I smile every time I think about the fact that Jonathan and I have written a retirement book about not retiring. I know it’s weird, but weird seems to work in today’s world…
It all started about five years ago: the day I woke up and realized I didn’t want to do my corporate job anymore. Thinking like this was strange for me because I had always liked my job. I was good at it and it paid well, providing security and a good living for my family. But truth be told, over the last few years the job was starting to have a negative effect both on my health and on my personal well-being. The stress of performing at a high level year in and year out was getting to me. I was reminded of this every morning, when I took my blood pressure medication.
For a long time I hadn’t been taking proper care of myself. I wasn’t in a good spot mentally or physically and was out of balance. I had been so caught up in the competitions, titles, and salary increases along the way in my career that I had lost track of who I was in the process. I had bought into the idea that material success would eventually bring me happiness, but believe me on this, it doesn’t! I really didn’t know what would make me happy, I just knew that I didn’t like how I felt anymore. I used to laugh a lot more and I didn’t understand why that had stopped. I yearned to get rid of that nagging feeling and the sense that something needed to change. I had to slow down the pace of life and get out of the rat race.
But what was I going to do? Was retiring my only alternative? And if I did retire, to what would I be retiring? I had no idea, but I knew in my heart that a full-stop retirement just wasn’t in the cards for me: I get bored easily and the thought of possibly spending more years in retirement, with nothing to do, than I had spent in my working life scared me a little—no, make that a lot. I didn’t want my story to be, “He went to school, married, worked for a company for thirty-plus years while raising a family, then retired.” I had worked and sacrificed too much over the years to have it all end abruptly like that. My corporate job had served its purpose, but I wasn’t done yet and I knew my best days were still ahead. I wanted more—much more—out of life.
In my search for answers I visited the local library and read every retirement book I could get my hands on. Most of them were limited to the financial aspects of retirement. But then I was lucky to get my hands on a copy of Ernie Zelinski’s book How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom that You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor. This is a must-read for anyone considering retirement. (Coincidentally, while I hadn’t yet met Jonathan at the time, I recall seeing on the back cover of the book a blurb that he had contributed when he was a full-time columnist for the Financial Post.)
You won’t find the usual focus on numbers in Zelinski’s book because it deals with the emotional side of retirement, which was what I was really looking for. After finishing the book and following much reflection on my part, I knew that traditional retirement wasn’t the answer for me. Instead I felt that it would be some combination of work and leisure that would make me happy and let me spend the rest of my life making good memories. Over time, this combination of work and leisure evolved into the concept of Victory Lap Retirement.
I got lucky again one day late in 2014. While surfing the internet I came across Jonathan’s work and the Financial Independence Hub, which everyone just calls the Hub. I realized that financial independence, or Findependence as Jonathan likes to call it, should be the cornerstone and prerequisite for Victory Lap Retirement. Once you have achieved some level of Findependence, you have the confidence to focus on creating a lifestyle that will work for you after leaving your primary career behind. First comes Findependence, then comes Victory Lap: so logical, so simple, so sweet! It made sense to approach Jonathan and ask him to join me in writing this book as, after all, he was the expert on Findependence. I was thrilled when he accepted my offer to work together.
With the steady increase in the average length of human life that is resulting from continuing advancements in science and medicine, we feel Victory Laps will become the new normal and replace that long-ago-created artificial retirement finish line. In Victory Lap there is no set finish line; you create your own race and enjoy every bit of it while it lasts.