September 8, 2017

I Need Your Feedback



I have started writing a new book about retirement. This would be my third. Sales of the first two continue but the latest one is over four years old so now is the time. At this point I have finished a rough draft of two of the nine chapters I envision.

But, the last few days have given me pause, and I'd like your feedback. There are a lot of books about retirement. I receive information about a new one on this subject at least once a week. Some are good, some not so much. But, the bottom line is there are thousands of books about retirement covering every aspect of this important subject. 

I am asking myself now, before I put several months into this project, whether the world needs another book about having a satisfying retirement. Is there any part of retirement finances, relationships, passion-building, travel, time management, and volunteering that need covering again in a book format?

Blog posts about retirement are different. 700 words can be read in a few minutes. The ability to comment or read what others have to say makes each post a potential learning experience. There is a feeling of community on these pages.

So, here comes the request for your feedback: should I write a new book about retirement? Is there something you think I could bring to the subject that is missing from many of the others in this category? Would another Satisfying Retirement book help people? If the answer is, Yes, then I will continue. There is a central focus for the book I have in mind. I have gained enough experience over the last several years to still have plenty to say.

But, if you believe my efforts may be best spent elsewhere, I would deeply appreciate your saying so. Is there a another subject you think might be productive for me to explore?  Should I save my writing for these blog posts and spend my creative time finding new things to explore on these pages? Maybe it is time I explore videos on YouTube or podcasts.

At this point I am open to all ideas. Obviously, I am comfortable writing about retirement and can produce a quality product. But, maybe I am stuck in one area. Maybe the time is now to write about something else.

Please rest assured, I am not talking about changing this blog. This is my home and where my on-line family and friends are.  I just would like some feedback before I write 250 pages on a subject that maybe has been adequately covered! To write and produce a book that may not attract many readers is probably not the best use of my time. 

I am quite anxious to read your thoughts. Thanks for anything you care to share.



61 comments:

  1. I think there are enough retirement books and they can be repetitive.A lot of the info is the "basics" and is covered adequately,I think. I'm not sure I'd read another book.But I LOVE YOUR BLOGGING about retirement-- because it is timely and can address the issues of the day,the week,the month,whereas a book gets stale and out of date very quickly these days. I think your blog gives you a lot of latitude in topics too,much more than a book. Youtubes: I don't watch video much, but I think a lot of people do. Even my favorite topics, such as astrology and tarot..some of my friends do video blogs but I don't watch them! Sorry.I DO read their written posts. I also am one of the few people I know who does not listen to podcasts.. Maybe not the norm.. I don't mean to be discouraging, but yes, a book is a huge commitment and I don't think I'd need another book on retirement but I do know I love keeping fresh and up to date with blogging.Also, the blog allows for interaction!

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    1. In several ways your thoughts echo mine at the moment. A book does become stale rather quickly, while a blog is constantly reinvented. But, the general feeling so far on the comments that follow are book-supportive. I'm interested in everyone's thoughts.

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    2. I agree with Madeline. I believe you can do more good with this blog than with another book. When you're giving advice, and you always have good advice, I think it would be better to make it timely and a book about something that changes rather frequently can't do that. Maybe you should promote your books more here on the blog. I'm sure you have new readers on a fairly regular basis who maybe haven't read them. They can contact you with follow-up questions after they read the books.
      Just my 2 cents worth.
      b

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    3. I will third this echo and say that this is why mine has been on hold (among other reasons). The only exception I can think of is that someone commented to me that there are no "Mens" retirement books. There are single books, womens books and I suspect couples books. Now, whether there's even a need for that I know not. But it does seem to me that a blog can cover more, and remain updated re current events than a retirement book.

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    4. I was just thinking that most books on retirement are written by men. They may be for women, but they are from a man's perspective. I enjoy your writing style Bob. I think it would add a lot if you could get Betty to chime in on certain topics. I think a chapter on moving from early retirement to regular retirement might be in line as well. Maybe even something on how an inheritance can change things?

