Most retirement books are focused solely on the financial aspect of retirement but as many of us are now learning there is much more to a successful retirement. The ultimate goal in retirement should be a simplistic, low stress, healthy, fulfilling lifestyle. This will ultimately optimize the quality of our remaining years. Stop believing that the more money you have saved, translates into a better retirement. Life doesn’t work that way.
BEST BEFORE DATE
Everyone talks about increased longevity but that does not excite me. Stretching my life from 85 to 95 isn’t appealing, if I’m going to spend the bulk of that extra time sitting in a nursing home. My mother lives in a nursing home and I’d rather do my best to live life to the fullest and not end up there. I’m toying with the idea of a Viking funeral where the Contessa pushes me away from shore in my fishing boat and then shoots a flaming arrow into the gas tank. Originally I was going to follow an old Inuit practice of being put out on an ice flow when you no longer contribute to the community, but I gave up on that idea as I really hate the cold.
All joking aside what we should care about is our “best before date”, that period of disability free living, when we can still do the things that we love to do be it golfing, painting, working or whatever. The good news is that we have learned that we can extend the best before date by making positive lifestyle changes. Making positive lifestyle changes is key to having a successful and rewarding Victory Lap.
The Blue Zones
As I researched for my Victory Lap I discovered a book written by Dan Buettner called “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”. I was excited after reading it because it put the science behind what I believed to be true and I preaching in my Victory Lap Retirement book and blogs. Dan’s work, reinforced by other scientific studies, confirmed that lifestyle, not genes is the chief determinant of how long a person lives.
Dan along with a group from National Geographic scoured the earth to locate places that had not only the highest concentration of centenarians, but also the lowest incidence of age related problems like heart disease, obesity, cancer or diabetes. They identified five such places in the world they dubbed “‘Blue Zones”. After much research they were able to create a list of common denominators that delivered a long and healthy life. Some of the key factors were regular exercise, nutrition, socialization, and having purpose or as we like to call it, “a good reason to get out of bed in the morning”. By using these people living in Blue Zones as our role models, we can incorporate their core lifestyle practices into our daily habits, odds are we will be living longer and healthier lives.
Aging Well Is A Conscious Choice
A fundamental premise of Victory Lap is that work, paid or unpaid can deliver on a number of Blue Zone core lifestyle practices. There are many benefits derived from continuing to work, it lowers stress, keeps you mentally fit by solving problems and learning new things. It forces you to get off the couch and hopefully gets you physically fit. Provides the opportunity to socialize. Gives you purpose and a good reason to get out of bed in the morning, finally added income lessens the risk of running out of money in retirement.
Like most things in life that are worthwhile planning is important. Take time to think about and plan this retirement thing out. Traditional full-stop retirement in an antiquated concept and not the best way to go. Hopefully people are starting to understand that they need to stop spending so much time worrying about accumulating a giant nest egg, causing them to miss out on living a great life now and in the future. Instead focus your efforts on designing your Victory Lap Lifestyle that makes financial sense but also optimizes the overall quality of our remaining years. I don’t want to be the one to break it to you, but… sitting on a beach all day drinking Pina Coladas just isn’t going to do it for you after a week or two, OK maybe three. Think about it!