What do Baby Boomers and elite athletes have in common? Yes, they enjoy sports, albeit from a very different perspective. And they both retire from their careers. But one of the many things they do not have in common is the age at which they retire. Most boomers do so in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Elite athletes do so in their 20s, 30s, and sometimes 40s—and even sometimes in their teens.
In my recently-published book, "After the Cheering Stops: A Retirement Game Plan for Elite Athletes and Baby Boomer Career Professionals Seeking a New Future," I’ve used an athletic construct to introduce the concepts of retirement life planning to elite athletes. And, as it turns out, the construct works for Baby Boomers as well.
Before we look at the book’s construct, there’s one more point to make about retiring boomers. In 2010 Keith Lawrence and I published our book about retirement life planning, "Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement." Since then, we’ve continued to engage with boomers in workshops that we conduct around the country, and we’ve continued to learn. One thing we’ve learned is that, in general, and I stress in general, men have a more difficult time engaging in the retirement life planning discussion and making the transition than do women.
One intent of "After the Cheering Stops" is to use the sports construct to engage male boomers in the retirement discussion. What is that construct? Consider what it takes for an elite athlete to be successful in his or her sport, and then consider how that applies to winning in retirement.
Athletes take time to understand the playing field they’ll be competing on and the environment around them. Which way is the wind blowing? Where are the shadows? Is the turf soft or hard? Where are the steep hills on the course? Retirees benefit from knowing the retirement playing field. What are the possible challenges? Where are the tough hills? What might the opportunities be? Where is the track fast? Athletes and boomers alike should take the time to become aware of the retirement playing field before the game starts.
Athletes, with help from their coaches, build a winning team. Even athletes in individual sports have a team that supports them. Retirees should also build their team to include financial teammates, life teammates (such as their family, close friends, and clergy), well-being teammates (such as doctors and personal trainers). Importantly, just like an athletic team, all retirement teammates should be on the same game plan.
Athletes develop a winning game plan. They understand their strengths and plan to take advantage of them. They understand their weaknesses and plan to improve that phase of their performance and work around those areas not yet improved. So should a retiree think about these things prior to retirement. In both "Your Retirement Quest" and "After the Cheering Stops," pre-retirees are prompted to assess how they are doing relative to the “10 key elements of a fulfilling retirement.” Assess where you are, and then develop your game plan.
Few understand the value of practice more than elite athletes. They and boomers alike can practice their retirement life game plan by bringing aspects of it into their lives while still in their careers, making the transition into retirement much smoother.
The final aspect of the sports construct recognizes that a game plan must be adjusted as in-game circumstances change. So too do life circumstances change such that a retiree must be ready to change the retirement life game plan to adjust to new conditions.
Understand the retirement playing field, build your team, develop your game plan, practice, and make adjustments—a winning approach even "After the Cheering Stops."
Alan Spector is an author, business consultant, baseball player, traveler, and grandfather. He has authored six published books, including, with coauthor Keith Lawrence, "Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement" (www.YourRetirementQuest.com). Alan and Keith conduct workshops across the country helping prospective and current retirees plan the non-financial aspects of their retirement—to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives. Alan’s latest two books are "Body Not Recovered," a work of historical fiction from the Vietnam War/Protest Movement era, and "After the Cheering Stops," which helps both elite athletes and baby boomers create a winning retirement game plan.