249: Revolutionizing Retirement and Maximizing Your Bonus Years with Dorian Mintzer
Today’s guest is Dorian Mintzer. Dorian is a world-class retirement coach, a doctor of philosophy, and the founder of Revolutionize Retirement.
Dorian believes that our bonus years are a time to learn, grow, and evolve–and that we need to live our lives with intention, not regrets. She helps her clients discover their gifts, live their purpose, and make a difference in their world. As new parents in their fifties and sixties, she and her husband are also living proof that there’s no “one size fits all” transition, and that retirement is a journey and not a destination.
She’s also the co-author of The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together, where she explores how couples can continue to earn money, stay engaged in life, and remain happy together.
In today’s conversation, we dive into what exactly it means to revolutionize retirement, how to navigate major life transitions (and why people come to her for help), and the difference between “getting old” and “becoming complete.”
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In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- Why the coming generations are all but guaranteed to turn retirement as we once knew it on its head.
- Why there’s no “right” way to retire–and why so many retirees come to see Dorian around a year or two after they retire.
- The reasons men often struggle far more than women to feel connected or have community after they leave a full-time profession–and how to reduce uncertainty in this time of transition.
- The most important conversations to have around aging–and Dorian’s framework for having them effectively.
- "There’s a necessity to change the paradigm of aging. It’s not all downhill after 60." - Dorian Mintzer
- "It’s important to have engagement, purpose, meaning, relationships, community, and intergenerational connections as part of a vital, healthy next stage of life." - Dorian Mintzer
- Revolutionize Retirement
- The Couple's Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together by Roberta Taylor and Dorian Mintzer
- What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life's Third Age by Ken Dychtwald and Robert Morison
- Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age by Bruce Feiler
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Casey Weade: Dorian, welcome to the podcast.
Dorian Mintzer: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here. So, thanks for inviting me.
Casey Weade: Dorian, I'm excited to have another friend of so many other friends that we've had here on the podcast, another world-class retirement coach. I know you're good friends with Robert Laura and many of our other guests. And you also have a doctorate in philosophy. So, perfect. We get to have some real philosophical conversations today. I look forward to bringing that into our discussion, but I want to kick it off with your website, one, RevolutionizeRetirement.com. And in your bio, one of your promises in your bio is to revolutionize the concept of retirement. The word revolution really stuck with me. And as I thought through the word revolution, I said to myself, revolutions are usually driven by necessity or a perceived necessity, at least. What makes this revolution a necessity in your mind?
Dorian Mintzer: I think that's a good question and I think a number of things, I think the reality is that the concept of retirement was conceived actually in Germany, but way back in the 1930s when people lived shorter lives, a lot of people had more industrial jobs and they were on it, they were really burned out by the retirement age of 62 or 65. Life has changed now in the 21st century. People are living longer in the midst of what's called the longevity revolution.
So, by the time you're at the 62 or 65 age, the likelihood is now with medical advances that people are going to live another 20, 30, maybe even 40 years. So, we need to totally turn retirement on its head and revolutionize it. Many people don't even think we should use the term anymore. And there's a lot of-- the jury's still out about that, but some people like to think about it as revolutionize it, rewiring, refinement, retunement, and all the R words because it used to be that people would retire, and then it was the idea that within six to ten years, they died. Now, that's a little bit longer.
So, I think there is a necessity. There's a necessity to change the paradigm of aging. It's not all downhill after 60. People used to think it was. Now, there's this vast plateau, these bonus years that we have with a lot of hills and valleys, but there are these wonderful opportunities and challenges because no matter how well we take care of ourselves, we all do age, but there are opportunities for new beginnings, and even with chronic illnesses or terminal illnesses. I mean, attitudes really impact how we live our life. And there's no reason not to be active and vital and have a sense of focus throughout our entire life.
Casey Weade: Dorian, revolutions take time. They don't happen overnight.
Dorian Mintzer: They do, they do.
Casey Weade: We won't see this revolution, maybe until the end of the current retirees' lifetimes, maybe it's 20, 30 years from now. If you look ahead 20, 30 years from now, what do you hope becomes a thing of the past when it comes to retirement? Is there one thing specifically you would like to see become ridiculous, 20, 25 years from now?
Dorian Mintzer: Already, most industries don't have a formal retirement age, so there's an option. I think, in 20 years, I'd like to really see that the term retirement isn't there and that people will have rethought and will to work. And we'll think about the different ways that one can work, different stages and ages in life, and that people can work full-time, people can work part-time. People can be consultants. They see many more entrepreneurs. I think the world of work is going to keep changing, I think, with the pandemic. We've seen more remote work.
I think, in 20 years, the world of work is going to be very different. We're going to have more AI. To my hope is that there'll be more notions about intergenerational workplaces, and it may be a combination of remote and in person, and my hope is that ageism will have been turned on its head, that the revolution of ageism and internalized ageism because a lot of times, people really internalize those myths about being old and over the hill.
So, my hope in 20 years is that we now have become good role models, and younger people aren't as afraid of aging. And the world of work really allows people of different ages to work with and learn from and with each other. So, I guess that's sort of my vision of how it will be, and that the younger generation will really have turned retirement on its head. And maybe people, because we're living longer, will discover that they can take time off in between when they're more able to do a lot of things and then come back to work when they're older, and that older people are really valued of the wisdom and perspective that they have and the resilience and flexibility. So, I'd love to see all that happen in the next 20 years.
