390: Creating Your Purpose Driven Retirement Bucket List with Jet Vertz
Today, I’m talking to Richard “Jet” Vertz. He’s a retired aviation business executive who spent 40 years in the aerospace business, a U.S. Navy service officer who served in Vietnam, and a teacher at the University of Rhode Island’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
His latest book is Purpose Driven Retirement, in which he shares a process designed to help readers create their Purpose Driven Retirement Bucket List–goals based on hobbies, passions, strengths, limitations, and aspirations to achieve in this far-reaching phase of life.
In our conversation, Jet shares life lessons from growing up in an orphanage in war-torn Korea before being adopted by an American GI at the age of 11, why a life of leisure in retirement isn’t always as fulfilling as we think it’s going to be, and how to chart a new course for the decades to come–no matter what life stage you're in right now.
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In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- Why it’s easy to start feeling like a “taker” after the honeymoon of early retirement wears off.
- How Jet started his first purpose-driven retirement group–and how finding and defining purpose in this stage of life gave him the structure and support he needed.
- How to do a “purpose checkup” to make sure your life is moving in alignment with what you want–and want to give.
- The difference between dreams and goals–and how to make the big things you want from life specific and achievable.
- How (and why) to create a lifeline to tell the story of your life on a graph–and find your passion (and so much more) along the way.
- "Purpose, I define it as something that you are doing, not only for yourself but also doing something good for the world, good for the community, good for your family. Of course, that includes something that you want to do for yourself so you can continue to thrive and survive." - Jet Vertz
- "Life of leisure is okay. However, make sure that that life of leisure has some component in it such that you are not just only taking but somewhere in that leisure you're giving back." - Jet Vertz
- "I like to just do things as long as it's not an evil thing to do. And when I find something, I want to pursue something, do it boldly." - Jet Vertz
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Casey Weade: Welcome to the Retire With Purpose podcast. My name is Casey Weade. And if you're new to the podcast, I want to let you know what we're here to do for you, and that is to deliver clarity and purpose and elevate meaning in your life through personal and practical financial strategies but we don't just do that on the harder side of finance, the numbers and the IRAs and all the acronyms and the RMDs and the QCDs. No. We also do it on the very softer side of retirement. That doesn't mean it's any easier. That also means that it's just as important as those numbers and sense of retirement. And in order to provide that content to you, every single Friday, Marshal Johnson and myself, we get together, we cover a trending topic with you, usually out of our Weekend Reading for Retirees email series. And then every other Monday, we provide you a long-form interview with one of our world-class guests to provide a wide variety of different types of content. And as a Weekend Reading subscriber, you actually have the opportunity to co-architect this interview along with us. So, if you want to get signed up to receive that weekly email and also have the opportunity to inject your questions into the conversation, all you have to do is shoot us a text, texting the key letters WR to 866-482-9559.
With that, I want to introduce your guest for the day. I'm really excited for the story that you're about to hear and all of the steps that we're going to provide you with or that Jet's going to provide you with today to elevate the experience you're having in your life and in your retirement. Today, we have with us Richard Vertz, also known as Jet. Jet is a retired aviation business executive. So, this is a real-life retiree. I love having the opportunity to interview people that are right where you are. He has spent 40 years in the aerospace business. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam era as a U.S. Navy service officer and currently is a teacher at the University of Rhode Island's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on the subjects of purpose-driven retirement computer fundamentals and histories and mysteries of aviation. He is the author of The American Dream, as well as what we're going to focus on today, which is his latest book, Purpose Driven Retirement: Generating A Purpose Driven Bucket List, which is what we're going to dive right into. But, Jet, before we get into that, first, I want to welcome you to the podcast.
Jet Vertz: Thank you. I'm excited. I'm very privileged to be interviewed by you.
