Keith J. Weber, CFP, CPRC – Rethinking Retirement

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My latest book is called Rethinking Retirement – How to Create the Life You Want Without Waiting to Retire. Over 20 years as a Certified Financial Planner, I had hundreds of people say to me, “I don’t want to retire to sit back and do nothing. I want to retire so I can finally go do what I’ve always wanted!” But with actual retirement getting harder to achieve, people need to know there is a way to do what you’ve always wanted that doesn’t require retiring first.

Tell us something about yourself.

This book was in large part inspired by a personal health crisis. I was definitely on the fast track in the career rat race when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 40. All of sudden, all those things I had been spending my time and energy on didn’t seem that important anymore. While I had been experiencing tremendous career and financial success, I had little social life, barely saw my family, had become spiritually disconnected and had no outside interests. And the worst part is I really didn’t like the job I was spending all my time and energy at! I had become one of the “walking wounded” doing all that I could to accumulate enough money so that one day I could retire and not have to work anymore. I was working so hard on creating a future that I forgot to create a life in the present.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

This book is intended for baby boomers – especially 2nd half boomers (those born 1956-1965) who are now becoming known as “Generation Jones.” I fear these 2nd half boomers are going to face a particularly difficult time reaching the idealized vision that retirement has become. We’ve all grown up thinking there would be three sources of income to support our retirement – Social Security, an employer’s pension and our own personal savings. Unfortunately, private company pensions have all but disappeared for those under 55, changes to social security – in the form of either delayed or reduced benefits – seems almost a certainty, and the stock and housing bubbles have destroyed a decade or more of personal wealth. I fear that if these 2nd half boomers continue to hold out until they can retire to pursue their dreams, they may never get the chance.

Creating the Life You Want right now is a pretty big promise. How do we do that?

Creating the life you want boils down to three things: Defining exactly what it is you want in each of six key life arenas; giving yourself permission to pursue what you want in each arena, and; arranging your finances in such a way as to allow you to pursue those things without neglecting your personal and family responsibilities.

In doing research for this book, I spoke with several psychologists and life coaches about what it takes to be happy and fulfilled. I quickly realized that the things they were talking about were the exact same issues I had witnessed in my clients for years. The threats to our happiness can come from any of six different key life arenas. In order to be truly happy and satisfied we need to find balance and fulfillment in each of these arenas. The first step, beyond recognizing each arena, is to define what we want from each. I’ve included a whole chapter full of exercises to help you do that.

Second, we need to give ourselves permission to pursue what we want. We’ve all been taught that our lives are supposed to follow a certain path – education, career and then retirement. The reality however is that millions of us are miserable in our jobs but we stay there because of financial responsibilities and the feeling that this is what we’re “supposed” to do. The truth is we may be in those jobs a lot longer than we anticipate. It’s not only OK to make a change to do something you truly love, but it can improve your life in all six arenas.

Finally, any change we do decide to make is likely to have financial consequences. How do you arrange your finances to make it happen? We discuss that in pretty sharp detail.

So is this a financial book or a philosophy book?

It’s both. Rethinking Retirement really is about changing the way you think not only about career and retirement, but also about what it takes to really be happy at any stage of life. We need to realize that the pursuit and accumulation of ever greater wealth is not the key to happiness. We tend to think “If I just had a bit more money, I could do whatever I wanted.” Again, having been a financial advisor for 20 years and having watched people both with tremendous wealth and with little wealth, I can tell you that money alone does not create happiness. I’ve witnessed people with amazing wealth who were miserable, and others whom most of us would consider living in poverty who were extraordinarily happy. Yes, money is important and yes, it can make our lives easier, but by itself it is not a cure-all for what ails many of us.

That said of course, money is still important to surviving in our 21st century world. In fact, I would argue that the ability to manage one’s money is the key survival skill in our world today. If you want to create your ideal life, you need to know how to manage your money.

This sounds like great information. Are there other ways for people to get this info?

I’ve created a series of keynote presentations, seminars, workshops and even a website to complement the book.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

The best place is at www.Retirement2020.com. This is a great site that has even more information including an online self-assessment called a Life Planning Profile that helps users define the life they want in each of the six key life arenas. Of course the book is available at both the Retirement2020.com site as well as on Amazon.com.