Casey Weade: And that's why you feel we really get wrong about retirement is this concept that we get to 60, 65 and we just can't work anymore. We're not adding any more value. And that's what it sounds to me like you'd like to see become a thing of the past. And we see those individuals that are of current retirement age as even more valuable and leveraging those talents in different ways.
Dorian Mintzer: And I want to see employers recognizing that. So, employers are valuing older workers and are really able to recognize that there's historical wisdom and that older workers have a lot to share and give, and also to work. So, it's both the workers themselves as well as employers that need to be educated about what's possible.
Casey Weade: And I feel like you've titled these retirement years as your bonus years. Your TED Talk was titled Embracing Your Bonus Years, but I'd like to hear from you. How do you define bonus years? And why the term bonus years?
Dorian Mintzer: Well, people use different terms for it. Some people just say the third age. Some people say the second half of life. I like the idea of bonus years, which will probably change in time because it will be just sort of what is. Now, it's new. It's the paradigm shift that people are living longer. And that, as I said before if you reach the age of 62 or 65, the more kind of traditional retirement age, the likelihood is the expectation now is that you're going to live probably into your 80s and 90s.
In my parents' generation, that was the exception. Now, it's the expectation. And there's a statistic that I always like to share. I'd like to share it with the listeners that there's some research that says by the time we're 65, it's 30% genetics, and that's real. There are some genetic issues. You have 30% genetics, 70% are things we can have some control, like nutrition, like exercise in our body and brain, like spirituality, like meaningful relationships, being part of the community, connection, engagement, purpose, and meaning. These are all things we can have control of.
So, my hope for people is, and that's part of why I like to think about these bonus years. It's really an exciting time. And we didn't have that in my parents' generation. We have that now. And it really just maybe even as our kids or our kids' kids also grow up that it won't be the bonus years anymore, it will be just given, but right now, I still think about it as the bonus years. And so, I focus in my TEDx Talk on embracing those years as the time to go learn and explore. Again, with that notion. It's not all downhill because that's what people used to think. People used to sort of think of this like this expired kind of data or forehead, and we were just waiting to die. It's not that way. I mean, it could be that way if you have a negative attitude, but it doesn't happen to be that way. There's actually a study out of Yale, Dr. Levy, he's a psychologist there, that a positive attitude about aging can actually give you seven and a half more years of life. So, it's really important to think about it. So, they are excited in their bonus years so trying to learn, grow, and go.
Casey Weade: Is that an evolution? Maybe you don't have the answer, maybe you don't know the statistic, but I am curious, how does that control evolve throughout our lifetime from the time that we're born until the time we're, say, 65, as this study has shown that we have 30% genes and we have 70% control over our future and our life and just our overall well-being? Do we have more control when we get to be 65? Do we have less control? Is there an evolution that's going there?
Dorian Mintzer: That's an interesting question. I don't really know the answer to that, but my attitude is just on my kind of intuitive sense is if, from the get-go, we empower our children through education and good nutrition and learning and to control the parts they can't throughout life, then people have more and more control. I think that I don't really know for sure why the age 65 was picked for this study, but it probably was based on the more traditional retirement ages. And it was like my sense is probably it was focusing on these bonus years that we have to really help people recognize that it's not all given in terms of our genetics, but there's a lot we can do, but I am a believer that the earlier we start controlling the parts that we can control, the better. And certainly, we can't control everything in life. We never could and we never will. So, the sooner you start trying to control the parts, again, I think the better off we'll be.
Casey Weade: I think that can be really encouraging for some that get to this point in life. And I think this is why that study was conducted. This is why you like to focus on this, is this feeling for some that, well, now, we don't have control anymore. I'm too old to start a new career. I can't get myself back in shape, my family, and ruins. How am I going to pick up the pieces and pull the family back together? But you still have so much control, 70% is still in your control when you get to that point. And it might not arguably even be more than that at that point in certain aspects of life. You had shared during that talk an interesting view on life transitions as far as-- could you just share your view on life transitions and how that specifically relates to retirement?
Dorian Mintzer: Sure. If you think about it, all life is transitions, that we transition when we're born. We transition when we go to school. We transition when we get a job, when we get married, when we get divorced, if the spouse dies. And retirement is also a transition. And I find it a really helpful concept to think about because all transitions have an ending or period of unknown and a new beginning. And what I find really helpful is I like to ask people to think about the transitions in their past. Do you tend to have more trouble with the ending of things, with the unknown, with the new beginning, with none of that, with all of that, because they can help you think about how you're going to approach retirement?
And retirement no longer is a destination. Now that we're living longer, it's just the beginning of a journey. So, I like to think about many, many people are now thinking about retirement as a transition. So, I think if one thinks about it that way, you can inform yourself with how you dealt with transitions in the past. And that may help, you know, is it going to be harder for you when your full-time job ends? Is it harder for you when you haven't quite decided what are you retiring to? And what's next in your life? Or is it harder for you to just start something new? And it may not be hard for any of it. It may be hard for all of it, but I think it's helpful, but I also do think it's helpful to think about these retirement years as a transition.