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  2. I would think with the many baby boomers reaching retirement age daily that their still would be interest. The question is what topics to cover in depth. Have you analyzed which are the most visited and commented upon blog topics since your last book? Were those covered in your other books in an up to date way? Do you want to write an entire new book or update your last one with new info and chapters to "refresh" it and give it a current publication date? So many different ways to approach this including a collection of highest interest/most controversial blog posts. Will be interested to hear your plans as they firm up.

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    1. I wondered about freshening the current book for sale, but it is a collection of interviews and responses to questions, so that format doesn't lend itself to updating.

      My intent would be to take strong blog posts from the last 4 years (since the last book was released) and group them into categories. That allows a reader to skip to the chapters that directly affect them at the moment.

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  3. I am biased - I like your blog and I really spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming, reading and hopefully learning about retirement. I like reading all forms about it - blogs, articles in main stream publications and books.
    I say write it. For me, timeliness counts. Yes there are thousands of books out there, but how many that were written in the last year or two. I tend to avoid books that are more than a few years old (not including the classics. Books like Huck Finn or The Intelligent Investor to me are timeless). Who wants to read an investing book for instance written before the financial crisis? Too much chance it wouldn't be relevant.
    Given that you have plenty of new material I say move forward. If you'd like, put a link out for preorders - I've got that much confidence that it will be a great read! (By the way, I saw an old AM radio the other day and thought of you and your hobby.)

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    1. Thanks for such a strong vote of confidence, Tim.

      I am refinishing the wooden case of a 1940's radio at the moment. AFter sanding, stripping, and shellacking it will be beautiful.

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  4. Like Juhli, I believe there is always a new audience with another cohort of retirees. Or will there be in this financial climate? What's current about retirement now? Creating a satisfying life is never out of vogue, retired or not.

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    1. Thanks, Mona. Another vote for the book! I think my fall schedule is shaping up.

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  5. Send me your mailing address and I will send you a copy of my new book Victory lap retirement. After reading it I believe there is still a lot that you need to write about. Visit my website at victorylapretirement.com

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    1. My point: another book about retirement!

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  6. This would not be another book on retirement written by some snotty 40 year old. This would not be a preachy book on retirement written by a boring academic. This is a book on how retirement actually unfolds written by you about your experiences. I find your blogs very relevant and any book you write would be relevant to now. I planned the finances well, had activities to keep me busy, kept up a healthy lifestyle and traveled to places I really wanted to see. 10 years later I have dropped some of the group activities, I travel more cautiously, and unforeseen health issues (picked the wrong parents) have put some limits on my life choices. Who Knew! I have read some of these same changes in your retirement life also. Yes write the book.

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    1. Your vote is noted, Marianne. One thing is guaranteed: I am not too young for the subject matter!

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    2. And to comment one last time, I would add that the great majority of those "retirement" book are STILL about financing retirement, preparing for retirement or early retirement. Retirement lifestyle books (and even blogs I suspect) are stil fewer than the"I can help you retire with money" stuff.

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  7. Hi Bob! As a person who also has written a book about retirement I say "Yes!" Why? Because even if every single person in the U.S. wrote a book about retirement--they would all be different. That's because we all communicate in unique ways even when writing about the same topic. I know you know that, right? What you say is sometimes less important than how you say it. And sure, you cover some of the same topics as others but your examples and ideas are uniquely your own. The experiences and ideas that you've had since your last book came out are also enriched. And besides, I think a large number of people in our demographic prefer to read books rather than to read online, so you will likely reach a whole new audience. So YES! Go for it! ~Kathy

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    1. The last book was Kindle only. This time around I likely have a print edition available. The ability for me to only have one printed when it is ordered eliminates a lot of the expense of self-publishing hard copies versus electronic only.

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    2. This idea gets my vote. I'd prefer something I can keep on my night stand or lend out to a friend.

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  8. The word 'retirement' has been replace with the words 'Financial Independence'. Personally, I like the latter concept. What we need are more books that will teach how to be financially free. Most young people today don't even know how to balance a checkbook or prepare for any future. If you can write a book solely on your expert financial maneuvers, now THAT would be a best seller! Just my two cents.

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    1. THere would be a key chapter about that very subject since financial stability underpins everything. I appreciate your two cents.

