Life After Full-time Work Blog

Learn about preparing for life after full-time work through posts from Don's upcoming book.

#128 Retirement Heaven Or Hell: Which Will You Choose?

A review of Mike Drak’s new book


Ernie Zelinski introduced me to Mike Drak. You’ll remember Ernie, the global best-selling author and my go-to guy for finding desirable ways to spend your time, and also our guest in the fifth podcast that Alex Mazer and I created. I’ve never actually met Mike, but have corresponded with him and reviewed his previous book, so when he sent me a draft of his latest book I was delighted to have a little back-and-forth about it. It would have been even better to meet in person, since it turns out we both live in Toronto, but with Covid that pleasure for me will have to wait until we’re given the all-clear. I feel I know him, thanks to our correspondence and the stories about himself that feature in his writing. Meanwhile Mike’s latest book (co-authored with Susan Williams and Rob Morrison, but written in the first person) has been published, and I love it.

Yes, he gave it the dramatic title that I’ve used for this blog post. And he really does describe that hell, and how we can descend into it and who are the people most likely to get there. Fortunately, though, the rest of the book helps us avoid it completely, in a way that’s wise and inspiring and very easy to read. I even prefer it to his Victory Lap Retirement, and that’s saying a lot.

In my career, when my client work left me time to think, I focused a lot on trying to make the world a better place. Since I graduated from working, my focus has changed and my passion is to help individuals and couples make the best of the world as we encounter it. To my delight, that’s exactly Mike’s focus in his book.

You’ll know that I feel there are three broad and potentially troubling questions that those approaching or in retirement should be able to answer. Who am I, if my job doesn’t define me? How will I fill my time? Will I outlive my money? These are indeed the questions that Mike helps you to find your personal answers to. He goes far beyond financial issues: he shows you how to spend your time happily and how to find further meaning and purpose in life.

With Mike’s permission, I’m reproducing here the nine principles that he explains for designing your ideal post-career lifestyle:

Principle #1: Nurture strong relationships.

Principle #2: Foster good health.

Principle #3: Achieve financial independence.

Principle #4: Reignite your sense of adventure.

Principle #5: Tap into your spirituality.

Principle #6: Find your tribes (by which he means people who think like you and share your passions).

Principle #7: Make the most of your time.

Principle #8: Adopt the right attitude.

Principle #9: Discover your purpose.

All common sense, right? Of course – once you see it written down! The best ideas always have that ring of common sense, except that they never occurred to you in quite that way until you saw them written down.

Mike explains how to fulfill each of those principles, with wisdom, explanations that include stories, and (for me, most useful of all) two added features. Every chapter has a summary of “Simple truths” so that you can easily go back and remind yourself of the takeaways. And every chapter has several “Questions for self-reflection” – my favorite aspect, because we’re all different, and answering those questions is the best way to apply those principles to your own circumstances and goals, to take yourself to your own Retirement Heaven.

Mike then spends even more time on searching for your purpose, your values and finding meaningful work. And he ends by showing you how to tie it all together.

That’s the outline. I hope it appeals to you as much as it does to me. If it does, you’ll find it’s a book that you won’t just read and place in your bookshelf. It’s a book you’ll go back to, over and over again. I know. I’ve already read the whole book more than once.


A friend told me I should add a disclosure about potential conflicts of interest. It hadn’t occurred to me. OK, then: I do not have, and have never had, any financial interest in what Mike writes. This review comes from the heart.



I have written about retirement planning before and some of that material also relates to topics or issues that are being discussed here. Where relevant I draw on material from three sources: The Retirement Plan Solution (co-authored with Bob Collie and Matt Smith, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009), my foreword to Someday Rich (by Timothy Noonan and Matt Smith, also published by Wiley, 2012), and my occasional column The Art of Investment in the FT Money supplement of The Financial Times, published in the UK. I am grateful to the other authors and to The Financial Times for permission to use the material here.

2 Responses to “#128 Retirement Heaven Or Hell: Which Will You Choose?”

  1. Stefan Lundbergh says:

    Thanks for the tip Don.

    Mike Drak’s book is on my reading list

    The nine principles seems very reasonable and my initial reaction was: Why wait until post-career for pursuing them?


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