Many people want to retire from their full-time work, but they want to still work and they want to use their skills maybe in a different way, maybe in the same industry that they're in, maybe as a consultant, maybe as a mentor, maybe just part-time. So, there are some people who want to face retirement. Some people want to stop their full-time work, maybe they really are burnt-out and tired. They know there's just more fire in their belly and they want to do something different. And maybe they want to do something in the not-for-profit wall. Or maybe if they've been in the not-for-profit world, they want to become an entrepreneur and start their own business. Or maybe they want to do volunteer work, where they're being able to contribute to something that's just really important, and maybe they want to spend time with children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or any age group or just maybe an intergenerational connection. There's really no right way. And I think more and more people are focusing on the excitement of this transition year and to think about retirement not as a destination, but a transition and to think not so much about what you're retiring from, but what you're retiring to. How do you want to live the rest of your life?
Casey Weade: And in your experience, well, in your research, in addition to your experience working with so many that are undergoing this transition, is there a typical timeline that you have uncovered in this work to find that this is the beginning? Well, this is the end. So, it's the end, which means it's the end of this old life, this may be work life that I had prior. Then there's this unknown period and then there's a new beginning. Is there a timeline that you have kind of uncovered for the average retiree on how long each one of those periods lasts? And maybe what the most difficult part is?
Dorian Mintzer: It really does vary from person to person, and I really mean when I say that there's no right way. If somebody is really burned out, there may be what's sometimes thought of as the kind of a honeymoon phase where people just really don't want to do much of anything, maybe they want to travel. Now, the pandemic has made that more complicated, but I think that it's beginning potentially to open up again, but people may want to sleep in or play golf or go sailing or spend time with children and grandchildren.
What I found in my clinical work, my coaching work, and therapy work is that generally, after about a year or two, could be sooner, could be longer if people haven't yet been able to figure out what's giving them connection, engagement, and purpose and meaning, then often I find that I'll meet them. They'll come in for some needed therapy, help with coaching, trying to figure out what's missing. And it's one of the things that I find really important for people. I think it's important while you're still working or when you stop working, to think about what did work provide for you? What was it that were the really beneficial parts of work?
And in general, what I find, and what people say is it gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning. If you're in a relationship, it gives you time together and time apart, except for the pandemic when everybody is working remotely at home. It gives you self-esteem. It generally gives you a sense of community and camaraderie, and it gives you connection, engagement, purpose, and meaning. And so, what I suggest to people is think about if you're not working in the same way, if you're not working full time, how will you build that into your life? How will you build the basis of well-being into your life? And that's the connection, engagement, purpose, and meaning. And if you haven't built that in, then it can be a slippery slope, and people can get depressed, they can get too isolated. We'll have a loneliness pandemic. We've seen as people get older, there can be too much drinking and even turning to drugs. That's the dark side of retirement. And so, by thinking ahead and figuring out how to build this in, I think it's helpful for you.
There's actually a book that came out in July that I recommend to your listeners. It's by Ken Dychtwald and Robert Morison. I don't know if they've been your guest or not, but it's called What Retirees Want. And then, I can't remember the exact title at the moment, but it's sort of thinking about life's third age. And what Ken does that I like is he really looks at sort of the stages pre-retirement and then the stages within retirement and actually through his research, he's got segments of people, some who want to use their skills and want to be contributors, some who kind of want to work in a different way, some who just want to play, they work so hard and they want to play, and some who have to keep working because they haven't been able to take care of their finances and they're not in a good position and whether they really want to or not, they need to be working.
And then they may face some of the ageism of being able to either keep working in the industry or find another job or start their own business. You probably know more about that, but your background with the financial planning, but there are so many different types of retirees. And I think it's helpful to sort of recognize what your own unique situation is, but I think to me, a commonality is it's very important to build in connection, engagement, purpose, and meaning, meaningful relationships, community, and some intergenerational connections. I think that's all an important part of a vital, healthy next stage of life.
Casey Weade: It seems to me in my experience that humans dislike uncertainty. They don't like the unknown. And in my experience, that unknown period tends to be the most stressful for most, as I see it because it's unknown, it's just not who we are as humans, but for many, they're transitioning out into retirement, they just want out. They just want to retire. They just want to get to that Gloryland called retirement. And so, the end can be very easy, and that transition can become so much smoother if we create some certainty to reduce the timeline or the width of that unknown period. Are there some specific tactics or maybe tools you'll use with those that you work with to increase that certainty and reduce the time that that unknown period continues to go on?
And I guess maybe I'm going to tag one more in there. Do we have to have the unknown period? I feel like in some aspects of life, in many transitions, we have to have some unknown in order to discover what we really want when we get to that new beginning. I think about children that go to college, oh, I don't know what I want to do. Well, you have to just start, you have to get going, you have to figure it out along the way, you have to have this unknown period. Do we have to have the unknown period? And in your experience, do you find that there are ways that we can decrease the width of that unknown period?
Dorian Mintzer: Again, that varies from person to person, and what I said before is, it really is helpful, and people begin to think about what am I retiring to? And for some people really actively thinking about that, giving yourself permission to know that you want to end something because you want to open up room and space for something else and you don't want along a no and in between. So, some people actually start thinking ahead of time and to think about what are my skills? What are my strengths? What skills do I want to hold on to? What ones might I just be happy to let go of?