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    1. Phased or staged retirement are common phrases, but explaining preretirement is a new one. Thanks, Kevin.

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  10. I rarely read books anymore. I like the timeliness of blogs and how we can read previous posts and comments. I search Google for everything I want to know now!

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    1. I know you are not alone. One of the joys of blogging is how immediate it is and quick to consume.

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  11. Bob, as more people move closer to retirement, there is a need for more information about retirement. Many of us who are retired have the time to read the many great blogs out there on retirement. Those working do not have the luxury that we have to search out and find good blogs. A book is, in my mind, a good way to reach out to those thinking of or planning their retirement. If I have a book to read, I can pick it and read a few pages, or more when I have the time. I can carry it with me and read while commuting, while resting or while sitting on the throne. I would love to see your next book.

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    1. Portability of a book, either printed or on a reader, is a positive feature. Thanks for the feedback, Royce.

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  12. There are many retirement books available these days and I find they are often so similar that I have little interest in reading them. However, if there was one that had a fresh take - a different angle - on retirement I would be interested. Like so many other things these days retirement is changing from what it was in our parents or grandparents day. Also many of us are now hit with unexpected retirement sooner than we anticipated due to job situations, health, etc. Both my husband and myself had planned on working until we were 65 or 66 but with job changes we both retired a few years sooner. I hear more and more of people that retire up to ten years sooner due to lay-offs, etc. We plan for retirement but not everyone expects it to come sooner than expected and that can hit a person hard both financially and emotionally. I had looked forward to retirement for years but when it came sooner than I had planned it felt like more of a loss than a joy. I wasn't sure I was financially ready and I was surprised to discover I was not emotionally ready either.

    I feel like a book with a fresh take on retirement, something not like all the others, would get the attention of more of us both before and after retirement. Overall Bob, I feel like this is something you have already decided that you need and want to do and if that is the case than you should go forward with it! After all, it is also important what is right for YOU right now!

    PS
    I know it would be a good one!

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    1. I have started and stopped this next book a few times based on the overall question of need. That's the purpose of this post, to help me verify that it wouldn't be more of the same. At this point, it seems pretty clear: finish the book, Bob, but be sure to put a fresh spin on it.

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  13. I don't need another book on retirement, but I have been retired 7 years. There may be a lot of people who do need it and would appreciate your perspective. I think you should make the decision based on whether or not you are excited about writing it. If you are you should do it. If you are dreading putting all that time in don't. Time can't be replaced. Only you can decide the best way to use it.

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    1. A good summary of my quandry, Donna. I have been struggling with the time commitment if it is just another in a long, long, line of books about retirement. If I can find a fresh angle on the subject, then.....

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  14. Having read numerous books on retirement, pre-retirement - they all seem to cover the
    same subjects with different ideas. The one area that I haven't seen touched on is the subject of food - menu planning, basic recipes for those on a fixed income... This area may be appreicated by ones who can't afford the luxury that others enjoy. Idease to help achieve low cost meals that are nutritous & varied might be appreciated - You might have more expertise in this than you think and maybe you have
    talked about this before, if so I apologize for missing it. Just an idea different from the mainstream. We do enjoy reading your blog!

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    1. That is a very interesting idea. My idea of a fancy meal is one with paper napkins instead of a piece of paper towel. A basic recipe around the Lowry household is spaghetti with ground turkey and some sliced up colorful peppers. This might be a better subject for a blog post but it is certainly something I had never thought of before. Nicely done, Marti.

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    2. You are spot on, Bob! Although there are many food blogs dedicated to any type of food you could desire, alot of them seem to try to outdo each other in terms of gourmet style. Nothing wrong with that but your description of a basic meal in your house is exactly what I was referring to. So many retirees are strapped or watching their pennies, showing them how your family cooks & watches the cost could be most helpful. If not enough content for a book, maybe you could cover it more in depth on your own blog? Thank you for your reply!

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  15. How about a book about people who are doing retirement "differently." Debbie and Michael Campbell, the Senior Nomads, are one example, but there are others out there who are volunteering in remote locations, going back to school to earn a degree, taking up a new avocation (versus hobby), and so forth. These stories can not only be inspiring, but instructive as well, and offer opportunities for reflection on the potential that comes with retirement.

