Saturday, December 08, 2007

Retirement Planning: Looking Beyond the Money. A Review

A Review of Your Retirement, Your Way, by Alan Bernstein and John Trauth (McGraw Hill, 2007)

It seems to me--and I admit the possibility that I may be wrong--that when I retired back around the turn of the century (1999, to be exact), retirement planning books were mostly about money. Yes, financial planning is very important, but it always seemed to me that by the time you reach retirement, you've done it or you haven't. I'd planned in my own conservative way, so I never read those books.

Today, thanks to the self-help book craze, the scope and number of retirement guides seem to have expanded. I'm not a fan of self-help books in general, and I've been retired quite a while, but I still decided to take a look at one of the retirement guides for the new age.

Your Retirement, Your Way, by Alan Bernstein and John Trauth, is subtitled, "Why it takes more than money to live your dream." In thirteen chapters, including "Preparing Psychologically for Change," "Creating Your NewLife Master Plan Summary," and "Determining How You Want to Be Remembered," Bernstein and Trauth cover many of the retirement concerns I've faced, and they provide common-sense guides for coming to terms with these issues.

The authors of this book invite you to create a "personal, customized NewLife Master Plan . . . through a structured process that will give you the power to take your future life into your own hands and create the best possible retirement lifestyle unique to your own interests, personality, relationships, and situation." A lofty goal, indeed!

I especially like Bernstein's "Who Were You? Who Are You? Who Can You Become?" chapter because the author suggests writing down things such as "What I was doing when I was at my best," "Situations in which I've been at my worst," and many more. I promote the same strategy in a less structured way in my own book, Seniorwriting: A Brief Guide for Seniors who Want to Write (Infinity, 2007). "Writing to Discover," as I call it, is a great idea! I'm glad to see it included here.

I was also happy to be introduced to the "Birkman personality profile" (copyright Birkman International, Inc.), a somewhat complex but very interesting strategy used by some psychotherapists "to better understand people negotiating complex transitions."

I tried the included "Birkman Interest and Style Summary" to discover my interest and lifestyle colors: Red (Implementer), Green (Communicator), Yellow (Administrator) or Blue (Planner). My result was blue all the way. That means I like to plan activities, deal with abstraction, think of new approaches, innovate, and work with ideas. It also means that I appear perceptive, agreeable, conscientious, reflective, and creative.

Blue means that my interests include abstracting, theorizing, designing, writing, and originating, and that my fields include writing a book, joining a spiritual commuinity, teaching, and volunteering. My style is insightful, relective, selectively sociable, creative, thoughful, emotional, imaginative, and sensitive, and my preferred environment is cutting edge, informallly paced, organized in private offices, low key, and future oriented. With the exception of "joining a spiritual community," these terms fit me perfectly. If I had not pretty much done so already in my own way, I could have gone on with goals, strategies, objectives, and specific activities and tasks to create my NewLife Chart.

There's much more in this book, including one chapter on financial planning, but the emphasis is on self-anaylsis, facing reality, and planning ahead. This book fulfills its stated purpose to "help you recognize and draw on resources that you may never have recognized . . . to create a truly fulfilling life, custom-designed for you and you alone."

I heartily recommend Your Retirement, Your Way to anyone nearing or even beginning to think about retirement. It's a big step; don't take it unprepared.

Buy on

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Postscript 12/10: I seldom hear from main-stream publishers or their authors, so I was very happy to receive the following comment on this review. Thank you, Mr. Bernstein!

"Dear Ms. Styne,Thank you for your sympathetic and appreciative review of Your Retirement, Your Way. Nothing feels as good to a writer as being read-- and understood-- and you obviously accomplished both in spades. Since we are both triple Blues (Birkman), I imagine we see the world through similar filters.I wonder if I could ask you to send your review to our Amazon site? We have had only 5 star reviews so far and another-- written as cogently as yours-- will help our stars shine. If there is anything I might do for you or your site please do not hesitate to ask.Warm regards,Alan Bernstein."

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