And so, what do I want to do next so that there is a plan and that can reduce some of that unknown period? Other people, just like in transition to college, just say, I know I'm really tired. I don't know what's next. I just need some time, my time, the time to do nothing, and they don't want to actively think about it right then. And so, then, the uncertainty might be a little bit longer, but they may build in ways to help with the uncertainty, like the travel or like taking classes. I mean, I'm a firm advocate of lifelong learning, and there are so many great opportunities now there. So many, I think, both online, but around the country, there are programs. Some are called Osher Lifelong Learning Programs because the money was given by Mr. Osher to fund their lifelong learning programs, but many, I wouldn't say most, but many universities have lifelong learning programs or adult education programs and many, many high schools.
So, that can also be something that people can use in that sort of interim period so that might reduce what they're going to. Bruce Feiler, who's written a lovely book, Life is in the Transition, talks about that period of uncertainty as kind of the messy middle. And some people like the messy middle and other people kind of want to navigate out of it more quickly. And I think one of the ways you asking about some tools, now, I think it's helpful for people to think about kind of a period of giving themselves permission to decide what's important to them. What might be things I left on the back burner when I was younger that I was interested in, but life got in the way, and I never had time? Who are people that maybe I admired and I admire what they've done? What are things that maybe were hobbies that I'd like to have more time for? Are there languages I want to learn? Do I want to teach? All these lifelong learning programs can provide opportunities. So, there are ways that people can think about how to use that time of uncertainty as they begin to think about what's next, and during...
Casey Weade: Yeah, between that period of uncertainty or no one happened before the end, right? If we got to that before the end, that's why I think my mother-in-law has been so inspiring in that way that I've seen her husband passed away. She's approaching retirement and she's going to woodworking classes, trying new volunteer opportunities, spending more time with her grandkids, a little more time off work, and traveling a little bit. She's getting to experiment in those areas to reduce the uncertainty after the end.
Dorian Mintzer: And that's a beautiful, beautiful example. And I encourage people to do that. And I encourage your listeners, if you have hobbies, keep doing them. If you don't have a hobby, start thinking about what you'd like to do because that will help in that period of time of reducing the uncertainties. The other thing-- go ahead. I was going to say the other thing that's often helpful is people feeling really stuck. I say think about what are the things that you're really proud of that you accomplished in your life. What was it? What made you proud of it? What did you do? Who was with you? It can be three things you're proud of, repeat the experience you've had.
Again, you can kind of get the ideas going when let yourself brainstorm with each other to think about what are some fun things to do, learn during this period, while I'm thinking about what's next. I think your-- was it your mother-in-law or mother?
Casey Weade: Yeah, mother-in-law.
Dorian Mintzer: That was a beautiful example. That's a great example. Some people feel stuck, though. And men and women, I would say it had been men more, but now that women have been also so much in the workforce, some people have gotten to a point in life where work is their primary identity, and they forget about the other parts of their identity, like being maybe a husband or the wife or parent or sister, aunt or just a person. And so, it's helpful to think about who am I separate from my CV. Some people let themselves do that ahead of time. Others might put off retiring because they're just frightened.
I've seen this among, I think, more men than women because I think sometimes women have more hobbies or more kind of outside-the-book relationships. I mean, like we say women can start up conversations in the restroom lines, which are many of the lines. Men often, and it's a stereotype, but all too often, men's connections and activities are to work. And so, it is really important for those men and women that a good portion of men to think about developing friendships. Men's groups are beginning to develop more too or to be doing a faith-based program that you're in, but to think about who will still be my friends? Or can I develop some new interest or new activities or take up something I've never done before but would like to do? Thinking ahead really helps, and just as you're saying, it helps reduce the uncertainty, it helps you just feel more empowered during this time of transition.
Casey Weade: In that TED talk, you talk about the difference between old and complete, becoming old and becoming complete. Can you elaborate on that?
Dorian Mintzer: Yeah, I like the phrase of becoming whole, not just all. And if you think about it, that throughout life that there are so many parts of us kind of that emerge at different stages of life. And I think as we get older with life, with you, with reflection, there is that opportunity, though, in Sageing International and call it Harvesting the Wisdom or really thinking about the who am I and to integrate all these different parts of oneself, to become more whole. I mean, we all have strengths and limitations. We have good things, bad things. We've all made mistakes. Hopefully, we've learned from them, but the more we can sort of acknowledge that and really appreciate the wisdom and respect that we have, the resilience we've developed, I think it does make us more integrated and more whole. And I think the more whole you feel, and it doesn't mean you're not going to feel old or that you're getting older, but it helps you realize you're still so much part of this world, and it's sort of the vital aging, and that you still have a lot to contribute as well as to learn. And I think both parts are important.
Casey Weade: That's that realistic optimism that you speak about. I am getting older, but I'm getting better. I'm becoming more complete.
Dorian Mintzer: Exactly. And maybe, as a 70-year-old, I can't exercise the way I did when I was 40 or 50, but I can still exercise. Or maybe I need to walk a little bit more slowly. Sometimes, we have to change our dreams. If you've got bad knees at whatever age, maybe you don't climb up high mountains and buy more flat services, or sometimes the dreams need to change, but we all still need dreams.
Casey Weade: Well, when I heard this, getting old and becoming complete, the difference between the two and really changing the way we think about it becoming whole at this stage in life, ageism works both ways. And I'm at the other end of that spectrum. As a 35-year-old, I'm going, well, what can I do? Can I not be complete? What can I do to become whole or become complete? Do I have to wait until I'm older in order to become complete? What would be your guidance? Or what are your thoughts for today's youth and millennials, etc., that maybe aren't at that stage in life or their 60s, 70s? How can they accelerate their completeness or wholeness? Is it possible? And what can they do?