Casey Weade: I'm so excited to have you here with us. And I want to jump into, of course, the Purpose Driven Retirement. You have such an incredible story. I want to make sure others know what life's been like for you because I think that shapes the way that you think about life and why you do a lot of the work that you do today. And I want to take this all the way back. When I'm looking at your bio, I understand that during the Korean War, you lost your parents. You were five years old and you lived in the Korean streets. You live in orphanages until the age of 11, where you were adopted by an American GI and immigrated to the United States. So, you spent six years of your life there, age five through age 11. I'm wondering what that experience was like. I'm curious how that experience has shaped your life and made you develop on the passion that you have today.
Jet Vertz: Well, actually, I would say my life was shaped probably 90% of who I am today is based on what I experienced in living in the streets of war-torn Korea and living in an orphanage. Everything I do, I look back as to how during that period shaped me as who I am today.
Casey Weade: And what elements of that experience were most impactful? What's the one memory from that time in your life that stands out maybe more than any other?
Jet Vertz: Well, I like to tell a little story. It’s a real story and relates to my experience and how that relates to real-world situation. When I was first adopted in my town that I lived in Wisconsin and my adopted mother wanted me to go and learn English by just interacting with kids. So, I was 11 years old when I first came to the States, and the very first day she brought in five other 11, 12-year-old kids and, "Here’s a new guy in the block. Go and play, whatever you want.” So, what they did was they took me out to play tackle football, 11, 12-year-old guys playing tackle football. And in Wisconsin, football is real big deal because of Green Bay Packers during that time and I did pretty good. I did very well. And that's where I picked up my nickname, Jet. At first, they were calling me Ching Chang, whatever, and later on my adoptive mother found out that they were calling me a Ching. And I didn't care. And my adoptive mother said, “No, no, no, absolutely not. Don't call him Ching.” So, they decided to call me Jet.
Anyway, so I left that town and went to college and came back. I met up with the guys and having a drink and I asked the guys, “Hey, by the way, one thing that you guys gave me my nickname, Jet, and I just like to know why you call me Jet.” And they said, “Well, when you're playing football, you are so good. You can run and you can dodge around people so well and you must play football when you were in Korea.” I said, “Oh, no. I didn't even know what football was.” I say, "We play soccer. I had no idea.” He says, “But how did you know how to run so good and especially how you dodge around people so well?” So, I said, “Well, when I was in Korea, living in the streets, sometimes you have to shoplift food, clothing, and sometimes you get caught and you have to run. You have to dodge around people.” And my friend says, “Boy, you are so good. I thought for sure that you learned how to play football.” And I said, “You know, I may not play football, but I played real-life football, dodging around people to make sure you don't get caught. I guess that's what football is all about.” Just give you an example, you know, what I learned and how it applies to today's world.
Casey Weade: Yeah. Well, I'm sure that took a tremendous amount of grit to get through that stage in your life. And obviously, you've put a lot of that to work and the life that you have today going on to getting your bachelor's degree and your MBA and joining in the service and so much more, and today, authoring books and teaching classes around truly meaningful things in life. And I understand that you retired at age 65 and I guess you shared that for the first 6 to 8 months, retirement was a bit of a honeymoon. You enjoyed those first 6 to 8 months and then you said you began to feel like a taker. What did you mean by a taker? Did you kind of go back to your youth when you're running through the streets and shoplifting or what did that really mean?
Jet Vertz: Well, what I meant by taker is here I am, I'm eating food every day. That's a resource. I'm breathing in oxygen and I exhale carbon dioxide and climate change but I am not producing anything, any good for the humankind. You know, when I was in aviation industry, we manufactured jet engines so people could go around in different places using jet airplane. And here I am. I am just taking things in and exhaling all the carbon dioxide. I feel like, wait a minute, I should be doing something good for the world rather than just taking it and letting everything out. You know, I should be creating something value for the world. That's the way how I feel. I feel that my mental and physical being is still good and I just felt that I should be more contributing to the world rather than just taking it, taking it in, and just generating non-useful things.
