I READ A LOT—and every now and then I come across an “aha” book that ends up changing the course of my life. Here are two of the most important:
In my mid-50s, I wasn’t happy in my banking job. The stress was starting to get to me. Don’t get me wrong: I was good at my job and it paid well. But it no longer gave me what I needed. The thrill was gone. I had no personal goals, no real purpose. Just hanging on ‘til the finish line isn’t a very good way to go through life.
I read somewhere that, to de-stress, it was helpful to go for a walk. At lunchtime, I’d go out for a stroll. I would usually walk to the local pharmacy to test my blood pressure. More often than not, it would be red-lining.
I knew I had to do something before something bad happened. But it’s hard to leave a good-paying job late in your career. I can’t tell you how many hours I wasted looking at pension projections to calculate how much I’d lose by leaving early.
I began visiting the library to read books on retirement. One day, I got my hands on Zelinski’s book. After reading it, I knew exactly what I had to do. His book helped me avoid spending another seven years at the bank, dying a little bit each day.
When I was suffering from the shock of retirement, my son took me to a seminar. Godin was the keynote speaker, and he gave everyone a free copy of his book. The title—What to Do When It’s Your Turn—haunted me for a long time. Reading it resulted in one of my biggest “aha” moments, when everything started to make sense.
I suddenly knew exactly what I needed to do from that day forward. It felt like Godin was personally challenging me to take action, so I could achieve the lasting happiness I was after. He was telling me that it was now up to me to gain control of my future, and achieve the life that I’d always wanted.
I had paid my dues. I’d met my responsibilities to my family and achieved financial independence. Because of that, I’d earned the chance to do whatever I wanted with my newfound freedom. Reading that book helped me escape from retirement hell. It set me on a path to figure out who I really was—and what I wanted to become.
It made me realize that retirement wasn’t the end goal I’d been striving for, but rather a new beginning. I had a chance to live the rest of my life on my own terms. I’d learned there’s a big difference between being retired and having a great life.
I owe a big debt of gratitude to Zelinski and Godin. Reading their books saved me, and put me on track to change my life for the better.
What books have you read that had a similar impact on you?
Mike Drak is a 38-year veteran of the financial services industry. He’s the author of Retirement Heaven or Hell, which was published in 2021, as well as an earlier book, Victory Lap Retirement. Mike works with his wife, an investment advisor, to help clients design a fulfilling retirement. For more on Mike, head to BoomingEncore.com. Check out his earlier articles.