I first read “Don’t Retire – Rewire!” in 2010. The full title is “Don’t Retire – Rewire! 5 Steps to Fulfilling Work That Fuels Your Passion, Suits Your Personality, and Fills Your Pocket” by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners, a husband and wife team. Although I believe the title is perhaps a little too cute, I found this book to be a valuable resource as I contemplated my future and I have given the book to many clients since. I recently read it again in preparation for an OLLI class I will be leading at SVSU this April entitled “Someday Is Here” (see our 12/2/16 blog post). Both the book and the class address the lifestyle side of retirement as opposed to the financial side
The authors have included helpful checklists, quizzes, exercises, and quotes. Some are entertaining, others more useful. They also track four people who retired the old way and “flunked” retirement as well as four pre-retirees who reject the traditional definition of retirement and are “rewiring.”
Don’t Retire – Rewire!” Touches on the history of retirement. “Society has changed. Retirement was invented by Bismark, first chancellor of the German Empire, in the late nineteenth century, when most people didn’t live long enough to worry about what they were going to do when they stopped working. Even when Social Security was instituted in the United States in 1935, benefits began at 65 but the average life expectancy was’ only 61!”
We learn that Europeans, who are less hung up about age than Americans, use the concept that there are four ages in one’s lifetime: the first age for learning, the second age for work, the third age for living, and the fourth age for aging. Gerontologists now break the fourth stage into four separate stages, 65 - 74 young old, 75 - 84 middle old, 85 - 94 old old, and 95 + frail old.
The one best piece of advice offered, in my opinion, appears in the Introduction, “Key secret for success: Know what you’ll be leaving behind when you retire and then figure out how to replace that in the future.” If retirement means you stop doing things you love, it won’t be a happy experience. Many people don’t realize what they gain from work besides money. Work is more than just the office. You have to get there and back. Believe it or not, people miss the rituals associated with commuting – Starbucks, listening to the radio, stopping for a snack or the paper.
The section on identifying your drivers or personal motivators and linking the drivers to your activities was interesting and instructive. Drivers are what make you tic as a human being. Your drivers don’t just go away because you retire. The authors list 30 drivers, examples; #3 Authority, #4 Belonging, #6 Creativity, #22 Prestige, #24 Recognition.
Although morbid, the Legacy Quiz was thought provoking, “Imagine your funeral. Who will attend? Who do you want to deliver your eulogy? What would you like that person to say?”
Don’t Retire – Rewire!” is an ideal read about five years prior to “retirement.” The authors advise, “Use your today to build your tomorrow.” I suggest you begin dialogue with your significant other well in advance, or you could end up like Susan (one of the people interviewed by the author) who stated, “The day I came home from work and discovered that my recently retired husband had rearranged the kitchen drawers, I knew we had a problem.”