February 4, 2019

Attention To My Pre-Retiree Self: You Need To Know This!

Knowing what we know now, what would we do differently during the time before we retired? Maybe more importantly, does it matter? There is no "back to the future" option. The life we have built has led us to this point. 

I would argue that knowing what we might do differently has two positive results, one for us, and one for those following in our footsteps.

For us: we are still a work in progress. Life is about change. There are ways we approach things or make choices in the future that will affect the quality of our retirement.

For those who have yet to retire: learn from our mistakes and choices. See what experience has taught us. Pick what fits your life and avoid what doesn't.

With that setup, here is a (incomplete) list of what I would tell my younger self, remind my present self, and pass along to those coming up behind me:

1) Don't fall in love with the consumer rat race

2) Save even when you think you can't

3) Good friends are worth more than you can imagine

4) Your health habits in your younger years will catch up with you

5) Work is what you do, not who you are

6) The Beatles were (mostly) right: love is all you need

7) If you lose your good name and reputation you won't get them back

8) There is no shortcut to success

9) It may not seem like it now, but life is very short and the end comes much too soon

I wondered if I should prioritize these nine things, putting them in order of importance. Try as I might, I couldn't. Every time I moved one item up the list, then I decided that the item just below it was just as critical to a happy, fulfilling life.

So, I am taking the position that all nine would be equally important to my younger self and remain vital to me today.


  1. Bob, all your points above are good ones and all equally important but point 9 has a special resonance for me. I had a penciled in retirement date but was reluctant to make the jump into the unknown of retirement when that date arrived (and then passed). It wasn't a lack of funds, my retirement savings were right on track, but rather a fear of the unknown. About 18 months past my imagined retirement date my mother-in-law was dying of cancer and said to my wife in no uncertain terms almost the exact words you have in point 9: "Life is short and the end comes much too soon".

    That cured us of any retirement indecision and we told our employers we were retiring in a few months time. It has turned out to be the best decision we ever made and now that we are retired I wonder what I was worried about.

    1. Your experience with pulling the retirement trigger is so common it should have an official name! I'll work on that and see if I can give the phenomenon an appropriate handle.

      A TSA agent asked me, somewhat apologetically, if I was over 75 when I was flying home from Orlando last night. Over that age you are treated like an under 12 year old child: keep your shoes and belt on for security. That hit me hard: first that I am only 5 years away from that age, and secondly, that there is assumption those over 75 are harmless.

    2. Official name? Hmmm... Retirement anxiety sounds about right or perhaps pre-retirement anxiety is more accurate.

      On the age thing... My wife was quite put out when she first qualified for (and asked for) the senior's discount and the sales person didn't even ask for proof. The nerve of some people!

  2. Bob, I , too, would agree that #9 is first in my list.
    I agree with all of your point, but (of course) I have something to add :)

    3) Good friends (and family members) are worth more than you can imagine; never pass a chance to make a new friend and love on new family.

    From a 92 year old marathon runner I know:
    4) Your health habits in your younger years (and genetics) will catch up with you; start today and workout for tomorrow.

    And from lessons sitting around the table at my mother's retirement community:
    7)If you lose your good name and reputation you (won't get) have to become very humble to them back; it takes loads of work for good friends to forgive you and new friends will walk with you in a different light.

    I hope you had a wonderful time at Disney while we were all freezing up here :).

    1. It was quite cold the first few days in Orlando, relatively speaking. We wore sweatshirts, long sleeve undershirts and a light rain coat, plus a warm hat. Toward the end of our stay, we made it without coats and sweatshirts.

      The older I get the more important #9 becomes.

  3. All excellent advice. I'm forwarding this post to my pre-pre-retirement kids.

  4. A round of applause for an excellent post, Bob. With the exception of #6, I wholeheartedly agree with all of your points. (I'm probably one of a small minority who doesn't care for the Beatles and I don't think that love is all you need.) Like Tom, above, I'm forwarding this to my (young adult) kids. It's not that Alan and I didn't try to instill solid values during their childhood, it's just that it often helps when the advice comes from someone other than Mom or Dad.

    I trust that you, Betty and your family will have had a wonderful time at Disney. Coincidentally, our family is planning a trip there in the spring to celebrate a couple of milestone graduations. Mickey and his friends certainly ensure fun for all ages. What we lose from our wallets is inconsequential compared to what we gain in family fun and happy memories.

    1. I agree: the money spent a week of memory building is worth it. All of us will remember this trip forever.

      I never thought I'd say this, but I am actually getting tired of the Beatles music. I guess after 50 years that is OK. They changed the world but everything moves on.

  5. Very wise points, Bob, and I agree with all of them. I have spent most of my life haunted by number 9. It is one thing to be aware of this bit of wisdom, but quite another what strategy you enact in response. I am sorry to say that my response to being aware of the short time that I will be on this planet was to try to cram as much as I could into my allotted time. Now that I am retired, I feel less driven to fill every minute and more accepting that the end will come, someday.