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Each of the 15 chapters in How to Plan a Great Second Life: Why not live fully every day of your extra 30 years? opens with a summary of the purpose and contents of that section. To give you a sample of the book, these are those summaries:
Chapter 1. What Are You Going to Do With Your Next 30 Years?
So you’re 40 or 50, big deal. The only question
that counts is “What are you going to do with your next 30 years?”
Nobody in the history of man has lived as long as you—and ended up in such good shape.
Your ancestors had kids, but rarely saw their kids have kids. Most women never knew menopause. Men died when their legs, eyes, or ears failed.
In 1900, the average life expectancy was 48. Now it’s 78, scarcely a hundred years later. For most, 30 extra years! What a wonderful problem!
So here you are, feeling fine, looking good, full of ginger, all gussied up and historically with no place to go.
You might as well make a plan that will use all your knowledge and experience, your values and laughter, in those “new” 30 years.
Your parents, certainly theirs, subscribed to the “declining philosophy” that said that from midlife on it was all downhill, that the party was over, dreams unrealized were just that. But today that’s as out of date as your prom dress, ball glove, or 8-tracks. People now don’t just curl up and die when they hit the 50-yard line. In fact, most bloom like never before. Better yet, they have the skill, strength, wisdom, and experience—sometimes even the money—to make their second half the joyous completion of what the first half prepared them to do.
Of course, whether that happens to you is pretty much your choice. Just sitting around waiting to die can take a long time, if curling up is your thing...
You at least deserve some options to use between then and now. Plenty of books tell you to save billions for your “retirement.” Others urge you to volunteer 26 hours a day. But none shows you how to take your future by the reins and make it go precisely where you wish.
This book has that goal: to help you plan the rest of your days.
You can use it to map out the great unknown—your Great Second Life!
Then you will have a hundred options, a hundred alternatives, and maybe a hundred new friends.
Chapter 2. What Base Did You Build During Those First 40+ Years?
We’re all nature’s slaves until we’re useless
to the breeding imperative, and most of what we did—particularly from about
12 through the 20s (and even 30s)—was basically out of our control.
Nonetheless, you got taught, learned skills, found values, developed a personality, and discovered areas of strength and passion that you want to be part of your life forever.
Whatever the cause, you came to love tennis, teaching, baking, or painting on wood. A future life without work, reading, golf, playing with the grandtykes, or doodling in web graphics would be unthinkable.
And you gathered up achievements in specific disciplines or directions while you grew up. Along the way you found things you wanted to explore in depth or experience first-hand when you no longer needed the job income, when time was your own.
So here you start recording those strengths, passions, and directions that you want to carry over into your second life, to become a part, even the core, of your later life Action Plan. And what you want to leave properly behind.
Chapter 3. Who Should Plan Your Great Second Life?
Let me ask the question in a different way.
“Who should create your second life?”
Not your spouse, your parent(s), your kid(s), the government, your job, or society.
If you’ve got a mate or dependents, make your own Action Plan, then integrate them into it using the conflict resolution process explained in Chapter 11.
But single, joined, or encumbered, it’s your time.
These are the only last years you will ever have. Why waste them? And why try to live somebody else’s life at the expense of your own? It’s not only impossible, it’s a huge waste of your happiness and your potential.
So, you do your own planning. NOW.
Chapter 4. What is Inappropriate to Repeat the Second Time Around—and What is Essential?
If nature hadn’t been in control those first
40 years, we’d all be as extinct as the puffed oozoo.
She had rules and a tight rein, but you outlasted her. You escaped—full of zest! You’re free!
You can toss out the foolishness of the teens, forget the steam of “romantic love,” quit leaping into bed just to prove you can, stop hunting for unconditional acceptance in all the wrong places, discontinue supporting your kids, and get rid of half your four-sizes-too-small wardrobe. Oh yes, the beauty contest has also ended—who cares?
Baggy boppers or sagging surfers don’t cut it. It’s time for something far more important than your species—you!
So what you need to know in this chapter is what is different in the post-40 years than before. What does freedom from nature really mean? What do we want to keep in our second lives? And what of the past is now simply an embarrassing waste of time and energy to repeat—and progressively less fitting as we truly mature?
Stop! Am I suggesting a Great Second Life without love, sex, or even rock-’n-roll? Why go on? Pass the vial. What could possibly replace them?
Real love, real sex, and maybe real music.
It’s time to complete two guide lists, “In” and “Out,” so we can pack appropriately for the liberating journey in the decades to come...
Chapter 5. How Do You Plan for a Three-Tiered Great Second Life?
Your second life is really divided into three
parts: the emotionally difficult 40-55 year period; the proactive, dynamic
second segment, and the reactive, reflective third.
Ideally, during the first 15 years you set the table for your second life. The second period is when most, perhaps all, of that second life takes place. The third consists of those few years (or months) when you lose independence, when comfort and survival replace growth and adventure. Some never experience the third segment at all.
