. When you look back did you live it well? If you can say yes you should sleep well knowing that tomorrow is another day wherein you will again have chance to life it well. Enjoy the journey…”

Bernard’s latest book contains fourteen short chapters on how to live this day well and this life well. His book is an exhortation for the reader (or participant in life as I prefer to call the reader) to find his or her passion, which then will be the guide for the actions that fill your days and lives.

The search for passion is a lifetime adventure; subject to detours and modifications, as we know that “Man makes plans and God laughs.” But without direction, goals and hopes we will drift hopelessly and be miserable. If you are searching for a purpose in life then reach for this book, if you are happy with your state of mind then reach for the TV remote instead.

Bernard opens the book with a challenge for us to identify our passions, those things that will drive us for a lifetime. Just find them, easy to say, but hard to do. He writes that he has “some questions” for us to answer to help in this process. I laughed when I read the list on the next page and looked back at his reference to “some questions.” There are seventeen initially, and many more throughout his book. Thankfully, he doesn’t expect us to answer them all at one review; he gives the leisure of setting our own pace for the answers. The questions are short but the drive to the heart of the quest: what are you passionate about? No multiple-choice answers, Bernard wants your answers.

The subsequent chapters focus on various topics to use as a guide to find your passions. He utilizes pertinent quotes and brief thoughts as a starting point for the questions in each chapter. And the book is full of questions designed to flesh out your passion. Each chapter ends with “takeaways.” These takeaways are concrete statements and suggestions to actually find and implement the particular passion discussed in the chapter.

Some of the chapter topics could be changed to fit your style or interests. For example Bernard extols the benefits of fishing in some detail and with fervor in Chapter 12. You could substitute hiking, hunting, bird watching or camping just as effectively. Other chapter topics are more universal and ring true: work, family, good health and retirement.

Bernard’s presentation of his concept of passion search requires the reader to disregard the format of the book. Quotes intermixed with text, questions galore and chapter ending “takeaways” slow the reader down. Rereading and thinking are required, but this is not necessarily bad just different. In fact, reading slow and thoughtfully is an advantage when considering this short book deals with our entire working career and retirement activities.

I read the chapter on work three times and thought about my own career twists. Our goal is to find a career that we are passionate about is task that may take a lifetime. But Bernard encourages us to keep striving to find that career that gives us purpose. More importantly, he gives us suggestions that will help the reader with that search. He knows that it is unrealistic to expect a person entering the workforce to know what he or she wants to do for the next 20, 30 or more years.

I found myself wandering through several careers after I graduated college. Each career choice was a step in a journey. For me I found not a single field but a type of work that fulfilled me. In my case, it was not a single industry but the position that allowed me to interact with people and help them was most satisfying. I was a schoolteacher for several years, a manager of a wholesale plumbing company, a salesman, and an administrator of a religious institution. Each of these jobs was completely different on the surface but at the core I was doing the same thing. I helped people grow, solve problems and experience a meaningful life through my efforts.

Bernard’s “takeaways” in the chapter on work recognizes that people will change careers and gives the reader tools and suggestions for making the changes. Tools to allow the participant in life to move forward with each change and follow that passion into retirement.

This book requires thinking and assigns us the task of answering thoughtful questions about our life. He doesn’t ask you to score your answers, to rate yourself or compare your answers to others but rather to help each of us find our own path to passion. I encourage to read this book, scribble in the margins, read each chapter once, twice or more for meaning and it is not required to read the chapters in order. Leave this book in your night table, carry it in your backpack or brief case and refer to it whenever you doubt your current work circumstance.

“Are you just existing and calling it a life?” has given me the impetus to define my passions a little more accurately as I approach Chapter 13, Retirement. I have a to-do list for my retirement that I now realize needs reworking.

