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When I was ten, a book like this would have seemed absurd. That was 1948 and mostly I remember two things—a loud neighborhood party when the war ended (that was World War II, and we were supposedly sound asleep several doors away) and my mother crying when Franklin Delano Roosevelt died.
During my earlier years, say 20 to 40, I was too busy just surviving and doing what everybody else did to give it much thought. My only sense of mortality was one night, at 38, realizing that I would no longer get that desperate call from the Cubs to put on the gear, get behind the plate, and bring them a pennant. Old age and death seemed a million years away.
The crack in my immortality came when I was 50, the year my 27-year
marriage hit the shoals while our girls were in Europe celebrating the
near-miraculous bestowal of their college degrees. Suddenly the future
seemed endless. I’d never thought about retirement, hobbies, or later-life
goals. The infinite was finite. If I could work forever, I could live forever.
I needed this book then, but it didn’t exist.
Blame the “Boomers”!
That it does exist you can blame on the “boomers”—if you’re into blaming. It took their reaching 50 to provide much public focus on a sensible, rewarding older age.
What put my pen in this pasture was a chance remark on the radio, something about our current life expectancy being about 80 and the 50-80 later-life vacuum being just as long as the maturing bubble for those 20-50.
Then just about everything I heard or read for the next two weeks seemed
to be about retirement and nobody being prepared—like me. Was that true?
I love research, I’m a writer, and the line was drawn.
This book has answers
What I found is on these pages.
I was sixty when I started this book. I’m 65 now and the first printing has sold out. In the past five years I also offered scores of speeches and workshops about second life planning and design. To my delight, I found that my book was on track and its contents were both helpful and need-meeting. So in this second edition I am mildly updating the first, somewhat simplifying the process, making the examples easier to relate to, and releasing it in a smaller paperback form. It even has a new website section accessible at no charge to those who wish to download and print out clean, unused charts and fill-in forms.
I also discovered that hardly a sexagenarian had heard much about or
seriously planned for his or her own “second life.” But they—we—weren’t
alone. Those noisy, puffing boomers, bless them, hadn’t either. As for
anyone younger than them thinking about their later years, I might as well
be writing about corset hooks or one-horse shays. (Their day will come...)
A last thought. I could have moaned for several hundred pages about
our collective lack of preparation, or just listed 700 or 7,000 ways to
get ready. But who wants to read that? What I really want to know (and
share with you) is summed up in two questions:
(1) How can you and I lead more joyous and productive years by creating our own “Great Second Life”?
(2) And, specifically, what can we do now to prepare ourselves to live each of the days we have left to its fullest?
The answers are found in Parts One and Two.
This book is a reference guide, a blueprint, and a map all in one. Please take its words and its process and from them create your own wildly exciting, unique, envious Great Second Life.
Enough babbling. Neither of us is getting any younger. Let me find my
specs and let’s get going...