Casey Weade: Yeah. I can relate to that and I really truly appreciate that because I know for myself when our second son was born, I was forced into a temporary retirement, considered actually stepping away entirely, and reshifting my focus away from what I had actually been gifted to do. And after a while, I felt the same thing. I wouldn't call it a taking feeling. I didn't frame it that way but I enjoy thinking of it that way. That makes a lot of sense probably for the broader public. From a religious standpoint, I felt I was blessed with certain gifts from God that I was now throwing away, in a sense, spitting in the face of God and all those talents and gifts that I had been given that he wanted me to give back to the world. And I think this generation of retirees just have such a huge opportunity to give back with all the wisdom and experience and time that now is on your hand to truly give back. And I'm thinking for you, that shift must have taken place. And correct me if I'm wrong, did that shift take place when you formed that group of other retirees that were struggling with purpose at the University of Rhode Island? Or was the shift for you at a different point?
Jet Vertz: I actually took the shift just before meeting up with the other retirees like myself at University of Rhode Island. I decided, I deliberately decided, proactively decided, "Hey, I should create something, do something, make myself something to be more productive.” So, I actually came up with a process of five steps process of going through, generating something that I could be doing something productive. Then later on I went to University of Rhode Island, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and I realized I met a lot of other people. They were just like in a same shape as I was, retired but they were just not really giving back. And that's when I decided I should conduct a class so others could follow through the five-step process, which I went through to develop some purpose-driven things to do.
Casey Weade: So, the development of this group to make sure we have the timeline right, the development of the group itself, that came prior to teaching the class or setting up the class, correct?
Jet Vertz: Yes, that's correct.
Casey Weade: And I know there's other retirees or even pre-retirees, probably more importantly, that are saying, “I would like to do the same thing. I would like to be around other people that are like-minded at the stage of my life that I am in, that are thinking about these things, that are actually thinking about purpose and meaning in this next phase of life.” And they're not really sure where to start. Could you share your advice to someone that says, “I want that, I want to have what Jet created, that group of retirees, the group of pre-retirees struggling with purpose?” How do they do that for themselves? What would you say to them?
Jet Vertz: Well, that's a very good point. In fact, the process I went through to writing a book really came through with this group of people. I had sort of my way of doing things. I didn't have a specific five-step process. I had a set of steps I went through. I wasn't thinking about this much, but it was a step one, step two, step three. But when I got together with a group of retirees, and when I decided to actually conduct a workshop for them to do it, then I realized, “Wait a minute, I just cannot wing it. You know, I better put this thing in writing step by step.” And that's when I actually came up with the five-step process. And of course, in the beginning, the person that I was working with, I met him at the fast food restaurant for like McDonald's and Burger King's. Every morning we sit down and, "Hey, this is what I went through. These are the steps I like to use.” And we sort of worked it out together and eventually, I put everything in paper and I decided I will conduct a class.
Casey Weade: I love how intentional you were at this phase of your life. And that's clearly showing up in the life that you're living today and it shows up very clearly in your book, which I love the title. So, my latest book is Job Optional, but for many of the fans, they remember my original book that was somewhere around a decade ago, and it was The Purpose-Based Retirement. You wrote The Purpose-Driven Retirement. I love that. You wrote Purpose Driven Retirement: Generating A Purpose Driven Bucket List. And I want to kick this off. I think we all have a different concept of what purpose means in our lives. How do you define purpose, Jet?
Jet Vertz: Well, purpose, I define it as something that you are doing, just not only for yourself but also doing something good for the world, good for the community, good for your family. Of course, that includes something that you want to do for yourself so you can continue to thrive and survive. But beyond that, you want to keep giving back to the country, giving back to the community. That's the way how I see it.
Casey Weade: I think for many retirees, this is kind of a new concept. And I think for our listeners, this is natural. Yeah. They're already thinking about these things. However, for some, that word purpose is kind of big and grandiose and maybe even a little woo or fluffy. And some may say, “I don't need that. Why do I need to define a purpose for my life?” And why can't a life of leisure simply be fulfilling?