Dorian Mintzer: It's definitely possible, and I think it's tied into the question you asked before about, do we have to wait till we're 65 to control those parts of our lives? Or can we begin to control them at earlier ages? I think in the same way, I think, what I'm finding or hope for among millennials and younger is that people see kind of life stages as just sort of normal part of life and are less afraid of getting old. And if you are less afraid of getting old and you think about at each stage of life, you can become whole. Now, you're going to have more and more life experiences as you go along, but that doesn't mean that you can't process the wisdom and the perspective that you develop along the way, and then you're a little bit further ahead of the game when you kind of reach this next stage.
I think because the longevity revolution happened sort of more recently. And yet I'm one of what's called the leading-edge boomers. I turn 60 when everyone is going, oh, my gosh, look at all these boomers, 10,000 a day, they're turning 60 and then 65 and 70, and now, all of the leading-edge boomers are all 75 now. So, there was a lot of hype about trying to think about aging a different way now for those of us that were aging, but I think we are hopefully, to be role models for your generation and younger generations to say don't be afraid of getting older. These different ages provide different opportunities. And just think about what you're learning, think about controlling the parts, and think about being whole, but being open to learning new things from older people and from younger people.
I think that that one is tied into your question, too, of what would the world be like in 20 years? It would be wonderful if there were less of these age segments and just look at life stages and health stages. A lot of people are talking now about, just look at health stages and life stages, and that people just accepting this kind of more natural all in life and that we all have something to offer. But a dear friend of mine, Jan, I believe who's now 89. She says meaningful work, paid or unpaid one's last breath. And I believe that as a mantra. And one can start with that at really early ages and kids can start early volunteering. And studies have shown that people who have volunteered along the way, there's more of a likelihood that they'll do that as they get older. And there are so many ways to connect with each other, help the community and help the world. Our planet certainly needs that.
Casey Weade: Yeah, well, that's what I really see as our opportunity in this world is as a firm, that ability to elevate the impact that the individuals we work with are able to make in this world. And I want to make sure we get to questions and conversations. Our TRIBE loves a good question.
Dorian Mintzer: Sure.
Casey Weade: And as a therapist and as a coach, that's one of your talents. In your bio, one of your promises was to help people not shy away from important conversations. What are some of the most important conversations that you feel we need to be having around aging?
Dorian Mintzer: Around aging, to start with, but I think about not being afraid of aging, but I think the one really important conversation is end-of-life issues and wishes. We never know when the end of our life is going to be. Hopefully, it's after a good, long, whole vital life, but you certainly know with events that happened, just the events last week with that building collapsed, 9/11 or accident or whatever, life happens. When they say life happens when you're busy making plans.
So, end-of-life conversations are hard. And we say money, sex, and death are sort of still taboos. They may have eased up a little, but they're hard for people to talk about. I think all of those are important conversations, but I think end-of-life issues if I sound like I'm probably in a soapbox, but I do think these are important issues to talk to your adult children or nieces and nephews or siblings or friends. That's important to you. How do you define quality of life? What relevant measures, if any, do you want? And in what circumstances might you want them?
Some people really like to think about designing what therapy will be like and thinking about and planning ahead. What I think is important to realize that when somebody dies, it's a crisis time. Even if somebody had a wonderful long life, it's still a crisis. And if at the time of crisis, you don't know where the accounts are, who the key people are, what the passwords are, since we’re in digital worlds now, you're compounding the crisis. So, in addition to the conversations that are most important to you, it's also important to keep your real life and digital life up to date. So, if something happens, and you become incapacitated, somebody knows how to take care of things and you're not really even more pressure on people at the time of crisis. I think that's an important thing.
I think talking about money is so important, and I'm sure you do a lot of this. And I think having your podcast is wonderful. Money is not just a number, money is a tool, really, when you think about it. It's to help you have the kind of lifestyle options that you want. And I think no matter how much or how little money you have, it's important to have financial planners that you talk with. So, you know how you want your money to be spent and what amount you need in order to have lifestyle choices. And I think that's throughout life. I really encourage people early on to have these conversations and to continue to have them. So, those are some of them, I think, the relationships is another set of conversations to have. And I'm happy to mention that, too.
Casey Weade: Sure. I want to get to those conversations, specifically, but first, you mentioned money as a tool. And I heard you say that during your TED Talk, money as a tool, and I thought, well, that's great, however, but do we view it that way? As many retirees, they've been seeing it as a number on a balance sheet as part of net worth or a scorecard that it's just been this accumulation number they've been working on for 30, 50 years.
And now, they have to change their way of thinking from it's just a number on a balance sheet to this is a tool, I can spend it, I can enjoy it. Do you see that with the families that you work with, individuals you work with? They have difficulty viewing it as a tool for those that do have a difficulty with that transition, how do we start thinking of it more as a tool, something that we can really enjoy and spend? Most people didn't save all that money just so they could leave it behind. Most of them saved as a tool that they could enjoy, but it's so hard to get over that hump. And I completely understand.
Dorian Mintzer: You're absolutely right. I think it's really important conversations to have with friends, with your partner, with your adult children, with your financial advisors, with coaches, therapists if we have them. We all have been primed to the idea of a number. And I think it does people a disservice to not think in more of the holistic way in terms of how do you want your money to work for you and what lifestyle options do you really want? I mean, I find these are important conversations that I try to help people have. And it's hard sometimes because you watch these ads on TV, you know about the number, then I think they're trying to change some of that, but it's hard.
