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“Reinventing Retirement: 389 Bright Ideas about Family, Friends, Health, What to Do and Where to Live”

Reinventing Retirement : 389 Bright Ideas About Family, Friends, Health, What to Do, and Where to LiveReview by Robert L. McClelland, Esq., Lexington, Kentucky

Reinventing Retirement, by Miriam Goodman

When I look for a book on retirement planning, I want more than a financial planning book.  Although financial planning is very important, retirement planning is broader. After all, isn’t our pursuit in “retirement” to “finally” be doing the things we want to do?  If so, Reinventing Retirement, 389 Bright Ideas about Family, Friends, Health, What to Do and Where to Live, is a well written and thorough summary by Miriam Goodman, of things we need to focus on in order to make that goal reality.  Retirement planning is not a “defensive” strategy.  It is an “offensive” strategy that needs a guide book.

Goodman introduces a “new disease now striking millions of otherwise healthy baby boomers … Retirement Anxiety.”  She describes it as our inability [unwillingness] to address our own futures.  She emphasizes, “It is essential to think of it as a beginning, not as an end.”

Reinventing Retirement is dedicated “To Peter Pan.”  As the eternal child did for Wendy and her siblings, Goodman wants to free the reader’s mind from years of constraint, boundaries created by ourselves, our families and life circumstances.  The book is an effort by Goodman to permit our dreams to fly.  Unburdened by employment, while still drawing a paycheck, whether adequate or just nearly adequate, Goodman sets our course to pre-plan every aspect of our lives and to regularly re-assess how to make the most of the next phase. “Retirement is both a challenge and an opportunity to be embraced with enthusiasm.”  Goodman seems to have a grasp of the issue:  what does my retirement mean and how do I prepare and make the most of it?

I like this book because it is not a financial planning book.  This book is a practical guide to help focus the reader on multiple areas of life after work with proactive planning for the myriad of demands in retirement.  If not now, when?

Planning for “retirement” is (or should be) a current topic of discussion for the largest generation of retiring Americans.  Personally, like so many of our peers, we are too busy to discuss it.  But, practically, we have to.  Goodman writes, “Reinventing Retirement is designed to make it easier for you to assess your retirement needs and consider useful and valuable approaches to meeting them.”  She styles her writing as a personal agenda for the reader, much like a workbook.

The book outlines for the reader, literally with physical notebook tabs at the section breaks, a retiree’s eight (8) general areas of focus:  Work, Play, Home, Relationships, Finances, Health, What’s Next and Resources.  Consistent with the argument that a single book cannot solve all the issues for one’s retirement planning in detail, Reinventing Retirement is a guide.  Therefore, the last section on Resources finishes the “workbook” with where to go in order to get details of each general topic.

If few “Boomers” want to confront the issues, Goodman has an informal easy reading style that allows us to accept the subject(s) while avoiding any well-deserved guilt for not having “put away for the future.”  This book does not point fingers; it describes how to accept our individual situations and to make the most of our available retirement options.  Her approach is coherent, clear, gentle and concise, without intimidating technical advice that so often causes one to switch to the television as an alternative.  I read the 170 page text in a couple of relaxed evenings.

There is a psychology to retirement planning.  The book is structured to emphasize that retirement is not just about financial planning.  Work, Play, Home and Relationships precede Finances as topics.  Goodman focuses on what the majority of our life issues will be concerned with.  The transitions most of us will face involve these topics.  The bottom lines, Health and What’s Next, underscore that in order to enjoy this phase of our lives, we must affirmatively take steps to maintain our health and continually accept that we will be facing opportunities for change or being ‘forced’ to accept conditions placed upon us against our will.  Although there are limits to how much specific recommendations might add to such a work, and it may tend to change the character of the style, I would appreciated footnotes to the resources in the last section to help jump-start my planning.

Reinventing Retirement does not so much give the answers as provide the questions for anyone planning for retirement or wanting to make the most out of their next phase of life.  It is an interesting book, with an easy manner, useful to its audience.  I appreciated the book’s approach as a “whole foods” planning guide with a broad emphasis on living fully the retirement experience.  I found this work a good starter for anyone beginning the retirement planning process and I recommend it.

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