How To Retire Retirement Troubles

I’m going to make a bold statement and argument right here, right now. If you want to live your life free from most of the self-imposed anxiety many of you cower under. I’m going to state how you can put it all behind you. If, you’re serious.

I was only going to expound on this point in my next book however, I think far too many of you need to truly think about, and get your arms around it, now rather than later. What is this point? Retirement.

Too many of you are becoming paralyzed by what to do about your future and amplifying those fears by your indecision as to what you should be doing today. So – you do nothing. Rinse, repeat.

I want to give you some real food for thought. Agree or disagree with my premise all you like. All I’m suggesting is that you think. Nothing more. So with that, I’ll just make a brief argument for today.

First off, let’s agree right now to forget about waiting to make any real changes or commitments in one’s life till after the holidays. Or, waiting for the “new year” as to set some arbitrary “goals” that probably less than 1 in a hundred of you will continue by February, let alone the entire year when it comes to anything financial. If it’s serious enough (and I mean any change) that a change should be made. Make it now. If not, you’re just kidding yourself that you’ll do something using dates, symbols, unicorns, or rainbows as inspiration.

If you were bleeding you wouldn’t wait till the clock stuck 10 before applying a bandage. Emotional or worrisome bleeding falls under this same umbrella. If you’re worried or something else. The time is now to apply the remedy is it not?

Today, so many of you are held captive by the over arching fear of “doom” called retirement. Questions are asked of one’s self, i.e., “What if I don’t have enough money?” and more. Stop it! This is not an empowering way in the least of looking at your future. Let alone trying to come up with ideas as to correct it.

For many of you it’ll produce nothing more than knee jerk reactions to a load of bunk spoon feed to you through advertising campaigns designed to invoke those very feelings of anxiety over your future. Again, you have those feelings precisely as a result from being caught up in this ruse set up by the very people who profit by your insecurity. i.e., the financial/investment/media complex et al.

I’m not trying to be controversial or contrarian only for the sake of being different. I want you to really think so I’m going to ask you to ponder some thoughts or questions. You may not have the answers immediately however, from right now roll these thoughts around that noggin of yours till you can answer honestly to yourself. And, I mean honestly, not something you’ll blow off as, “Yeah, but I could never do that. That would be hard!” Or, “Well it would be nice but, I just couldn’t make such a change.” Those types of answers are not honest – they’re excuses. Period.
(Remember this is a thought exercise, I’m not saying, nor trying to allude that I’m some sort of financial adviser.)

So here’s the first part of this thought process as to set up some real questions:

If you use the age 65 as most do today as retirement. That would infer that either you or most people would stop working and need to now live from savings or retirement assets.

OK, so how much do you need if on average a person will live moderately healthy and viable to say age 85? (And many will go far beyond.) $1 million? Sorry, not a chance. In just the last 5 years your payable rate of interest doesn’t even cover today’s inflation rates. And, today, we basically have no inflation. (As per the data sets used)

There was a time you could conceivably receive 5% almost risk free, (Just 5 years ago!) but today? Not a chance. So, to generate the same $50K per year off that $1 million some thought sufficient just 5 years ago. Now needs about $4 or $5 million to generate that same $50K. (Don’t let the weight of that math fall by the way side. It’s imperative to really grasp that example.)

And, forget about the old term “risk free.” That is long gone. There is nothing any longer that is even considered “risk free.” No matter what anyone tells you. So, I need to ask: Do you have enough? Or, well along enough as to not worry? My guess for many will be – no. (Never mind the people who were already retired thinking they were set.)

Fair enough. However, that doesn’t change that you need an answer. You either must figure out how you’re going to amass those millions of $’s now needed over and above your original goal. (Which by all means is very possible, but don’t confuse my main point) Or, you are going to have to do something else. There is no alternative. Just “what” is the all important question. The problem with most is the numbers or calculations seem just so far out of reach the only thing they do is to now ignore it. Which places one back into that vortex producing nothing but more feelings of anxiety or helplessness.