Casey Weade: It's almost like it's been the system has been then designed. The financial world has been designed to keep you from spending your money because that's how they make their money. They want you to keep it there and keep it going. They don't want you to spend it.
Dorian Mintzer: It's true, and I think what I find to be hard sometimes with some of my clients that are older is to recognize that it's important to allow themselves to spend it on themselves. For so many, the idea is, well, I've saved it because I want it for my children, and they sometimes then don't let themselves do some things that would really give them some joy. And I know it can sound harsh, but I'd sometimes say to people, maybe there won't be an inheritance for your children. It's important that you take care of your health care needs. It's important that you take care of being able to make the most of life you have. And if there's some left, fine. And I do think these are important conversations to have with adult children so they're not living their life expecting, well, I'm going to get this inheritance from my parents. And many will, and it doesn't have to be an all or none, but those are important things to talk about.
And I do think that it's hard sometimes for older people to talk about, but also to talk about it with the younger generation so that for sometimes, that can lead to people becoming underachievers because they think, well, I don't have to work so hard because I know I'm going to inherit from my parents. So it can be complicated. That's why you have such an important role in people's lives.
Casey Weade: There are so many individuals promoting this today. One of our last podcast guest, Mitch Anthony, you know, it's hard making the shift from return on investment to return on life. On the way to retirement, yes, it's ROI. You get to retirement, it's about ROL. And that can be a challenging shift.
Dorian Mintzer: It can be a challenging shift.
Casey Weade: So, you brought up money, sex, and death. These are the things that are some of the leading causes of divorce, right? And that's probably why many of the conversations you had in your book are around money, sex, and death. The book was a collaboration, a coauthored book titled The Couple's Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together. And we're going to be giving that away here towards the end of our conversation.
Dorian Mintzer: There's a picture of it.
Casey Weade: Yeah, there it is. If you check out our YouTube, I know you'll be able to see a picture, so The Couple's Retirement Puzzle. What is it that drove you to write a book like this? I find that many of us, as we decide to go down the path to write a book, put something out there in the world, usually it wasn't because we had it all figured out, usually we had some stumbling blocks, we learned some things, and we want to share that with the world.
Dorian Mintzer: A few things. Initially, we thought we would just do a workbook and then we discovered there was so much to say, it became a book, but there were some studies coming out from some financial institutions that I became aware of that, we became aware in the 2,000 steps. Basically, we're saying couples are not talking about retirement. And there were some statistics about people not knowing what money they had saved, not really having the sense of what they needed for retirement, not talking about what their expectations were for retirement. And that really influenced our decision to focus on couples.
And although written for couples, what I often say to people is that it's really helpful, to think the book can be helpful even if you're not in a relationship because if there's anybody significant in your life, it can be a partner, it can be your best friend, it can be adult children, these conversations are important to have with whoever is significant in your life, whoever is going to be part of your life kind of going forward. And the clinical work into some focus groups influenced by these financial studies, we focused on couples and we came up with these 10 conversations. And over the years, I've added a couple of others, but these were the ones that just came up over and over.
And in addition to the money, sex, and death, the nuances to it with people, and I think during that pandemic, people often have said that they'd sort of experienced what maybe being home with retirement was kind of like, but it's thinking about time together, time apart. It's having conversations about expectations of each other. It's having conversations about sexuality. Some people think it's all over after age 60, and it's not true. But that our bodies change, sometimes our needs change, sometimes our desires change, but sexuality is sensuality, and we're sexual beings, sensual beings. We work on it until our death.
So, it's going to be an important part of the conversation, plus, with gray divorce, there are more and more people who are suddenly out there wanting to date again, or people who are widows or widowers, and it's important to have conversations and interest in suggesting that the financial planners don't often talk about this, but the interesting statistic is that the over 60 population, that's a high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases because people think I don't need to use protection, I can't possibly get pregnant, but people need to be aware and know that we're sexual creatures that need to have conversations and be careful. You need to take care of yourself. So, that's another area.
Time together, time apart, relationships, and obligations with family. We have long-term marriages. We have families with children. We have families without children. We have solo agers. We have blended families. We have people together and not married. And so, each person in a relationship may have a different sense of obligations to family and that can create some tension, your kids, my kids, our kids. Who are we taking care of? Who we are helping to college? Who do we want to leave money for? Where to live? There are many more options now than there used to be, like in the parents' generation, on where to live. High percentages of people, I think, about 70% say they want to age in place, but if you want to age in place, it's important to think about what do you need to do to make your home accessible if you're no longer able to climb stairs or if you have to be in a wheelchair, if you can't reach high, and these are all important conversations then. Those are a few of them.
Casey Weade: What are the questions I want to ask? Whenever you put yourself out there in the world, especially you put a book out there like this, not everyone is going to like it. There's going to be the critics. There's going to be some criticism that you receive along the way, but I wondered, what are some of the criticisms or some of the things that individual said that they didn't like about the book?
Dorian Mintzer: I first want to start with one wonderful thing that people said that they did like, which is there was a wonderful review at the beginning saying it was like a counseling session in a book, and they really recommended it because it was a way that you and your partner could read the chapters together and at the end, there's fun work.
Casey Weade: And this is applicable for any age group, really, too.
