Forget your politics. Former President Jimmy Carter just turned 95, still teaches Sunday school, and is planning on volunteering for a Nashville Habitat for Humanity project. His wife of 73 years is still around as well. There is so much to say here it’s hard to capture all my thoughts. He’s had cancer, a hip replacement, he’s old and he still volunteers! He’s been married 73 years to the same wife. Come on! Really?
Well, clearly they take good care of themselves and surely have just good genes, but the part that I find most amazing is that he is still giving back. His life is still with purpose, and he’s finding a way to make other’s lives better. He could be playing golf, he could be cruising on a yacht, he could be watching old movies in a beat-up recliner as old as he is, but instead, he is planning a volunteer adventure. Now, I don’t know if he does any of those other things, he might, but even if he did, he is still planning on doing something useful with himself. Kudos to him.
I’m surrounded by seniors who stay in shape and continue to work in some capacity. On my daily trips to the YMCA, I encounter sinewy seniors in their red speedos swimming laps. I’m a lap swimmer, but I’m not competitive in the pool, and these gals can certainly outswim me. It’s a little bit intimidating. In fact, it’s plenty intimidating but I still show up. Of course, there are buff young dudes pumping iron in the weight room but that doesn’t faze me. It’s the 80-year-old guys that impress me, regardless of how much they can bench press. The fact is that it is 5 am and they are bench pressing. I see these same folks around town. Physicians still treating patients, even though it may be a reduced caseload, former teachers serving turnovers at the bakery, and writers hosting readings from their 13th book of their series. These people don’t quit, and I want to be one of them.
There are also a host of senior financial advisors, financial planners, and CPAs, I have admired who continue to sit with their clients, hear their stories, and provide well-seasoned guidance. Those are my true heroes. I want to stay in good shape and keep a sound mind so I can be one of those guys, join their club.
All of this clearly indicates that I believe in a different form of retirement than has been depicted in movies. This is not a rocking chair kind of retirement, nor a shelling peas on the front porch kind either. It’s an engaged and purpose filled one. But, an important point is this, just because I value that kind of retirement does not mean that I cannot respect someone’s need to relax by the pool, take the cruise, and never look at work again. That’s their choice. Just as we all have different politics, we all have different viewpoints and values.
I have sat with enough people to know that some careers have been life zapping. Some jobs may have been financially fulfilling but not emotionally rewarding. In fact, for many, those jobs fattened the retirement plan but sucked the life right out of them. They need a break, they need to get away. They never want to review another spreadsheet, read another x-ray film, or tangle with their business partners ever again. They need to hit the reset button and that reset button may be found in an RV as they cross the Continental Divide.
How you envision your retirement is your choice. You make those decisions based on your values, on the kind of career you have chosen, and on what your body allows you to do. A Habitat for Humanity Project may not be your fit. What’s important to you is just that, important to you. How you choose to spend your retirement savings is also your choice. It is your money, and you get to spend it the way you like. My role as an advisor is not to tell you how to lead your life or spend your money. My primary role as an advisor is to listen to you, hear what is most important to you then help you manage your funds in a way that allows you to reach your goals, lead your life the way you want. Those are the stories I want to hear, for a very long time.