A friend of mine recently recommended the book “Don’t Retire, Rewire!” by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners. The focus of the book appears to be very similar to the concepts of unretirement, meaning that when we stop working full-time in Corporate America, we don’t have to sit around and do nothing.
I haven’t finished reading it, but one of the early sections that captured my attention was a list titled “The Top 10 Reasons Why People Flunk Retirement”. My initial reaction was “Can you flunk retirement?!” For me, the word “flunk” conjures up the idea that we failed, and we can’t recover. There were two interesting things about the list.
- Beyond “didn’t have a plan”, there was no mention of money, finances, insurance, estate planning, etc. While I don’t believe that retirement is all about the Benjamins, we do need to be realistic about having the means to live and take care of ourselves during retirement. Even if that involves living with a family member. And I could see individuals who don’t feel they’ve prepared enough financially for retirement feeling like they’ve flunked that aspect.
- There were several reasons that fell into the category of “assumptions”. For example, I assumed my partner would be my social life. Or I assumed that rest and recreation would be enough. And finally, that I didn’t know myself very well. I’m not sure these are mistakes that an individual can’t recover from. Now, I’m not saying it will be easy. The process of self-discovery can be hard. Not only do we have to come to our own conclusions, but we might have to share our feelings with friends and family.
But the real takeaway for me wasn’t to focus on the flunking part. It’s to figure out how to move forward.
In today’s business world, we appear to be much more accepting of failure than ever. Billionaire business people like Sir Richard Branson and Spanx founder Sara Blakely remind us that it’s okay to make mistakes. But I can see how people could feel different about flunking at 20 than flunking at 60. They also might choose to handle the situation differently based on their circumstances.
We have to view our unretirement and retirement as a journey. A journey that starts early in life. Will there be stumbling blocks and changes along the way? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean we’ve flunked life or our retirement. It does mean that we need to find ways to adjust.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while wandering the streets of Miami, FL