Dorian Mintzer: And actually, in the foreword, the person who wrote the forewords, he thought it should be given to newlyweds. Not that newlyweds are thinking about retirement, but these areas, these conversations are important to start having early in your marriage, even before your marriage. And many couples don't do it around finances, around expectations of each other. And it can lead to a lot of disappointments. I think part of what we say to people is not all of this is going to apply to you. It's not like you have to read chapter to chapter. Some people feel like it doesn't relate to them.
I think the issue of sexuality, I think, has been-- I mean, some people just aren't comfortable with issues around sexuality. In fact, when we self-published initially, and then it was picked up by a publisher, and there were some issues of using the word sex rather than sexuality. So, we needed to make some changes to make it comfortable for people from different religious backgrounds. And it's always hard to have to change parts of your book, but we tried our best to be accommodating and we changed it for the most part, but some people are going to take offence of different parts of them, but in general, I mean, maybe there has been criticism, but I'm not as aware of a lot of criticism other than some people sort of say I dealt with it, it's not helpful.
I wish that we went more into legacy as I give talks now more about legacy and I'll get more into end-of-life issues. We initially wrote the book and we self-published it in 2011, and then it was picked up by a publisher, and we published in 2014. And the different things I would stress now that we're in it and I try in the chapters that I write for other books to stress those things or when I give talks, but I think probably, the criticism is just not relevant to what I'm going through right now. I probably should go back and read some of the Amazon comments.
Casey Weade: Don't do that. No, it'll not help your confidence. It's going to happen. You're going to have critics, and that's really fine. And maybe you already answered this, but I mean, you've dialed it down to 10 conversations you should have. I have a feeling you started with, well, more than 10. What would you say be one of your one or two conversations that you think you really wish you could have put those in the book and made it 11 or 12 conversations?
Dorian Mintzer: Well, as I said, I think specifically on legacy and I think specifically on end-of-life issues, I would have them as separate. They're interspersed in other chapters, but I think in hindsight, I would have had them separate. We do have at the end kind of an addendum. What if I started out making plans, and it didn't go as I planned, either divorce or widowhood? I might have put a bit more energy, I mean, not energy, but emphasis on having that be part of the conversation rather than more, I think they call it detours, but again, it's sort of seeing what the changes have been over time, but I think that I would have added more about that.
But I think time together, time apart, the expectations, the where to live, the social life, well, yeah, it was Chapter 2. When I say even in the best of relationships, we need other people. We need a sense of community. And I'm a strong believer that it's important for people not to be kind of connected at the hip. The healthiest relationships are when both partners, married or not, same-sex or not, feel like they're whole separate people, and then the coming together is the interdependence rather than you come together, and two halves make a whole. It's really good if two people can feel whole. Maybe that speaks to your question about people feeling whole younger. What if two people can feel whole, and then the relationship is like the icing on the cake. We got the cake personalized. It was the cake.
Casey Weade: That's great. I love the analogy. I can see someone going down the road right now thinking, oh, when I get home, I can't wait to share these conversations with my spouse or they want to pick up your book, read through it, and then they want to have these conversations with their spouse. I'm one that I read a lot, I listen to a lot, I go to a lot of conferences, attend a lot of small groups. And when I get home, I just can't wait to have this conversation. That doesn't always go over well.
Dorian Mintzer: I was going to say.
Casey Weade: How would you recommend that someone start this conversation or set this up with their spouse?
Dorian Mintzer: It doesn't always go well. And I do say that it's like in a dance, one person can take the lead and you can help, the other person follows. It doesn't always happen, but I think it's important to say I'm thinking about this stage of life more and more, and I'd like us to talk about it. The first part of the book actually focuses on communication because as I said, we saw these studies coming out saying couples aren't talking. So, the whole first part of the book is Communication 101.
So, we have this acronym called BLAST and we say have a blast when you're talking. So, it's B-L-A-S-T. So, blaming gets in the way. So, to the best of your ability, use what are called I statements. I'm thinking about, I've been wondering about, I'm curious about. And try to avoid you statements, like you don't, you do, you never. Even if it's not intended, you statements are blaming and shaming. And if you feel blamed and shamed, I know if I feel blamed and shamed, I get defensive, I get reactive. And so, if somebody feels blamed and shamed, and they get reactive, and then you get reactive, and we have this dance of being reactive with each other. So, blaming gets in the way, use I statement.
Listen without interrupting. None of us are born good listeners. In my field, in your field, we have to learn how to actively listen to people. And I think couples need to do that, too. It's so easy, particularly been in a relationship for a while. You hear the first few words and it's like, oh, I know where this is going, and you're already thinking about your brilliant response. Now, you might be right, you might know where it's going, but you could be wrong. You really need to check it out. So, it's really helpful to listen. And there's a little technique called mirroring where just before you respond, you can repeat back what you hear and say, "This is what I heard you say. Is that accurate?" And sometimes, you heard the worst part, you missed the second part, or maybe you didn't even remember the second part, you missed the first part, but we all want to feel heard, and it could really help the conversation. So, let's listen without interrupting and really, actively listen.