Jet Vertz: That's okay, too. Life of leisure is okay. However, make sure that that life of leisure has some component in it such that you are not just only taking but somewhere in that leisure you're giving back. That leisure could be just babysitting your grandchildren and helping your daughter or son to give a break for them to take care of kids. That's a purpose. Giving something back, it could be minute as just babysitting but still that is giving something back just beyond just yourself.
Casey Weade: And everything that you're saying there, it goes back to one of the things that I believe in one of our core values here is we're all here to do the one thing. I think we all share the same purpose, that one thing being to help people. It's just how we're uncovering that unique way that we're helping people. And many are trying to figure this out as they go through this next phase. I don't think most really get to understanding this much like you did. We have that first 6 to 8 months of the honeymoon phase and then we go, “Uh-oh, I need something else,” and then we start thinking about purpose. Then we start thinking about how we're going to really shape this next phase of our life, just like you did. And we had a great question. So, what I want to ask and think about this question in the frame of when do we start this work? So, when do we start this work?
And I want to get into answering that question using a question from one of our Weekend Reading subscribers. It was submitted by Brian. Brian said, “I've read that a new retiree should take a year or two to just get used to not going to work every day and see how life settles out before making big decisions about what they should do next. That same source also suggests retiring to something instead of retiring from something. So, it makes sense. But is that the right sequence? Should we make these decisions prior to retirement or do we need to go through this first year or two of just settling in and getting comfortable before we make some of these big decisions?” How would you address Brian's question?
Jet Vertz: That’s an excellent question. Some of the people who attend my class, I originally thought it would be just all the people like myself who retire after six months or so then you come to this class. There were several people who came to class just before retirement. Six months before retiring, they wanted to come to class so they could figure out what to retire to, not what they're retiring from. Okay. So, I think, it varied from people to people. There are people who is much more have a foresight and planning. Perhaps they want to take a class six months before retiring so that they could retire to something. But then there are other people like myself, retire and after about six months or a year or so, I need to do something different other than just sailing around and walking the beach and doing nothing. So, I think it would vary from people to people depending on what station in their life and what stage in their retirement it is.
Casey Weade: Yeah. I don't know if there's any research around this but I'm sure you can speak from experience and all the people that you've taught, coach, listen to your friends and family that have went through this process prior to stepping into retirement. They retired to something. Maybe they architected a strategy for what they were going to do every day, the work that they were going to do, the impact that they were going to make, where they were going to volunteer, the business they were going to start, or whatever that might be. And I wonder how many of those people that put that plan together prior to retirement, how often does that actually work, or do they then put it into practice and you often see, “No, that's not the way it was.”
Jet Vertz: I have not found anybody who actually put together before they retire.
Casey Weade: Really?
Jet Vertz: Yes. Most people tend to take this class after about a year or so after being retired. Right now, I am conducting a class and one person who's attending class he’s 80 years old. Eighty. Okay. He's been retired for about 20 years now. And I asked him, “Geez, you’re 80. You could be teaching this class.” He says, "No, no, no, no. I was just floundering around and I did a lot of things. I accomplished a lot of things after I retire. Guess what? I need to come up with something different beyond just what I've been doing. I've accomplished everything. I thought I come to your class to figure out what should be next 10 to 20 years of my life should be.”
Casey Weade: That's beautiful. And how often do you see that, that someone's coming back? They're having these conversations and they're 75, 85, 95 and still understanding that there's work to be done.
Jet Vertz: Yeah. Yeah. But even better yet, I have one person who's 80 years old who's attending my workshop, and I have another one who has taken my class the very first time I developed this workshop in 2013. It's a lady. She's retaking the class. And I asked her, “Well, wait a minute. You attended my first class. Why are you back here?” She said, “Well because I finished everything that I set out to do. I wanted to come back and create another set of purpose-driven things to do going forward.”