If you want control of your life you are going to have to do something about it. Or, you are not only going to have to live with that nagging fear the rest of your adult life. But, (and it’s a very big but) what can be far worse, that picture you fear in the future actually can be far worse later on down the road than you visualize it today. That’s not an understatement. Just look around you to anyone that put their financial faith and well-being anywhere else other – than in themselves. For some the consequences have been devastating.

Again, understand the true ramifications. Really get it in your gut. This is not a game where nothing bad can happen. The game of life doesn’t play games. That’s not a play on words.

So the question for you is this: What can you do about it? Today, not tomorrow. Right now, that proves once and for all that you’re in control of your life and destiny. Regardless of what happens in the markets, economy, the world, what ever.

Here’s my suggestion for you to contemplate. However, let me be right up front and honest in stating – it is probably the hardest undertaking and self-analysis you’ll ever embark in since reaching adulthood. Because this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road, when one decides, then commits, to improving ones life or future. If you believe I’m just throwing hyperbole out there, I’ll follow it by saying the easier of the choices I propose here is probably earning or acquiring the millions of extra $’s. (Hopefully I have your attention still.)

Here’s my argument to consider…

If you decided today that you would no longer buy into the construct of “retirement” as it is now known. That you would continue to work well past the age of 65 only, that you would be doing work that you loved to do. Work that could, and would, supply you with an income stream that more than covered your expenses. (I mean that generates actual, real, legal tender that is accepted by any bank as a deposit. A vocation – not a hobby. Although some hobbies can be turned into true businesses.)  How much money would you now need to retire that would also last you far into the unforeseen future? Answer: Around zero. Because real retirement is a state of mind – not bank balances.

Your retirement is based on the strength you give you, and your decisions. Not on the strength of your bank balances. And – the last 5 years should be more than proof to anyone that what’s in the bank ain’t always all that reliable.

You don’t need to take my word for this way of thinking. Let me read you a quote from my foremost personal hero some of you may know of, Napoleon Hill. (From his recently discovered and released work Outwitting The Devil ©2011 The Napoleon Hill Foundation – Sterling New York (imprint of Sterling Publishing)

“Material and financial fortunes, when reduced to their most liquid terms, are measurable in terms of bank balances. Bank balances are no stronger than banks.”

So with that in mind I ask you: Where is the prudent place to fortify one’s self against the perils inherent in the “retirement” question?
Solely placing your faith and interest in today’s banks for your security or balances? Or, placing one’s interest, paying compounded dividends, that pay off in more than just solidifying one against future turmoil by putting one’s precious fortune (discretionary time and earning power) directly under and in the total control of one’s self?
(This is not to say I’m advocating for one not to save or contribute to retirement savings. Saving and savings is a prudent requisite for everyone.)

I’ll follow that up with another very bold statement (As if I would state something other?) If you’re brave enough, you can retire (mentally) right now. Ending the emotional roller-coaster of fear you’ve probably been riding with no light at the end of some tunnel. (Yes…I just said that.)

Think deeply about it. Don’t blow it off. I mean really think. The consequences on how you answer it can be profound once you understand the implications contained within.

Let me further illuminate what I’m trying to convey using this example:

No matter where you are in life. Whether 20 something or 50 something. (you can be older there’s no age limit) If what you are currently doing has a cut off date. i.e., mandatory retirement. And, you dislike the job or career path. Why not engage (as in start learning or beginning to build it now) in something you love to do that can provide you a living that covers your expenses. Something that if you were given the opportunity to do or start – you wouldn’t or couldn’t dream of ever not doing? i.e., If you’re currently a _________(fill in the blank) and you must give it up at age 65 however you love fixing lawnmowers with a passion. Start working in what ever spare time you have to build a lawnmower repair business? (The key distinction there is business…not pastime.) You fill in the blank and change the business that fits you. Then…consider the implications.

Add to all this, the satisfaction of knowing that if you ever found or liked something different, (or even better) along the path: You could just change direction and do that. Forever if you want. No retirement what so ever unless you say so. Along with your earning power and the ability for it to increase even further, rather than decreasing with time. Is that alone not worth the price of consideration?