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    1. That would make an interesting chapter. I'm not sure how to locate those who might be able to contribute (beyond the Campbells), but that is worth some thought.

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    2. How about those in your blog roll? They tend to be a pretty diverse group in how they have enjoyed retirement.

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  16. I think a few chapters of the book should be spent on how to get there. I'm thinking of Dave Ramsey's "Live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow". You could bring the frugal living concept into it. Also, helping people understand that their retirement is their responsibility, not social securities. You could also devote space for testimonials from retirees who have "been there done that". You could also enlist the help of your children to get their perspective on appealing to a younger audience. I think the topic is more important now than it's ever been.

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    1. Good ideas for me to mull over, Diane. How to make it to retirement in good financial shape is certainly important. I'll play with that idea.

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  17. One point that has not been mentioned but is part of my decision process: the cost of promoting and marketing. If the book is only "sold" through this blog then the audience is rather limited. To reach a mass audience there would have to be a decent sized budget to promote the book's availability and strengths.

    I am loving all the feedback and ideas so far. I will certainly let you know what I am going to do, when I know!

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  18. The internet is the "go to" for.me and I am 72. The up coming retirees will be even more tech focussed than our generation and I can't get excited about another book about retirement. But I can get excited about your blog...not just your writing but the comments from readers that often provide a lightbulb moment. No book could offer this freshness and sense of belonging and the emotional honesty that your blog allows.

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    1. I love that, even after 7 years, this blog remains vibrant and a place that folks feel comfortable being both readers and commenters. Thanks for your support.

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  19. Personally, since retiring, the only books I read are fiction. If I have a need for non-fiction information I stick with blogs, Google, etc. Writing a book would certainly be a great retirement activity and you certainly have a gift for writing so the answer isn't to write or not to write but what is the need that needs writing about. As new generations enter the retirement force they bring different levels of how they access information. Does a book format meet that need?

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  20. There's a lot of info already out there in books and blogs, with as much or as little detail as one is capable of absorbing.

    Seems to me that the nature of retirement is shifting, and you could address that shift more accurately and timely in a blog, for example, how to plan for retirement as health-care and Social Security change and the concept of retiring early in life through frugality (see the frugalwoods blog/website). I also agree with Anonymous above who pointed out how reader comments on your blog provide lightbulb moments, freshness -- also timeliness that a published book doesn't have.

    Your blog allows your readers to share ideas and reflect on how to incorporate new ideas into their personal journey of retirement, and that's what I see as the real need here. One has to read a lot more books to glean the same insights, IMHO.

    BTW, what I don't see discussed much in any format is how to retire with a tight budget. Or how to maintain your health so that you have quality of life if you are planning a later retirement (age 70 and above). Food shopping, cooking and meal planning is a great part of that. So is considering giving up homeowning entirely and living in RVs. Using community services instead of buying -- again, part of the frugal lifestyle movement. Hooking into the barter system, building community exchanges of goods (another idea on frugalwoods). How specific health conditions can impact retirement and how to cope with that.

    Whatever you decide, Bob, thanks for your blog, for being so open and honest, and for developing and maintaining this go-to online community.

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    1. The subjects you mentioned have been covered on this blog on a regular basis, but they are what are often called "evergreen" topics - those that never can be overdone. I have made note of the issues you highlight to build future posts.

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  21. I say write the book. I know I would buy it. I really enjoy your blog even if I don't always agree with you.