Casey Weade: That’s amazing. And this whole process and maybe this is what people are coming back to do, they're getting what you call a purpose checkup. So, can you tell us a little bit about what a purpose check-up is and why it's necessary?
Jet Vertz: Well, purpose check-up is a list of I have 20 different questions asking them as to which stage of their life they are in. And I give them actually put a rating 1 to 5 and some just what stage in their life they are in, their purpose checkup would actually tell them whether they are living a purpose-driven life they set out to do, and checkup would give them sort of a checkup as a medical checkup as where you are and stage of your physical being. This will give you where you are in your purposeness of living.
Casey Weade: Yeah. And one of the questions we had from Mark and, Mark, thank you for your question. Mark asked a question kind of laid out where Mark finds himself right now, spending time in the arts and volunteering, church, etcetera, grandchildren, other activities, and traveling with his wife, etcetera. And he asked about a purpose statement asking, “Do I need a purpose statement? And what is a purpose statement?” What are your thoughts around purpose statements, if any?
Jet Vertz: I don't think it needs to be a purpose statement. In fact, during my class, during my workshop, I did not ask people to come up with a specific purpose statement, rather it’s what you are doing. How satisfied are you, you are with what you are doing, and how you feel in you contributing back to this society, back to the world? So, it would be different for different people. And I don't think one should come up with a specific purpose mission. If one could do that, that would be fine but I believe that could change. So, don't come up with some statement that you are tied into it, but be somewhat more fluid as you go along.
Casey Weade: Yeah. And I see that happen a lot in business. Someone comes up with a mission statement or they identify their values and then they just feel stuck in those things and they can't evolve. And that's the reality is your life's going to change, your identity is going to shift, your purpose is going to evolve over time.
Jet Vertz: Yes.
Casey Weade: And it's important for us to do what so many people sound like they're doing, coming back and taking your class and just doing another checkup and really continuing that evolutionary process throughout their entire life. Your book is written around creating a purpose-driven bucket list, and I wanted to ask, as we get into the bucket list structure and your step-by-step process there, why did you choose bucket list? Is there a difference between a bucket list? And so, one of the things that we do here with our team and we do it at home with her family is creating a dreams list. So, we do dreamstorming. Do you differentiate between a bucket list item and a dream-based item and a goal-based item, I would suppose? You have bucket, dream, and goal. If you were to differentiate between those three, what would that look like for you?
Jet Vertz: Well, I would say that they all are somewhat similar. You know, dreams list, eventually, that dream could become reality and make it into bucket list. One of the steps that I go through when I ask them to develop a purpose-driven bucket list is I ask my attendees to actually put it in writing. I tell them to memorialize your things that you want to do, and when you memorialize it by putting in writing, don't just say, “I am going to Europe.” I want you to specifically say, “I will go to a certain location, let's say Paris,” instead of just say, “Europe.” And you want to say, “When are you going there?” And put that in writing to be very specific, what I call it SMART mode. Be very specific, something that is measurable, something that you could do, something that is achievable. For instance, do you own a wheelchair? Don't say you're going to run a marathon. Okay. And something that is realistic. And finally, put it in writing that it is time-bounded. So, instead of just saying, “I'm going to Europe. Say that I am going to Paris on 2024 such and such timeframe. When I'm there, I'm going to spend one week and go to the Louvre or whatever museum they're going to have.” Be very specific. I ask people to actually put that in writing and memorialize it by putting in writing.
Casey Weade: And these things sound more like goals. These are goals...
Jet Vertz: It is. Yes.
Casey Weade: Because they're achievable, right? In many instances, dreams are that takes you out of your comfort zone. Now, you're thinking about things that may not ever be possible, but you're putting those things on a list to help yourself dream. But I’d say there's benefits of both of these things. And I think that goes along with Gary's question that he submitted for us asking about the purpose-driven bucket list containing easy targets or are they large goals? How big are these goals? Are they tiny goals? Are they big goals? Are they medium-sized goals? How do you measure those things? And just how grandiose should they be?