This chapter focuses on defining that three-tiered reality. It also proposes that the relationships, interests, and activities pursued in the first 40 or so years make the three tiers that follow more enjoyable and eventful as well.
Chapter 6. What Will You Do About Your Physical and Mental Health?
If we are to believe the barrage of “good news”
dotting the press daily (about doubling our life expectancy, DNA, magic
pills, and turtles that don’t age), we may all live to be 200—if we can
just hang on a few more weeks. So what’s to worry?
We’d better address this myth before we tackle present-day, flesh and bone reality!
We had also better focus on our own and our contemporaries’ current and coming physical and mental health, on the long shot that corporeal immortality arrives after we’ve caught the last train. Without either in full temper, getting old will really be a climb to reach that leave-taking terminal.
Once we see what and where we are physically and mentally, let’s implement a four-step process to gain some sense of control, in case some dreaded, adverse anomalies come knocking, uninvited and unwanted.
That is logically followed by a broader look at what physically awaits most seniors, at least in North America. There are physical ailments and conditions that appear with age. Other ailments and conditions, more opportunistic, may dash through the door the moment we open it. So we might begin a concerted campaign to hold them at bay, or remove the precursory conditions that increase the likelihood of their unwelcome entrance. Alas, some are totally out of our hands: they are gifted to us genetically. For all, this look will at least provide a pinch of understanding, to lessen the shock of seeing their new face.
A similar, broad look at our coming mental state, with its emotional and psychological components, will deal more with myths and truths than suggest steps by which we might somehow jack up our IQ another 50 points or remember our pharmacist’s phone number (or location).
Then we must put all of this knowledge and information to work so we can fully use what we have to create our own very best second life. That will include synchronizing the use of our abilities while we have them to realize our dreams. Let’s wait until the next chapter to create some understanding of the money and protective tools, like insurance and assistance, that we will need to be safeguarded into old old age while not being a burden on family or friends. Stress is indeed a killer; all of this may help reduce that stress.
Chapter 7. Money and Your Second Life
If the retirement financial gurus are to be
believed, a chunk of our first dollar (or newborn rattle)—and every cent
since—should be immediately banked so it can compound for our assuredly
shaky and most likely disastrous economic future!
Their claims are mostly overblown and their predictions far too dire, but there are sensible reasons why the young should start thinking about and saving for their later years, so it isn’t a heavy pecuniary burden while they are young nor are there any needs or options unmeetable when they age. Reasons too why we should get our present spending and saving under better control.
This chapter looks realistically at money and a Great Second Life. Its purpose is to help us best use our available budget to achieve the most satisfying and rewarding future. It will send us to other books listed at the end of the chapter for their expert formulae, strategies, and techniques designed to help us create the kind of savings and growth investments needed to free us up from second life financial concerns.
Here we are far more interested in what we want to do with that money. How it will help us realize our second life dreams. Otherwise, we’re all madly gathering goods, instead of living now, without any idea of why we want them or what they are for.
We need to take a hard look at where our present assets are and what they amount to, plus what those might be worth in coming times. As well, we need to see how we create our income and how we spend it. And we need a flexible Money Worksheet that we can use later (and throughout our life) to see how and when we can finance our future dreams. So charts we will see—and use.
Four components of our overall financial plan deserve comment too: the basics, emergencies, how long we plan to work, and our will. Then 26 guidelines plucked from the best financial planning minds, distilled, and offered to help create a fully affordable Great Second Life.
Chapter 8. Dreams
It starts with a seemingly simple question,
“If you had all the money, time, and energy you needed and were free from
outside constraints, what would you do to put purpose and fun in your extra
That’s the first step to an exciting future that you create!
The idea is to put on paper anything that comes to mind, however bizarre, rational, flighty, heart-pounding, mundane, spine-tingling, impractical, thought-provoking, or ephemeral.
To help, this chapter provides the reason, the tools, and the form needed to create your own dream list while it also begins a parallel feature—an example that helps guide you through the steps suggested in the chapters that follow.
Do you have a mate or playmate with whom you want to spend those future years? No problem. We will address that too, and later, in a special chapter, explain how to both blend and bend your future lives to accommodate each of your needs.
Chapter 9. Commitment and Timing
There are some very important steps between
creating a list of dreams and making them come true.
The first of those steps is deciding which of those dreams you so want to come true that you will do whatever it takes to make them happen.
The second is deciding when—the order and the actual time—you want to realize them. Not every dream can come first nor do all work at any age. Few soccer stars began at 80.
Incidentally, some dreams you may want to start tomorrow, to get a kick start now so you’ll have the instructional or experiential background to excel later.
Chapter 10. Getting in Sync With Your Mate
It’s a double blessing having a partner, companion,
or mate with whom you share your future.
There’s the companionship, of course—maybe even love!
And there’s the planning, which can be the source of great fun and mutual accomplishment. It can also be a challenge!
Our task in this chapter is to remove the negative aspects of that challenge by clearly identifying which dreams are singular and belong overwhelmingly to the dreamers and which either overlap with the other person or are wholly shared with them.