The A has a number of things. Partly, it's don't make assumptions, and we say assumptions get people into hot water. Agree to disagree. You're not going to agree on everything, but I appreciate what you're hearing, and I think that's the really important one. You may agree to disagree, but sometimes a simple question might just help me understand why that's important to you. It can really help. I remember at one workshop a long time ago, a woman came up to me and said, "I never thought to ask that of my husband." And in this little exercise that we had at the workshop, and she asked him why something is important. She said, "Now that I understand why it's important, I want to try to make it happen." So, it's simple but important so the A has a lot of meanings. Agree to disagree, don't make assumptions, and just appreciate what you're hearing.
S is set a time and place to talk, a safe place. So, for some people that can be at home, for some in a restaurant and outside restaurant nowadays, for some in a car, some people, but if it's going to be heated, it's probably best not to do it in the car, but many people that I've worked with have said that when they're going on a drive, the person not driving will read the chapter, so the other person listens. And then they talk about it. And at the end of the chapter, there's sort of this more fun instead of homework. It's fun work, things to ask each other, things to try to do. Well, the S also is set a time limit. So, S and T kind of go together there. If you're not used to talking together, I recommend don't try to have like an hour-long conversation. You can say with an I statement, I've really been thinking about this. I'd like to buy time maybe tonight after dinner or during dinner. I'd like just to take maybe 10 minutes to just talk about what I'm thinking about. So, set a time limit because I think the beauty of relationships is you can come back to it. So, set a time limit, and then the T is talk without distractions. So, turn off the phone, turn off the computer, really try to listen to each other so that you can really be focused on the moment and the conversation. So, that's the BLAST.
And in the book, too, there are some parts about how to learn how to do problem-solving and how to compromise. The other thing that is mentioned in the book that I see a lot with couples is, it's so easy-- you may see this in your financial book too, it's easy for people to get caught in what I call polar positions, my way or your way, or win versus lose, and that can be really counterproductive in a relationship or at whatever. And so, I always say it's helpful if you could kind of open up this little space for the “we” of the relationship and think win-win. So, sometimes it's your way, sometimes it's my way. It's not going to balance out one by one, just it never will, but if it's too lopsided, that's when there's anger, resentment, feeling taken advantage of. So, try to keep win-win in mind. Those are pivotal points and tips.
Casey Weade: That's goal, Dorian, BLAST. So, a little refresher, blaming, don't blame, say I, not you. Listen, don't interrupt. And mirror, ask back, repeat what you heard. Assumptions, don't make assumptions, agree to disagree, appreciate the other individual's position. Set a time, a time limit and a place, and talk without distraction. Those first three, they're not easy. The first three aren't easy, blaming, listening, assumptions. It's so easy for those things to go awry, but I see U and S and T, and I can see how that can help overcome the first three, but I feel like what we typically miss, we either get the B, L, A right, but we forget the S, T or we get the S, T right, and we forget the B, L, A.
Dorian Mintzer: Good point.
Casey Weade: So, well, Dorian, thank you so much for that. I wish we had more time. I have more conversations I'd love to have with you, but first, before we tee up your book, I wanted you to talk a little bit about a webinar that you have coming up.
Dorian Mintzer: Thank you. That started in May 2012. I start it on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 12:00 noon Eastern Time, that I have a free webinar and it's open to professionals and the public. I discovered that I've been at so many conferences and met so many people, and I really wanted to bring these experts to people who don't often have the opportunity to hear them, maybe a little bit of a parallel of what you're doing with your podcast of bringing experts in. And so, the sign-up always is the week before at www.RevolutionizeRetirement.com. Once you sign up, and as I said, it's free, you'll get the call and information. It's a telephone call or a computer call, not video, but that may change in the not-too-distant future.
And once you've signed up, you'll get a recording link in case you're not able to be there live. And so, it's free. You get the recording link. And it's every month except December because that's just too close on the holidays. And if you go to my website under the kind of Interview or the Interview, it's called the Fourth Tuesday, Revolutionize Your Retirement: Interviews with Expert Series to Help You Create a Fulfilling Second Half of Life. And you can kind of go into it and see what's upcoming. And you can look and see who've been the people that I've interviewed in the past.
And I'm beginning now to come out, I've just started, the first one just got published a couple of weeks ago. I'm beginning to do some transcriptions from some of the interviews. And the first one, as I said, just came out, I think, it's like two weeks ago. And little by little, I don't know that I'm going to do transcriptions for all of the people I've interviewed, but I edit it, and it just comes out as a nice little book, e-book. It's an e-book, but also a little paperback. So, there are going to be some transcriptions in some of them, but I would welcome all of your listeners. It's free. Tell other people about it. And I've just been able luckily, to just have some wonderful people. That the people I've mentioned, the books, Ken Dychtwald, Bruce Feiler, Life is in the Transitions, they've been my guests, as well as Robert Laura, I mentioned that at the beginning, and a lot of other people. So, I just welcome your listeners.
Casey Weade: I love that. I love seeing individuals that are putting value out there in the world like you are and expecting nothing in return. That's beautiful. I wanted to give away your book today. So, Dorian has so kindly sent over a box of her books. We're going to give them away until they're all gone. All you have to do is this, to get a copy of The Couple's Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversations for Creating an Amazing New Life Together, all you have to do is write an honest rating and review for the podcast, subscribe, and then shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your iTunes username and your address. We'll send you out the book at absolutely no cost. That's really it. It's easy as that. Dorian, thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom and insights with us here. And I look forward to getting together in person someday in the future.
Dorian Mintzer: I look forward to that, too. And thank you for inviting me. It's great to be on the program.
Casey Weade: Thanks, Dorian.