Learn to Play The Long Game

Today’s article is the first in a series written by Simon Chan who started his own VLR earlier this year after working for 20 years in the financial services industry. He has a broad base of experience with the subjects of pre-retirement and financial independence having worked in multiple businesses such as banking, wealth management, insurance and group retirement benefits. Most recently Simon was the head of business strategy for the Canadian Retail Business for a global insurer. In his role, he became interested in how technology, globalization and the rapidly changing environment is impacting the lives of millennials. In short Simon knows his stuff, is a great guy and wants to help.

I believe it’s important that we understand the new challenges that will be faced by our kids and grandkids in the years ahead. It won’t be easy but we can succeed if we all work together. -Mike 

 

 This morning I woke up and as part of my daily routine, I began to read my Twitter feed to catch on the latest basketball news and what’s been happening in the world. Over the past several weeks, I’ve seen several articles on the rapidly changing workplace with the entry of new technologies like artificial intelligence and machines learning. This got me thinking about the “Big Dip” article that I read on the   Victory Lap Retirement blog and whether Millennials who are in the early stages of their lives will experience the “Big Dip” in the same way as the Boomer generation.  

The Early Years (A) 

When I think of what Millennials are dealing with early in their lives and careers my belief is they are facing a much more difficult road than Boomers. Millennials are entering a globally competitive job market which has made post-secondary education table stakes resulting in students taking increasing amounts of debt. In addition to the pressures of school and finding an entry level job to begin the process of paying off their student debt, Millennials are bombarded with marketing messages encouraging them to spend and buy new products. No wonder we are seeing the incidence of anxiety, stress and depression increase in university students and young adults. They feel paralyzed and in constant stake of anxiety. 

The Valley (B) 

Both Boomers and Millennials enter their 30s/40s with increasing levels of responsibility which starts them down the big dip as the mounting obligations of getting married, growing a family, buying a home begin to reduce their financial flexibility and overall freedom. However, Millennials today are entering their 30s already behind the proverbial “8 ball” with higher levels of student debt, historically high housing prices making housing almost unaffordable, and an uncertain job market. To make matters worse, most Millennials will not have access to traditional financial building blocks such as a defined benefit pension plan that provides a guaranteed retirement income stream leaving them to decide how much to save and what investments to choose. This has led some Millennials to reject the path their boomer parents took and consider non-traditional paths such as not having children, rejecting the notion of buying a home, and taking more of a minimalist approach to life.  

The Bumpy Climb (C) 

As Boomers reached their late 40s and 50s, they began to experience more freedom as their children moved out of the home, their incomes began to rise, and financial obligations were declining. For most of their working careers, Boomers had stable jobs and a good pension plan to rely on in retirement. As Millennials reach a similar stage it their lives, the world will not be as stable and constant change will be the new normal. The constant change will result in the need to consider relocation to find work, going back to school to re-skill to remain relevant, and other working models such as freelance and being an entrepreneur. This stage will require Millennials to make multiple life transitions which will create stress both financially and emotionally. This creates questions like how will a Millennial fund these multiple life transitions and will they need to dip into their “retirement” savings. Will Millennials have the resilience to adapt to the ever-changing environment? 

What does this mean? 

My belief is that the Millennial version of the “Big Dip” will be much more challenging than the ones that Boomers experienced. Their journey to higher levels of freedom will be slower than the Boomer generation and will require more life transitions. This means the traditional path to success that the Boomers took is no longer relevant for Millennials. Millennials will need to find a way to play the “Long Game” and develop a new agile approach to maneuver in their constantly changing world.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Your Confidence Back

I rarely get this question when I give my Victory Lap presentations, but I know it is top of mind for many in the audience and I suspect for many of you reading. I know many of the people I speak with did not really want to stop working. Many have worked at the same career for years and now they are scared/uncertain about the future. The question they want to ask, which I will ask for them is: “Am I good enough to get hired again?”

 

Continue reading “Getting Your Confidence Back”

Every Picture Tells a Story

 

 

 

Another RRSP season is now behind us and I don’t know if it’s just me but this one seemed more low key than usual. Maybe Mr. Trump was hogging all the airwaves this time around?

What concerns me is that the advertisers continue to sell us a version of retirement that doesn’t reflect the current reality for many people. The images of the carefree happy couple sitting on a beach while sipping on a strawberry daiquiri, or the couple sailing on a yacht, smiling with the sun shining and the wind blowing through their hair.           Continue reading “Every Picture Tells a Story”

Retired Me? No Way!

The other day I was at my local bank branch doing some business and the teller asked me how I was enjoying my retirement. Hearing that surprised me but then I realized that they had a message on their computer system that identified me as a retired employee of the bank.

For some reason I felt the need to defend myself and started to explain that I in fact was not retired, that I was busier than ever running my blog, selling my book, serving as a retirement coach and doing public speaking. But then I had a sudden change of heart and decided to stop what I was doing. I realized that defending myself was the OLDME raising its ugly head again and I don’t like OLDME anymore. Continue reading “Retired Me? No Way!”

Why People Like Me Can’t Retire


Last Thursday I made a presentation on Victory Lap Retirement, followed by a Q & A session at the Toronto Public Library – York Woods branch. I love doing these presentations as it gives me an opportunity to present to my fellow boomers and find out what is going on out there in the real world.

After having talked to numerous boomers I’m convinced more than ever that the majority of us boomers really don’t want to retire, we just need a change, and some help figuring out what to do with the rest of our lives.

In this article I would like to share my thoughts on why some people feel the need for a significant change late in their careers and why traditional retirement is not the answer. I know these feelings because it happened to me.  Continue reading “Why People Like Me Can’t Retire”

In Pursuit Of Boomer Happiness

I was at my local Indigo bookstore this past 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.

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”.

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 reduce 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 and then climbing 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 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.

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

 

Mike

Back At The Pool Again

Last night I finally got back in the pool again. It’s been about three years since I last swam at my community pool and it was quite a struggle just to get there. My original plan was to begin swimming in early January, but I caught a terrible cold followed by a dry cough that just didn’t want to go away, which ultimately delayed my return.

I was away from swimming for a long time because I got caught up writing my book Victory Lap Retirement. I’ve always had the bad habit of going “all-in” on a new endeavor. It consumed me, which is not a very good thing, and there are consequences to living like that. More importantly my wife the Contessa didn’t take it very well. Something about getting up every morning at 4:30 to write and then falling asleep on the couch around 9:00 every night, probably had something to do with it! Continue reading “Back At The Pool Again”

No One Told Me It Would Be Like This

There is something very wrong with the work world today. It is far too common to find employees who are tired, over-worked, stressed out, and living in fear of an uncertain future. As a result, people are eating too much, watching too much television, and complaining too much, often self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol or taking prescription medication to cope with their stress. How can it be that in North America, with two of the most prosperous societies in the world,  people are taking more medications for anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders than ever before?

Blame it on the big dip. Continue reading “No One Told Me It Would Be Like This”