An excellent book
If you’re considering retirement, or are approaching it or are in its early stages, I recommend this book to you.
I know the author, Eric Weigel, very well. We were colleagues in my days at Russell Investments. He was in the investment research department. He was not only very impressive intellectually, he was also modest and very pleasant.
I remember once that he was due to present some ideas to an investment conference, but at the last moment couldn’t be there. I was there, and the organizers asked if I would present his paper. Since I knew a little bit about the topic, I agreed. The presentation went well (it was composed, after all, by Eric), but the follow-up questions soon left me out of my depth. Fortunately there was an academic in the audience who came to my rescue.
This incident came back to me when I started to read Eric’s book, reminding me of his own depths. He relates that, around his 50th birthday, it dawned on him that he needed to take greater ownership over his life. In his typically thorough manner, he identified goals (like finances, staying in better shape, hobbies, new lines of work for more fulfillment), came up with a set of principles, and applied them to his own situation. More than a decade later, he has been a retirement coach for some years, and this book helps you to accept the challenge of designing the life you want to lead during your own retirement years.
The book’s sub-title is “9 keys to true wealth”. Given that my last two blog posts have been about many forms of wealth, I love the fact that Eric embraces the notion that wealth is so much more than money, and he takes my brief blog comments so much further. I’m also grinning widely as I write that he has constructed a neat acronym – joy to the consultant in me! – to capture the nine aspects that his retirement coaching practice focuses on. The acronym is NET WEALTH.
N = Nest (home)
E = Earnings (money situation)
T = Time
Those are the traditional drivers of planning. They’re followed by aspects that help you achieve happiness and fulfillment:
W = Work
E = Emotional energy
A = Achievements (meaningful goals)
L = Learning (growing intellectually, emotionally, spiritually)
T = Tribe (family and friends)
H = Health (stay fit)
He devotes a thorough chapter to each focal point, and explains what you need to think about in order to get further along that particular path. He illustrates the principles not only generally but with his personal example, so that you can see the level of thought, detail and commitment that has gone into each aspect. There are exercises for you to go through, to apply the principles to your own beliefs, hopes and circumstances. This is invaluable. I’ve found that in life the most useful way to show people how to relate general principles to themselves is to set out exercises of this nature. He also shows that many different paths are possible for each aspect: there’s never a unique “right answer.” So there’s never a test that you pass or fail: it’s always an exercise in self-knowledge and self-improvement.
Really, that’s it. In a sense, the rest is detail, though of course fundamentally important detail. All in a bit more than 250 pages.
I confess that I wish this book had been available when I retired (or, as I prefer to think of it, graduated into Life Two). It would have helped me to realize that I was making a big change, not the small one my limited mind imagined, and it would have turned the early part of my three years of discombobulation into a constructive and exciting time rather than flailing around and having to learn things for myself. I also wish that today’s Eric had been available then in person, because it would have been very pleasant and very easy to chat with him face to face, not just because we had been colleagues but because he expresses his ideas in such straightforward language that you feel you’re in conversation with him even as you’re reading his book, and I’m sure that conversation would have helped even more than the book would have done.
Well done, Eric!
Retirement principles in depth, but expressed simply and in a way that you can apply them to yourself.
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.