70 – 80 – 90 – 100. Doesn’t matter. As long as you want to continue and can get paid for your work. You continue.

If you can buy into this line of thinking then begin by adding what you need to start such a journey into your life today. And run with it. Run like Forest Gump would run. Just run! Leaving the shackles to fall by the way side not caring how or why they fell. Just run! And don’t look back.

Again, really think about what I just proposed. Put yourself in that moment and contemplate: What it would be like for you? What would that do to your psyche? Not only in the future but rather – right now!

Do movie actors or actresses say “OK, I’m 65 I’m done!” Tell that to Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, or any of the others in their latest films. (lest we forget George Burns who still took bookings for his 100th birthday)

How about people such as Jesse James the motorcycle builder? Think at 65 he’s just going to say, “Yep, I’ll just go watch the birds sing now.” I doubt it. Or, forget about all the “stars” per se. How about the local tattoo artist, musician, painter, writer, lawyer, doctor, et al. The ones that truly love what they are doing with a passion. You couldn’t stop them from showing up to their shops if you barred the doors. And, you know this to be true for you’ve seen them for yourselves. You’ve probably even commented silently, “Why are they still doing it?”

Why? For many it’s because they love it. Sure there may be some that have to, but for the many that still love what they do, the fear that you may be harboring is not part of their thinking. Or better yet – not their burden. They’re living on their terms, not some Madison Avenue, Wall Street centered celluloid representation of what “retirement” is or “should be.”

Again, it doesn’t matter if they have millions of dollars in the bank or not. If they (or you) are still viable, still creating, still earning, they (again, or you) don’t have to shoulder the unwanted burden of: “I don’t or won’t ever have enough to retire. So I’ll live a life of fearing I’ll never have enough.” 

No, they live and continue to produce on their terms. Regardless of any age beliefs far too many impose on themselves. And they love living to do it. But again, that’s the hard part for most to understand and begin striving for. Actually, for many – it’s far harder than trying to earn the millions of $’s they think they need. Although, I’ll say again, “Earning the millions is probably easier for most than changing their thoughts.”

How can I say such a thing? Well to be truthful here’s the real reason…
“Not earning the millions of $’s can be blamed on anything or everything except themselves. Not changing ones thoughts can only be blamed on yourself.”
Which is exactly where the crux of any change lies. Shrug the implications of that statement off at your own peril. Because in the end, that’s all everything in life boils down to.

Where one places both the responsibility and the blame is paramount. Get that part correctly in one’s mind, and the rest falls into place as if magically.

Look hypothetically at what your expenses would be weekly or monthly at age 65. Sit down alone somewhere quiet then imagine doing work you loved that provided income that covered those expenses. i.e., selling X goods, or, providing some service, etc.

You can start moving your life towards that direction immediately for probably little to no money right now. Whether it be part-time from your basement, or just to start learning the necessary skills to do it in the future. (go to tattoo school, or what ever.) And you’re done. You’ve just solved your retirement issues. Because – you’re not retiring. Just retiring from what others believe it is. (Which is an uplifting experience in itself.)

Remember, the person writing this and asking you to think different, is a person that started his career unloading sides of beef from rail trucks to then work his way up the corporate ladder to eventually run one of the largest companies in that field. Then retired at the age of 45 nearly a decade ago while everyone else around him said, “Sure, good luck with that.” All without even graduating high school.

So I not only understand the “change your thinking” process better than most. My life is an open book to tell you, If I can change – so can you. For it’s your thinking that cracks the oyster of life open for you. But only you can do it for you. No one else.

This also gives me the authority to share or to tell you from experience that retirement as many envision it (I was one of these myself) is not what one first dreams, or imagines it to be like. For as another one of my heroes Ozzy Osborne once stated when asked why he was recording another record and launching a world tour after he retired just a few years earlier. He said, “Retirement Sucks!”

I couldn’t agree with him more.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr