Let me start this by telling you how much I loathe self-help books. They are usually written by people – whatever credentials they do or don’t claim – who are certain their answer to any of life’s problems is the only answer. Some of them even try to solve problems no one knew they had before, and if you’ll just buy enough of their books, attend their weekend-long seminars at $1000 a pop and repeat the mantra 25 times a day, you too will find eternal happiness. Phooey.
But every once in long, long while, I’m wrong.
Mapping Your Retirement, subtitled “A Personal Guide to Maintaining Your Health, Managing Your Money and Living Well,” edited by Mark Skeie, Janet Skeie and Julie Roles rises way above the norm in this genre. There are no pat or patented answers in this book, but there are a lot of questions to help you think about how you want to live the years of late life and pointers on how to accomplish it.
Drawing on the conclusions of more than a dozen researchers and experts in the fields of life, health and money, the book is packed with nuggets of useful and thoughtful information. How could I, the woman who has been haranguing readers for four years now to ignore the cultural imperative to pretend to be young forever, resist this on page 29:
“It is time to attribute new, positive meaning to getting older and ignore the societal adoration of youth. All stages of life have merit and problems. The stress of supporting yourself and your family during middle age is just as much of a problem as is adjusting to various losses in later life. This time of life is loaded with opportunities for meaning and satisfaction.”
Divided into those three general areas of importance – life, health, money - Mapping Your Retirement is - well, a map of how to approach old age your way. Some are lists such as “Character Traits for Aging Well.” Others are questions to ponder about how you may want to spend the next 20 or 30 years of life after retirement. And many are practical guides on what to consider on everything from figuring out if what matters in life now is different from before; to making a variety of healthcare decisions; to financial risk management; to reminders how to eat well – and a hundred more topics.
This is primarily a workbook. Most chapters supply pages with plenty of space to answer questions that will help you make the best decision for you and your circumstances. Lists of facts on each topic can be used as guides. Q&As of common questions on each topic further enhance it. And at the end of each chapter are URLs of additional resources you can find on the internet.
And don’t think from the title that this book is only for people still planning their retirement. Even if you left the traditional workforce five or ten or more years ago, there is plenty of "news you can use" here.
Not everyone will want or need everything in Mapping Your Retirement, but there is little that isn’t valuable. You can flip open this book to almost any random page and find something of interest that is well-organized, thorough and extraordinarily well thought out.
The comprehensive range of practical, straight-forward, easy-to-use information packed into this book should make it one of the most well-thumbed references in your library.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Kay Richard recalls the terrible trouble a tangle of teenage lies can cause in Party at the Sandbanks.]