In pursuit of Boomer happiness

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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

We have amended the original chart to now include a line representing a person’s level of happiness while travelling through the big dip. What stands out is that there is a strong negative correlation between stress and a person’s happiness. In simple terms, if your stress level is high chances are your happiness level will be low. What is also interesting is that stress levels do not get reduced as expected as a person ages.

This flies in the face of past research that talked about a happiness “U” curve: where a person experienced increasing happiness until around age 30, with happiness dipping into their 30s and 40s, then climbs back up after reaching their fifties.

This theory used to work back when life was more predictable. When you could work for one company for most of your working life (like I did). When some of us had the benefit of a defined pension plan. When your kids could get a good job and finally leave home. When you had a reasonable chance to save for a good retirement and when life expectancy rates were lower. But the world has changed and the U-curve theory no longer works and has been replaced by the Big Dip. This is the reason why you see so many books dealing with the subject of happiness at the front of your local bookstore. Think I’m kidding? Go have a look for yourself.

The 3 big sources of Retirement stress

Today even as we age new stressors are around all the time. The top three stressors facing retirees are concerns over their health, the possibility of running out of money in retirement, and a lack of purpose or as we like to refer to it as ‘having a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

The good news is we have found ways to successfully reduce stress levels and even more good news is that happiness will fill the vacuum stress leaves behind. You can’t chase happiness, happiness will find you but you need to make room for it.

So in summary the book is not a personal finance/retirement book at all. It is a self improvement book showing people how they can reduce the stress in their lives with the goal of creating a happy, healthy fulfilling lifestyle for themselves. Jonathan and I serve as the role models. We have made the transition and if we can do it there is no reason why others can’t do it as well.

Now we just need to figure out how to get the book into the self-improvement section at the bookstore.

Seminar next week on Victory Lap/Findependence with Mike & Jonathan

Editor’s Note: As noted above, if you’re in Toronto, circle your calendar for March 29th, for a seminar Mike and Jonathan are giving on Victory Lap Retirement and Financial Independence, together with certified financial planner Ed Rempel (who has also penned a few guest blogs for the Hub). Those who attend will receive copies of both Findependence Day and Victory Lap Retirement.

Those who can’t attend can catch a webinar on April 4th. Details on both events here.

Mike Drak is an author, blogger and speaker based in Toronto. He can be reached at michael.drak@yahoo.ca. Victory Lap Retirement, co-authored with Hub CFO Jonathan Chevreau, is now available for orders online and on Kindle and Kobo ebooks, where it is a bestseller. The paperback edition is available in Chapters Indigo and many independent bookstores, as well as Costco. This blog originally ran on Mike’s site on Feb. 9th and is reprinted here with permission.

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