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  22. I have a different perspective. We can plan all we want. We can "know" that we are active, vital people excited about what retirement will bring. We can think our healthy habits, including lifelong exercise, weight maintenance, healthy eating, interest in other people and in new learning experiences have made us immune from the travails of our less active and engaged peers. That was me, at 60, proud to be in a community orchestra, heading out with my husband on our mountain bikes several days a week and heading out on 2-4 mile jogs with the dogs every day, working whenever I could snatch enough time on my next novel. Now 67, I've had brain surgery, have regular scheduled three-hour infusions, and have had several years when I needed a cane and was still progressively getting worse. How do you live a joyful retirement when life delivers you something different than you'd expected? How do you have purpose when you're lucky to have a couple of hours of active time each day, when you're out of the bed and moving? It sounds maudlin, but Toni Bernhard's How to Be Sick is one book that accomplishes the goal of talking about living a joyful life, even with such occurrences. It is more than possible to live such a joyful and meaningful life, even with unrelenting pain and disability. Yet Bernhard's book is not targeted specifically to retirees, to those of us who thought we had earned a better retirement. What about those hit with financial disasters not of their doing? You can bet there are retirees without flood insurance here in Texas who have lost everything. What about those who retire near family only to find themselves a few years later estranged from an adult child? These are all stories that many of us have heard. Those who are in retirement years sometimes don't feel they're as resilient as they might have earlier. They don't have as much time to recoup financial losses. They may be too debilitated to overcome physical travails. They still need hope and assurance and tools to develop resilience.

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    1. That is a very important comment, Linda. I guess one of my "advantages" is I am the same age as most of my readers. So, I am going through what many others are in real time. Those are the stories I try to share.

      Yet, there are whole categories of retirement and aging problems I cannot relate to because they haven't happened to me. So, you have given me an idea for future posts: soliciting stories and feedback from those who have had those issues and sharing that side of our journey. If folks will participate by sharing, that could open up a tremendously important new direction for this blog.

      A lightbulb moment, Linda!

      I am going to check our Toni's book, too.

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    2. I think you have the start of a really good book here Bob...when retirement doesn't turn out the way you planned.

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  23. They say to age in the most healthy way, learn something new. Since you are a good writer, why don't you try something different - creative writing. Fiction. Maybe a thriller about someone who has just retired? That way you can certainly draw on your own experience. There certainly is a huge boomer market out there to identify with your aging hero.

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    1. Fiction with a retiree as the central character...interesting idea.

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  24. Hi Bob, I just got back from another four day "InSearchOfAmerica" road trip so thought I would chime in here. As if you don't already have enough (ha). I, like several of your commenters, don't read many books anymore. Especially about retirement of which like you I am in my 12th year. But as some say there are many who are just starting down that path and are looking for good books on the topic. Even if you make some slight mods to one of your older books that would probably get more looks as I always look for the most recent source. That's one thing I don't like about Google searches, many of the found articles are 10 years old and that is ancient by today's standard.

    If you get the most pleasure in writing a book then just do it. But I am in the camp of you maybe putting more attention and maybe diversity to your blog. I suspect your view count here is many time more than your books sold?

    Whatever you decide to do my friend, I will be around to read it....

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    1. You make a good point about readership on the blog. The views in just a three day period is more than all the books sold in the past 4 years. Yes, the downloaded ebooks generated some money, but not enough to fund an aggressive marketing campaign to reach non-blog readers for another book.

      The jury is still out. I will make a decision this week so I can move forward with whatever direction makes sense.

      The number of comments and the expressions of sincere concern are very appreciated.

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  25. Bob-

    I bit late but a comment (I'm writing this in Notepad so I don't loose it). I too have read many "retirement" books in an effort to plan the non-financial side of the journey. The theme I kept finding was something along the lines of "if you are not just as busy in retirement, doing fulfilling and worthwhile activities, as you were when working you are wasting your retirement." Upon deeper reflection I noticed that a majority of the people starting a second career or doing major "good work" were those who retired early - mid 50's to early 60's and of course this group really does have the energy and good health to do this and probably needs to avoid the boredom of not working or they have a spouse who was still working. This was not by in large the 70+ year olds.

    I retired at 67 after working for 50 years and was just glad to have time to enjoy myself. However all the "you need to be busy" just took the joy out of retirement and frankly just pissed me off. I did not need to feel guilty that I was just ready to relax and spend the time doing what pleased me (and the spouse :-) ). AARP shows all these retirees traveling around, doing major volunteer work, and "next career" articles - which I suggest is a small part of the real retiree stories and activities. Stop making us feel guilty or unfilled if we are not following these paths.

