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Reimagining Retirement (Life Beyond the Number)

For years I’ve been involved in helping people figure out how to do this thing called “retire” through my firm Convergence Point Wealth Advisors. As a licensed financial advisor and planner, I’ve helped people navigate “retirement plans,” done “retirement calculators” and helped them invest in “retirement funds.” “Retirement” was what everyone does! Or should do. Right? It’s A life stage. No one even questioned whether that we should all “prepare” to “retire.” And “retirement” by definition means you stop doing this four letter word called WORK. You got paid to stay home. Play golf. Take up rocking in this thing called a rocking chair. You read Money Magazine and Forbes. Even if history tells us that almost zero people retired this way before giant factories and corporations started finding ways to get the older (usually slower) people to make room and social security systems in the and “new deal” complied in the 1930’s and 40’s. More recently, we bought into the belief that “those who get to retirement first win.” The big question we just needed to ask was: “At what age do you want to retire?” “What’s your number?” (Equals money do we need to “retire?” ) Then, “What’s our risk tolerance?” And, personally I’ve been part of that industry for over a decade that seeks to “help" you to just that for more than ten years now. So in 2008, when a sixty-one year old financial client call me and said “Jeff, I need to meet with you to have you help me retire” my natural first question included, “When are you planning to retire?” His answer blew me away…. “Friday!” I thought he was kidding. “Friday?! You’re kidding, right?” “Not kidding at all! I want to get the *$#! our of this $&*!*@ job.” “OK. So what do you plan on doing when after Friday?” “Sit at home. Watch television! Not work!” Extreme case for sure! But, that was eight years ago now… and it rocked my own belief system. Was my much of my financial advisor practice built to help many people do things that aren’t in their overall human best interest? Does every one believe:

  • Work is the enemy.

  • Retirement is a divine right and what everyone should aim to do.

  • 65 is a magic “you better retire by then!” number.

  • Retirement means pretty much you don’t do much… It’s a rest of life vacation.

Since that conversation in 2008, I’ve talked to many, likely hundreds, of those retiring and already retired. (And there are plenty of statistics to support the stories I’ve been told) They’d wished they had rethought retirement before “getting there” and even had more, reimagined life? Times are changing. And many are starting to rethink or even reimagine “retirement.” Is their life beyond "the number?" And why not? 
Even the Chicago Tribune featured an article a few weeks ago with the headline: “More Americans Plan to Retire After 70” And most employees in the U.S. are more pessimistic and believe their generation will be "much worse off in retirement" compared with their parents' generation.” (76 percent agreed or strongly agreed with that statement.) So, what now? What if we were to “Reimagine Retirement” to begin with the framework of HUMAN FLOURISHING instead of corporate benefit or even cultural peer pressure? In the past months I have been involved in discussions with other influencers and forward thinkers in the financial industry who believe that “rethinking” or “reimagining retirement" is not a thing for “some day!” Instead given the huge amount of people reaching traditional “retirement” age now and in the next few years, helping people plan must go beyond segmented or financial retirement planning to a more powerful kind of planning… We’ve been calling it “financial wealth planning” or “Life-Wealth Planning.” We’ve agreed that financial planning isn’t unimportant. In fact, it’s one of the keys to actually living many client’s dreams and goals. But, to quote someone who knew better, ”Man cannot live on bread alone.” Life is more than money. So, should we do more than financially plan for what may be a much as one third of our lives? Is this the time for financial planning and “retirement planning” to stop being“siloed” from overall life-planning, health planning or career/vocation planning? I believe the magic lies in the integration. “Rethinking Retirement” expert Keith Weber proposes we address 7 key spokes in the wheel when it comes to planning in this key life transition.

  • Career and Work

  • Fulfilling Purpose

  • Financial Maturity

  • Personal Development

  • Health and Wellness

  • Leisure and Lifestyle

Over the past eight years, I have learned from both the coaching side and from the financial side to help clients integrate these things. In brief, here’s what I’m seeing as outcomes:

1. Meaningful work at every age become a goal and a key to overall well-being. The key word is MEANINGFUL

Lauren Schmitz, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, tracked 50- to 64-year-old men working full-time over an 18-year period. In her study she concluded,

“Occupations that allow men to use their strongest abilities and give them a sense of achievement, independence, variety, authority, creativity, and status are associated with improved health at older ages.”

And Biblically, God created man to do meaningful work. Read Genesis one and two and notice that God’s paradise for man did include work he and she could love.

2. You access a bigger vision of legacy, impact and influence in our later years.

The overall wealth of life includes realizing your bigger purpose… not just dollars and sense. More and more people realize as they get older, they want to “give back more” and stop thinking that more consumerism really will make them happy or fulfill them at at soul level.

The wealthy life often means being able to pay bills and have freedom and peace from debt. But it also means knowing you’re using your passions, positions and proficiencies to make other people’s lives better.

3. Financial savings and investing follows when you develop a fulfilling and exciting vision for your future.

Let’s face it, when you’re not excited, motivated or inspired for the future, it’s hard, really hard, to have the emotional intelligence to put off spending now. BUT, when you get a picture of a dream worth saving and investing in, that’s a whole other story.

Companies call this finding your bigger “Why.” And “save so you can retire” has become a shrinking “why.” Especially when we see the lack of happiness and fulfillment in our parent’s generation who followed the path the “traditional retirement.”


No, we won’t change an mutli-billion dollar financial industry that’s been focusing on “retirement” means just one spoke or facet overnight. But, more people are getting in the conversation. And more people aren’t settling for planning just one facet. But the time for reimagining retirement

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