Jet Vertz: Well, it depends that depending on if you have enough resource to circumnavigate the world, yeah, you can put that in there. But if you don't then, yeah, you can say, hey, you just kind of go and visit San Francisco. So, I think it will be different for different person depending on where they are, what stage in their life, and what sort of financial resource they have, and how physically fit they are.
Casey Weade: Well, maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves there and starting to think about those things because the first step to your five-step process is to spend time reflecting, reflecting on your life from birth to your current state by plotting your life on a graph called a lifeline. Okay. I love this idea. I love a good graph. You know, I love a lot of the things that you put together because I'm very engineer-minded. I always worked really well with engineers because that's the way my brain works. And I love a good graph or a good chart. So, what does this chart look like? How do we go about graphing our lifeline or charting our lifeline on a graph?
Jet Vertz: So, let me first explain why I came up with the lifeline. As I indicated to myself and my friend, we were talking about how a person should reflect to figure out who they are. Knowing who you are will help you to make yourself what your future will be. And first thing I did was I asked him to, “Why don’t you write down something, your past?” And typically, when you ask them to do that, they will actually write an autobiography. It becomes too long. And I asked them to share that. It just becomes too long a story. So, being an engineer, I said to myself, "We've got to find a way to make this thing much shorter. Make it simple. Make it into a graph.” So, I asked him to, “I tell you what, instead of writing an autobiography, I want you to graph, put it in, and plot XY coordinate of your life. And X coordinate is years since you were born to today by every year. Then Y coordinate is joy-sorrow index. Most joyous period in your life will be ten and most sad point of your life because somebody died or you got divorced, let's say that could be lowest point is zero. And I tell people to, okay, instead of writing your autobiography, I want you to plot your life in a graph. And any events that you come across when you were born, you didn't have a choice of you have to be born or not so I want you to make that to be five. From that point on, tell me which point in your life you are most happiest and I want you to rate it. The happiest point would be ten, saddest point would be zero, and plot your life in that order. The key event for dates not every year, just a key event for years, event for a period. And connect that in a line by XYZ coordinate line.”
And I tell people to, "Okay. Now, come back, come to the class. Now, use your lifeline to explain your life.” Otherwise, it's almost like you're writing an autobiography, except they get to put that in a graph form and make sure that I tell them to make sure you do not have any more than 15 eventful points. Either it’s joyous point or sad point that they get to explain. And by doing so, they would have to sort of go through whole their life at what happened. They have to go through from the things that they remember. By doing so, they will be able to figure out who they are reflecting on their life, what point was so high point that they were so happy. What point was so sad that they don't like to encounter that again? And after going through the whole process, I tell them to summarize their life by listing what are their core values, what are their strengths that made them be successful in some points, and what are their weaknesses. And they would actually explain that. By doing so, they would be able to reflect their life, the past as to what type of person they are. And I asked them to put in also at the end, "What are some of your passions that you want to be passionate about? Is there any unfinished business that you like to do, perhaps you might want to do during the retirement period?” And they would actually write all those things down. That's step number one, reflecting their life and listing what they were good at, what they were not so good at, what were their passions. Perhaps there's something they like to do it again. Then we go to step two.
Casey Weade: Before we go to step two.
Jet Vertz: Yeah.
Casey Weade: Let me ask you, I'm curious about a couple of different things. One, as we were just sitting here, I'm going, “Well, I'm going to do it.” So, I kind of plotted things out and I came up with a little chart that looks something like that. You know, it starts off so to five, it gets better, then it gets terrible in high school and then, you know.
Jet Vertz: Yeah, exactly.
Casey Weade: It goes up from there. We got a sick kid. It goes way down and then it goes way up. Is there a standardized pattern that you've seen? As you've seen so many people do these, is there kind of a rhythm to the patterns that show up in people's lives?
Jet Vertz: Yes. Typically, they are happy when they graduated from high school, graduated from college, okay, and when they get a first job, when they get a first house. Most people have a sad point when their mother or father passes away, their best buddy dies, or they get divorced. So, it definitely goes up and down. No one is a straight line.
