All posts by Michael Drak

4 books to prepare for Your Victory Lap

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A question that frequently comes up is what books we would recommend people read to help prepare themselves for a successful VL (Victory Lap). I think this happens because many of our talks are held at libraries and people there are accustomed to doing their own research. There are a lot of good books out there, including Victory Lap Retirement, but the following four will do the job getting you both mentally and financially prepared to launch your own VL.

1)   How To Retire Happy, Wild, and Free, by Ernie Zelinski.

This is the book that helped convince me it was ok to leave my stressful banking job. If you are in a similar position, you know it is hard to leave a well-paying job late in your career. However it is just as hard staying in a job that makes you miserable just to save some extra money for a retirement that you have no idea what it will look like. When you are in a job you hate, something has to give and I hope it’s not your health. If you lose your health,  does it really matter how much money you have? You might want to think about that one a little before it’s too late.

We give out a copy of Ernie’s book at our presentations, as there is usually at least one person in attendance who is willing to admit they are struggling with the “should I stay or should I go?”  decision.

Having been there myself I feel for them and know Ernie’s book will help them, just like it helped me.

2)    The Essential Retirement Guide, by Frederick Vettese

I like to sleep at night and after reading this book I was able to sleep a lot better. Most of us are stressed out about the possibility of running out of money in retirement. I can’t speak for any of you but I worried about money, making the mortgage payment, getting the kids through school for most of my life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste any more of my life worrying about money during my Victory Lap. Life is too short for that and I have better things to do with my time.

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Time to stop following the Retirement herd

We are all social animals: we crave interaction and generally don’t like being alone. We crave that feeling of togetherness and being part of something bigger,  the added comfort and safety that comes with being part of a group or a  herd.

The herd protects individuals from being singled out, and in the animal kingdom provides safety from being killed by a predator.

Many people have developed a “herd” mentality in life deriving comfort by going with the flow and if everyone else is going in one direction they must know something that we don’t. It is easier not to complicate things by forging our own path based on what we learn or believe. What happens if we are wrong and the herd is right?

When it comes to retirement the “herd” has been doing this retirement thing for a long time. So they must be right, right?

I used to be a follower, part of the herd if you will. I was willing to put my fate in the hands of others and follow along blindly. Then I realized the retirement herd was heading in the wrong direction, and this wasn’t going to work for me. Let me explain.

Retirement worked when life expectancy was much lower

When the concept of retirement was created just over a hundred years ago, it worked.  The reason it worked was because life expectancy was much lower and if you were one of the lucky ones to reach the retirement finish line, you could expect to enjoy a couple of years in the proverbial “rocking chair,” watching the world go by.

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Me, retired? No way!

The other day I was at my local bank branch doing some business and the teller asked me how I was enjoying my retirement.

Hearing that surprised me but then I realized they had a message on their computer system that identified me as a retired employee of the bank.

For some reason I felt the need to defend myself and started to explain that I in fact was not retired, that I was busier than ever running my blog, selling my book, serving as a retirement coach and doing public speaking. But then I had a sudden change of heart and decided to stop what I was doing. I realized that defending myself was the OLDME raising its ugly head again and I don’t like OLDME anymore.

Label Me Anything But Retired!

The word retirement is being thrown around these days, describing so many things from the old style “full stop” retirement to everything but the kitchen sink. I believe lack of clarity is causing confusion for a lot of people these days.

Why should we automatically label someone retired just because they decided to leave a job which in my particular case lasted for 36 years? Continue Reading…

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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