All posts by Michael Drak

Why Baby Boomers like me can’t retire

Mike Drak

After having talked to numerous Baby Boomers lately, I’m convinced more than ever that the majority of we boomers really don’t want to retire, we just need a change, and some help figuring out what to do with the rest of our lives.

In this article I would like to share my thoughts on why some people feel the need for a significant change late in their careers and why traditional retirement is not the answer. I know these feelings because it happened to me. And I’ve been telling the story at a number of presentations Jonathan and I have conducted at various branches of the Toronto Public Library in recent weeks.

The photo shows  one such presentation at the York Woods branch on Victory Lap Retirement, followed by a Q & A session. I love doing these presentations, as it gives me an opportunity to present to my fellow boomers and find out what is going on out there in the real world.

I Started Feeling Antsy Late In My Career

There were a number of reasons for the change I made and here they are in no particular order:

1.) I became very good at doing my job. This naturally happens when you do the same job for twenty plus years. You get comfortable, there is little challenge and you plateau.

2.)  After 36 years of work I was tired of taking orders and being told what to do.

3.) I became bored with my job. That is what happens when you turtle and continue to play safe. I wasn’t learning anything new and I didn’t derive any satisfaction (happiness) from my job. The thrill was long gone and winning more sales contests and trinkets didn’t matter to me anymore. I remembered laughing a lot more earlier in my career. I knew I needed to laugh more before it was too late.

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In pursuit of Boomer happiness

Mike Drak and Heather Reisman

I was at my local Indigo bookstore the other weekend and look at who happened to stop by.

I’m really starting to believe in this karma thing as more and more chance encounters like this are happening to me since writing the book.

Through this chance meeting I had the chance to talk to Heather about Victory Lap Retirement and my concern that we had miscategorized the book by putting it into the personal finance/retirement section. Heather was kind enough to share her thoughts and now I’m convinced that our book should be in the self improvement section.

Not really a retirement book

Victory Lap Retirement is really not a book about retirement; in fact we make a strong case about the benefits of not retiring in the traditional sense. It really is a book about lifestyle design with the goal of helping people create their own low-stress healthy fulfilling lifestyle, one based on their own unique needs and wants. We know that through proper planning and intentional living, we can substantially improve the quality of our remaining years, which is not a bad way to go out when you think about it.

Stress is the main risk in our eyes and prolonged exposure to stress can really mess a person up and in some cases actually kill them. I don’t know if it’s just me but I’m seeing more evidence of this each and every day; examples seems to be everywhere. Is it just me or are you seeing it as well?

We discussed the role of stress in a recent blog post called “The Big Dip.”

Stress inversely correlated with Happiness

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The Big Dip in Financial Freedom

There is something very wrong with the work world today. It is far too common to find employees who are tired, over-worked, stressed out, and living in fear of an uncertain future.

As a result, people are eating too much, watching too much television, and complaining too much, often self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol or taking prescription medication to cope with their stress.

How can it be that in North America, with two of the most prosperous societies in the world, people are taking more medications for anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders than ever before?

Blame it on the big dip.

The graph above represents a typical person’s (mine) working lifecycle. I call it the “big dip” as it’s only fair to recognize Seth’s influence on the development of the concept.

You will note two axises, the vertical one representing personal freedom and the horizontal one representing time spent in years. The graph isn’t to scale but it does get the point of the story across. Be warned, it might scare you: it gave me the jitters when I first drew it so you might want to sit down for this one.

Entry point A is when you leave school and start working, maybe in a “corp.,” like I did. It’s a happy time. Life is fun and exciting and you do not have any significant worries. You are finally making some real money for the first time. One could reasonably say a person at this point is financially independent. They carry no personal debt, their parents still provide them with a roof over their head and food on the table. Life is as simple as it could be. Work-Eat-Have Fun-Repeat.

Everyone’s goal at this point is similar. Work hard, get promoted and make more money. This was the path to success as taught to them by their parents and teachers and every kid wants to look successful in the eyes of their parents, right? Continue Reading…

Helping Boomers create their own Victory Lap Retirement

Victory Lap Retirement is currently #7 on the Globe & Mail’s Canadian non-fiction bestsellers list

I’ve been working hard on my year-end review and goal setting, which I will share with you in next week’s blog. I’m excited by what we have accomplished over the past year, but recognize that there is still a lot to do in the years ahead.

My co-writer Jonathan and I are on a major mission and that mission is made up of two parts:

1.) To convince investment advisors to adopt a more holistic approach and provide quality lifestyle planning assistance to their clients.

2.) To teach young people about financial independence, or Findependence as we like to call it, so that they can get off to a good start in life.

It’s a big job, but it’s something that we just feel the need to do.  Call it our way of giving back to the community! Today, I would like to expand on the first point a little more.

Retirement planning, as it is done today, is inadequate. We are constantly being told by the financial services industry that the more money we save for retirement, the better our retirement will be. This causes a lot of stress for people and the message they are sending is simply wrong.

Financial Planning Fails without Lifestyle Planning

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Introducing the inaugural winner of the Victory Lap Retirement [VLR] Award

Author Ernie Zelinski

Picking the first winner of the VLR [Victory Lap Retirement] Award was easy for me. Some might consider me a little biased, but how could I not give the award to my friend and mentor Ernie Zelinski?

After all it was Ernie’s books How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free and The Joy of Not Working that basically salvaged my life and gave me the courage to leave a 36-year banking career that was slowly killing me.

If I had read Ernie’s book earlier, I would have probably exited my corporate job even sooner than I did.

Ernie is an interesting guy, who learned early in life that he wasn’t cut out for the corporate world.

He’s a true free spirit, always has been, always will be and I just love his personal story. At the age of 29 he bailed (some might say was fired) from his job as a professional engineer. I say bailed because subconsciously we sometimes do things that will end up giving ourselves the result that we really want, as in “I know if I do this they will probably fire me” and in Ernie’s case they actually did.

In Ernie’s own words: “I Truly believe that had I not left corporate life, I would either be dead today, or suffering from some serious stress-induced illness.” Yours truly was also on this path. Thanks for showing me the way Ernie!

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