There’s always something to howl about

Retirement Ain’t For Everyone

Just because you’ve found yourself in a position to quit your day job, and sail into the sunset, should you?

If we assume you’re financially set and your Purposeful Plan has found the cool end of the rainbow, what will you do? So many of us use artificial rest stops in our lives as an excuse to do one thing or another.

My dad sat down one weekend and set a business goal for himself with a 10 year time period for its accomplishment. Big problem. He was one of those guys born with only one gear — overdrive. For nearly five straight years he worked with less than a total (not counting a few sick days here and there) of 30 days off.

He was definitely a thinker, but once he believed he’d figured something out, either lead the way, follow, or get mowed down, ‘cuz he was gonna get to Point B. His motto was given to him by his sixth grade teacher when he pointed his finger at 11 year old Dad and said, “Don’t make excuses Brown, make good!” And he did. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and at least for Dad the problem was simple.

He never seemed to ask himself about life after achieving a goal. Like so many investors who read books and buy videos to learn how to buy investment property, he never asked a crucial question, much less come up with the answer.

Then what?

Just like buying real estate investments — anyone can buy something. Is it the right something? If so, and it rises in value — then what? Uh oh. Planning for retirement begs the ‘then what?’ question like a puppy happily wagging his tail who won’t go away. Figure out what your ‘then what?’ is and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

There was the story he told me about having some drinks after work one evening with some friends. They got to talking about business, as they all owned their own real estate firms. Before he knew what was happening, the conversation had veered sharply into the topic of goals. One by one they began to reveal their goals — both successes and failures.

Dad was very much a close to the vest kinda guy, and that’s being kind. He made CIA agents look like town criers. Still, these were some of his best friends and they wanted him to take his turn. So he did. (I’m sure several Jacks helped.) After a few minutes he was finished, and nobody was really saying much. Finally one of them said, “Doyle, it’s great to have lofty goals, but that simply can’t be done — in only 10 years? No way.”

Dad was the poster child in many ways for walking spherical void. Yet for his friends that night he just smiled and agreed the goal was indeed a lofty one. He didn’t want to tell them that it was just 5½ years since he wrote the goal down, and he’d already surpassed it six months earlier. True story.

So in the spring of 1970 he began preparing for retirement, though he’d never admit that’s what he was doing. He golfed daily — 12:15 tee off. His handicap sank like an anchor. He became bored. Went to law school, passed the bar, and opened shop.

Got bored again.

He was never satisfied with his retirement, never. In my opinion he was one of those guys who shoulda never turned in his office keys. He never found the rush when he stopped working. Ever met one of those people who simply couldn’t function without taking the contrary position? On every freakin’ thing? That’s how he decided what to do next. It had to be something he knew folks would poopoo.

How ’bout you? I’ll speak for myself — I’ll stop working full time, but I’ll always be in the game. I think I have a diluted version of Dad’s gene. Seriously though, we must all plan for the part of retiring having nothing to do with finances.

What will we do? Where will we live? And while we’re at it, how healthy will we be? Exactly what will we be able to have on our retirement menu? You gonna ski at 81? The last marathon I ran, there was an 80-something year old couple who crossed the finish line together cackling like teenagers. Will we be able to do things like that if we wanna? I plan to. That’s why I’m in the gym six days a week doin’ CrossFit workouts.

Retiring isn’t just having more than enough stable income. It’s the other 99% of life.

So when yer puttin’ together your Purposeful Plan, don’t forget the other side of the coin — the 99% side.

Dad was never able to do that, and I think that’s a big part of why he was so bad at it. I can see myself umpiring Little League games when I’m older than Moses. Just the thought makes me smile. I envision myself at 80 callin’ balls and strikes on 12 year olds. How cool is that?

What things in your retirement are gonna put a smile on your face? No matter what, always remember — it’s gonna come from the 99% side.

Related posts:
  • Your Retirement — A Few Questions
  • Real Estate Investing For Retirement – 2 Schools of Thought
  • Tick Tock — The Retirement Clock Is Counting Down


    7 Comments so far

    1. Rob Chipman December 15th, 2009 3:33 pm


      You write better than I think. Great post. Just like Purposeful Planning, I want to steal it and call it my own. Thanks for getting it into words.

    2. Jeff Brown December 15th, 2009 4:14 pm

      Very kind words, Rob. Thanks

    3. Ryan Crozier December 16th, 2009 12:45 am

      I have a hard time seeing myself in retirement. I think I will always want to be an active person and have some sort of income. I definitely don’t want to have my life pass me by while trying to “earn a living” and “provide for my family”. We try to keep things simple, so we can enjoy life! My goal is build a solid real estate business that can eventually be sold or maintained by staff!

    4. Vance Shutes December 16th, 2009 2:24 pm


      I’m a big fan of “Begin with the end in mind,” That said, even though MY retirement is a long way off, I already have a picture in my mind’s eye of what I want it to look like – what I’ll do to stay occupied. My 90-year-old Dad and my 80-year-old Father-in-law have certainly blazed the trail for me, and what I’ve learned the most from watching them is the whole concept of pace.

      You rather touch on it with your Dad – his “overdrive”. When you’re working, you always have plenty to do. As a result, those of us who work tend to get more done by 9am than retirees get done before dinner. They “pace” themselves differently than we do, as they have more time to get things done. And that strikes me as the most important part of the picture in my mind’s eye of my own retirement – what “pace” I’ll want to lead.

      Just something to think about between posting skins on the wall….

    5. Jeff Brown December 16th, 2009 2:32 pm

      A good point, Vance. In this context, pace often translates to having balance or not. Sounds like your ‘dads’ have things well in tow.

      Obsessed folks before retirement don’t turn into relaxed, go with the flow types in retirement — at least not that I’ve observed.

    6. James Boyer December 17th, 2009 6:23 am

      Jeff, you do write very well. You have me thinking, as I have been planning all these different things to get me to success, but not thinking about what happens after that.

      Time to start thinking some more I guess.

      Happy holidays.


    7. Jeff Brown December 17th, 2009 7:30 am

      Thank you, James. I think when visualized, gettin’ to retirement and retirement itself are synergistic. The more you can see yourself in the retirement you want, the more effective you become in getting yourself there.

      Happy Holidays, Jim.