Now the work is up to you to find your passion.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Dave Bernard’s book to review.  I mentioned this book in my September 11, 2012 blog.  “Are you just existing and calling it a life,” is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You Can’t Buy Passion

Recent article of mine written for 

We often hear the importance of pursuing passion in life to realize the full potential each of us possesses. By spending our lifetime doing what we love, what inspires us, and what turns us on our chance of finding happiness should increase. If there is a nobler or more worthwhile pursuit I do not know what it is. We all want to be happy.

Yet the discovery of what we are passionate about let alone how to pursue and realize that passion proves elusive to many. Passion is defined as an intense or vehement emotion, occupying the mind in great part for a considerable period, and commanding the most serious action of the intelligence. It drives us, inspires us, empowers us and ultimately gives our lives meaning beyond just existing. We all want to find our passion, we all want to live what we are passionate about, but we often have no clear direction. In spite of best efforts, some are destined to never realize that personal passion that defines who we are and more importantly who we can be.

Not only is it important to discover that inner passion and purpose but once we identify it we need to pursue it. Knowing what excites and drives us without having the ability to chase it can frustrate and derail the best intentions. Too often the realities and requirements of everyday life prevent us from doing what we would love to be doing if we only had the choice. How many businessmen secretly dream of being musicians or artists but the realities of “making it” in the world prevent them? Imagine the feeling of waking up each day excited to jump out of bed knowing that what awaits you is what you love to do. And if you follow your passion it is not only about getting to the destination since every step along the way is something you enjoy doing.

So, if you had all the money you wanted would you automatically realize your passion? Could you buy that passion perfect just for you? I don’t think so.

Alas for those that never sing but die with all their music in them ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

I believe that living our passion is as much about the day to day journey through life as it is about achieving any ultimate end result. For example let’s say that you discover you love playing the piano and your passion is to become good at it. You are entranced by the beautiful melodies and harmonies that baby grand can produce and you want to make sweet music yourself. Accepting that it will take some time you commit yourself to regular practice and you stick with it. You begin to improve over time and find yourself enjoying the sounds you are creating as your increasingly nimble fingers dance over the keyboard. In fact since you are seeing progress you may even find it a bit easier to sit down for the obligatory hours of practice. Surprise – your passion to be a good piano player is being realized along the path toward that goal. When you find yourself enjoying the act itself you are chasing your passion. You are on the right track as effort required is a labor of love that you gladly undertake. It is not just about being a good pianist but more becoming a good pianist – it is the passion felt along the way, that is the passion pursued, that is the purpose achieved.

If you throw money into the equation you do not change the playing field.  And too much money can lead to feelings of entitlement for those who possess it. I deserve this and I have the money so I will have it. However passion cannot be bought. It is not something you can touch but rather a driving feeling inside you. It is not something to be owned but rather a source of inspiration and satisfaction that makes it worthwhile living each day. Passion is not about things but about a way of living.

Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things ~ Denis Diderot

Sure I can buy a first rate (aka expensive) piano but what then? Without the inner drive and desire to become a good piano player how will I motivate myself to put in the time required to get good? Without inspiration practice will be painful and progress never quite fast enough. Eventually should I stick with it I will likely develop a reasonable level of skill and the ability to play the music. But if I am passionate about playing I will make music. Putting my emotions into my playing, feeling the notes rather than merely reading them, inspired and turned on by the act of playing that magical keyboard I will go where those technically adept players will never go.

In the end I guess you can buy your passion – but with effort and focus not money. You need to look inside yourself and find what it is that most inspires you. You need to understand that yes you can live a life should you be forced to do other than pursue that passion. But when you look at that life you also need to realize that by accepting less than what you want, by doing other than what you love, you become a passenger rather than a driver.

If you are just existing and calling it a life, it is up to you to right the course. Nietzsche said “is not life a hundred times to short for us to bore ourselves?”  What are you willing to do?

If you are unsure of how to find your personal passion you may want to take a look at my book Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life? Through real life examples you will learn to understand the roots of passion and identify specific steps you can take toward generating a blueprint of the purpose and life you could be and should be living.