Casey Weade: No one's a straight line.
Jet Vertz: No, no. And whether you believe it or not, I had two people who took my class because of lifeline. I asked him, “Why are you taking…?” And all those who take my workshop I ask them, “Why are you doing it?” And two of them said, “I came back because I feel like I cheated on my lifeline when I was drawing the lifeline explaining this to class so I wanted to do this one right this time.”
Casey Weade: Jet, when you did this for the first time, I'm curious, what did you learn about yourself as you went through this process of creating your lifeline?
Jet Vertz: Well, first of all, I thought it was emotional because you go through the whole repertoire of all everything you did going way back, how I lost my parents, how I lived in the streets, how I went into orphanage, and how I got adopted. And you connect this thing together. You're looking at your life from beginning to today, and you go through a rollercoaster of events and make you very emotional. And I felt because of that emotion, I thought it was really good exercise to do and people to do that and share that in the class. I have so many people, when they share their lifeline in a class, they actually cry, okay, because they're going through some emotions they're going through. They have to recollect their emotion, and resurfacing their past.
Casey Weade: It's a beautiful way of doing it. I've seen it done in the past. But as you said, it becomes a little bit more autobiograph... Autobiograph... I can't even say it. But you start creating an essay and I feel like it loses a little bit of its power. You get kind of lost in typing or writing, and it just becomes a bit of a challenge for many. That's such a simpler way of doing it. I think it's very intuitive and a good visual is what comes out of it, which is awesome. So, okay, let me get back into it. Step two, we're redefining.
Jet Vertz: Okay. Step two, I tell people, "Okay. Now that you have to reflect on your past, who you are, and you know who you are, I want you to redefine who you are today as a retiree.” And to actually do that, I asked them to develop or generate a personal calling card which will replace the business card when they were in their career business. Because when I was in business, whenever I met somebody, I shake hand, I turn elbow, I hand over my business card. So, there's all the information of how they could kind of contact me and whatnot. When I retire, I feel like I didn't have anything. I meet somebody, I didn't have anything to pass on to them. So, I feel like maybe I should have my own personal calling card. So, I actually developed a calling card based on who I am today as a retiree, not who I was as a career or professional person. And I asked them to actually do that. Make the calling card, which represents who you are today, just like your business card represented who you were in your profession.
Casey Weade: And I take it this looks much different. I'm not envisioning a calling card that says retiree or I'm retired. I'm imagining maybe the card doesn't have the word retirement on it at all. Maybe it has something along the lines of your core values or some of the things that you spend time doing your hobbies and influence. What does a calling card look like? Can you provide an example?
Jet Vertz: Yeah. I'll give you a couple of examples. I start with getting my calling card. I am an avid snowboarder and skier. So, that's my hobby and passion. Okay. And so, I have in my calling cards on the left-hand side of my calling card is a picture of me jumping up a clip on a snowboard. Okay. It's sort of once people see my calling card, they're going to look at, "Oh, somebody's jumping up snowboard. Who's this? Is that you?” Okay. So, it defines me who I am right here, then. Then on the right-hand side, on the top of my calling card is my name, Jet Vertz. My telephone number and email so people could contact me. Just below it, on the middle of the card it says, “Retired Aviation Business Executive who's retired but not to a rocking chair, but rocking the half-pipe,” sort of showing who I am. And on the bottom section of that section, I have one line which I like to live by, and that is I said on this line it says, “Just do it, but do no evil and boldly go where no man has gone before.” That says who I am. I like to just do things as long as it's not an evil thing to do. And when I find something, I want to pursue something, do it boldly. So, that's who I am. So, that card explains everything about who I am.
Casey Weade: Well, I miss golf. I understand you’re an avid golfer, too.
Jet Vertz: Yeah. And I have people make those kind of cards all the time. Okay.