We also share a simple conflict resolution process that works particularly well with couples, should that future planning lead to a tug of war. This helps stop that from ever happening.
Something else important happens when you start comparing and merging shared dreams—you get to really talk with your mate about things that matter. Life-creating and life-confirming things.
Chapter 11. Conflict and Inertia Resolution
There are two obvious kinds of conflicts. The
first is between protagonists, even mates. The second is between action
This chapter suggests a dandy tool that can resolve those conflicts quickly and satisfactorily.
One example of that first kind of conflict might involve $500,000 worth of dreams next year and a $5,000 dispensable budget surplus to pay for them. Or a spouse who refuses to visit Rome and that is #1 on your must-do list. It can be two top priority events on the same day in distant locales. Without a tool to help resolve such impasses now or when they occur, your second life plan can quickly grind to a halt.
The second kind of conflict is more beguiling. You simply never get started. Not that you don’t want to: you’ve made a sincere top-level commitment. You just haven’t sufficiently analyzed all of the necessary action steps required to fulfill that commitment. Thus you haven’t discovered the reasons why you can’t or won’t comply, so you don’t know how to offset them with solutions that will make that completion possible. Instead, you find yourself gripped by an inexplicable resistance or a paralyzing inertia. It makes your whole life plan seem like a cruel joke.
Two cures for the price of one! In this chapter you will learn a straightforward technique to both resolve conflicts and disarm resistance or inertia. Nor must you wait until your later years to use it—it can be as easily applied to relationships or any other conflicts right now. It works at any time and for all ages!
Chapter 12. Converting Your Dreams into Action Plans
Here is where the dreams gain form and grit.
Where they are pounded into realizable shape so humans can work them into
their everyday living. Here they get some flesh and bone—and legs.
At the dream level, “I want to leave a legacy, a lifelong imprint on young scientists (or wayward teens...)” works just fine. It’s properly imposing, lofty in direction, worthy of sacrifice, suitably vague. It inspires even the dream-maker as it’s said or read. It makes the spirit soar and promises wee threads of immortality.
Alas, dreams needn’t be that exalted. “Organizing the family Easter reunion” or “an uninterrupted hour a day of meditation or reading” are no less valuable or dreamworthy.
But none of them really mean much without some additional hard thinking, planning, and commitment. Most need some action retooling. Which is what this chapter is about. It explains a process and the means to convert the highest goals into doable action plans.
Dreams are hopes; they live in the mind and spirit. Actions are things done with the hands and the mind. We need both, but it’s the doing that brings us the kinds of results (and those wisps of immortality) that can make your second life truly great. The magic is in the doing.
Chapter 13. Can You Afford All Those Dreams?
That’s the question you’ve been asking all
Dreams, schemes. Unless you can figure out how to eat, stay warm, dress at least decently, and pay for cable, what’s this foolishness about also having a great life and super dreams?
Well, living our dreams is the reward we get for using our head, being a bit frugal all along, and for making plans about what we really want to have come true.
So here we add dollars and cents (sense) to the dreams to see what in fact we can afford, and when.
More important, if there are two of us rowing our lifeboat, how we can both realize our individual life dreams, plus those we want to share together?
This chapter won’t grow greenbacks but it can help us see, even decades before, what kind of discipline and direction we might need to live the kind of full life we want and deserve after the heavy lifting is over.
Chapter 14. Your Final Plan—What Do You Do Now?
Here you are, the only person on your block
who knows how to create your own Action Plan to spiff up your extra 30
years. But it’s still just so many words and a rolling avalanche of funny
sounding forms, each a reason for abandoning the whole thing and just quietly
getting old without interference or interruption!
Don’t quit! You simply need an annotated checklist to help you put the words into motion! Amuse and amaze your friends by your cleverness and energy!
What is the first decisive action you take to spank life into your newborn baby?
And how do you get used to referring to and carrying out an Action Plan after 40 or 50 years of living by (or on) the seat of your pants?
Old dog and new tricks. Alas, we all learn the tricks that we want to learn. That’s the clue.
Chapter 15. Keeping Your Life Plan Vital and Fresh for 30 Years
We’re almost done.
In today’s world, nothing is permanent—except change. So we can expect that even the spiffiest turbojet Great Second Life Action Plan will need periodic review, modification, and updating. If for no other reason than the person writing the first version at 40 or 50 will only faintly resemble the person living it out at 70 or 90.
What looks reasonable yet challenging in the first draft might look stodgy and stale to a tripper of the light fantastic several decades hence. Or exhausting to a person whose new later-life loves are Toltecan novels and lawn bowling.
Fifteen years ago who could have imagined we’d be learning how to arrange 0’s and 1’s on a home computer so we could surf the Internet or create our own interactive websites? Who knows what newfangled things will delight us fifteen years from now, much less 30?
So this chapter suggests reviewing our Action Plans, sprucing them up, trimming them back, or pointing them in some new direction. It suggests specific times when that might be done, even rewards for our not only being the brightest person on the block but for being brighter yet by keeping current our Action Plans, and us.