    So if you want to write another retirement book how about one that celebrates how people are enjoying retirement and being "fulfilled" just doing nothing special. How about talking about those who just enjoy the grandkids, or are slowly divesting of the accumulated "stuff" of life (so they don't leave a mess for the kids to dispose of). How maybe they are giving the children/grands/great grands the family heirlooms now vs when they are gone. One thing my MIL never figured out was the need to give the heirlooms away when the kids could use them and make memories (and attachments) so the grands will want the items. As an example my MIL finally gave the family rocking chair to my wife long after we could have used it with our babies. Now we have it but the kids don't care and have no attachment or memories since they were not rocked in it. How about discussing passing on the family stories to the grands or even the kids. My daughter is working on the family histories using Ancestry.com. She needs family stories and memories to track relatives. This can be very interesting stuff for the younger crowd to know where they came from.

    Maybe a "retirement book" for 50 year old people vs 65 year old people - what should you do to get ready to retire starting at 50 and not financially oriented. Although somebody needs to tell this age to get long term care insurance as soon as they can.

    How about talking about the aging process. You know when we were teenagers (our parents) gave us "the book" - "The Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers" so we had some idea of how we were going to change and how to cope. How about writing "The Facts of Love and Life for the Boomers". Explain how our bodies will change, what changes are normal and what are serious, love life, senior dating, coping with loss - death and our own physical and mental loss due to aging. How to come to terms with "not being in charge anymore". These are all elements of the retirement process. This might even be a great set of blog posts - get comments on how others are coping with this aspect of maintaining a "satisfying retirement".

    As another suggestion just do a book of some of your best blogs and include the relevant comments. These can be fun and helpful to read as well.

    My 2 cents.

    Bob

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    1. That was much more than 2 cents, and I love your thoughts and the time you took to write it.

      There are several great ideas for some really interesting blog posts that I will certainly make use of. Look for them this fall.

      If I do another book it would be a collection of blog posts grouped by subject matter.

      Thanks, Bob. You have given me a lot to work with.

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  26. Hi. The only thing wrong, to me, about your article(s) on a satisfying retirement is that they (the first two I read) are not about retirement. The first article is about a boyhood rites of passage, discovering radio, and the second article is about people working, particularly part-time - but working is not retirement. I'm retired now aged 53 and I worked part-time for a year before I retired. If you do write the book, make it about retirement and not people who dip in and out of work. I will say that the words 'retired' and 'retirement' should be removed from the English language because all they really mean is that people stop gaining an income from employment or self-employment and spend their time in different ways. The word 'retired' suggests that paid work is the be all and end all and if you stop doing that your life is pretty much over. I'm not 'retired'. I live an 'alternative life' and a much better one than the one I had when someone paid me a salary every month. Good luck with your book.

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    1. Actually, if you read a bit more than two posts you will find that a satisfying retirement covers all sorts of subjects and viewpoints. This blog is read by both those who have retired and those who are still employed full time but are looking forward to a happy and productive retirement. Today's post gives a bit of the story as to how I was able to retire from my first career, because I found my passion early in life.

      Some retirees find working after leaving their primary career is best for them. The extra income and feeling of accomplishment are important. Others prefer to spend their time in travel, volunteering, going back to school, or enjoying a life of leisure and family.

      You believe that retirement means no work. Others don't. That is a perfect example of the type of freedom that this stage of life brings. The great thing about retirement today is it doesn't fit into one neat box.

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  27. Bob, if you have an idea for another retirement book burning in your soul, write it. I can't think of anyone more qualified than you. You have tremendously interesting and varied perspectives from your blog to draw upon, which, along with your unique perspective, will make the book unique and valuable.

    Also, many people in my age demographic who are on the cusp of retirement or in the process of transitioning do not read blogs, but they do read books. I am basing this observation on what I know about my real-life (as contrasted with virtual) friends. For me, making the decision to retire, doing the planning, and gradually extricating myself from my career was a difficult multiyear process, and I greatly appreciated reading about how others had experienced it.

    As you have commented above, I think the main audience for your book will be people other than your current blog readers. So you will want to to use additional marketing strategies that go beyond advertising it on your blog.

    Jude

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    1. Thanks for all the positive thoughts, Jude. Yes, marketing will be the major hurdle to success, at least in terms of sales and readership.

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