Casey Weade: And there's a couple of things there. One, you have to understand just how inspirational this guy is and the goals that Jet has set have not been small goals. And one of those things that Jet did is he set this goal to ski 50 ski resorts on five continents in five years. He started in 2013, ended in 2018. So, he actually did that. He actually accomplished that, which is really amazing. Number two is what I see there is I don't feel like you created an entirely new identity for yourself in that calling card. You brought a lot of things forward from your past into your present. And it wasn't a redefining of who you are necessarily or the development of an entirely new identity. What are your thoughts on that, as so many say? Well, when you step into retirement, you need a new identity but I don't know that I really feel that that's what you did.
Jet Vertz: You're right. Maybe I should rephrase that. When I say redefine, it's just a defining who you are today rather than really redefining. What I said in a calling card is who I am. Really, because when we are in a professional career, the calling, the business card pretty much defines who you are. You know, hey, this guy works in the financial field, this guy works in the aerospace business, but I am no longer that. So, I wanted to have anybody actually come up with who you are today as a retiree.
Casey Weade: Yeah. And now we're just really placing what I see as the important things first, which we should have been doing earlier in our lives. Someone ask what we do, we say, “I'm a husband, I'm a father.” Right? Then maybe we get to what we actually do for a living, but really prioritizing who we are and what we stand for. So, now we're categorizing. So, we did. We reflected, we redefined. Now, we are in step three, categorize.
Jet Vertz: Now, what I do is I tell people in a categorizing thing, I ask people to, hey, listen, I want you to go through and make a list of all the things that you want to do before you move on from this earth. However, I want you to do this in three categories. Category one, do something for yourself, personal or selfish, such as jumping off an airplane with a parachute, visiting Grand Canyon, or circumnavigating the world, something that you always wanted to do something for yourself. Number two, category number two, something that you want to do for your family such as a lot of people put down, “Hey, I like to arrange an annual picnic for my family, annual get-together,” things like that. Okay. Then number three, something that you want to do for your community or the world or the country. One really example that one of my attendees did was for the community, for the world, he said he wanted to join Peace Corps and he actually did join the Peace Corps. Okay. So, I asked him to don't just come up with something, just selfish thing only, but do things three categories. Do something for yourself. Minimum of five things that you want to do for yourself. Number two, do something that you want to do for your family, list of five things. Then make a list of five things that you want to do for your community, country, or the world.
So, that's what I asked them. Step number three, don't worry about whether you're going to be able to do that or not. I just want you to put in the list things that you always felt that you wanted to do. Just make that list. That’s step number three.
Casey Weade: Well, there's a great visual that you have in the book that I want to share. If you want to see this visual, check it out. We'll have it in the show notes. Or if you're watching on YouTube, you can actually see this. But you actually have this awesome little visual that I threw in my notes that I love how purpose is right here in the center and purpose is made up of those three things, your family, your community, your personal, and all of those things go into this bucket list. And you need to come back and tell me if I'm getting this wrong but all of those things go into that bucket list. This becomes this purpose. There's something you didn't mention. It's sitting on this platform of resolution.
Jet Vertz: Yeah. So, that’s slightly going to the next step. What I do is the app to share all this list of three things they do, and people tend to put in there that are more of a resolution type rather than purpose-driven thing to do. The way I look at it is a bucket list is something that you want to actually go and accomplish, whereas a resolution is something that you want to do, something that you are already doing, but you want to improve upon it. So, what I do is step number one after making the list, I ask them to, “Okay. Since you've got five things in each, I want you to filter out the resolution and put that as a separate column as a resolution, and keep the things that you haven't done it, you want to accomplish it, that's a bucket list.” Okay. Then going through the process, I don't want you to throw away anything, including resolution. Resolution is something that you want to do. You want to improve yourself. For instance, you say, “Hey, I want to go exercise. Instead of just walking the streets, I want to actually run.” So, there’s a slightly different tune to it. And it’s good that you want to have a resolution to improve yourself. So, essentially, that list of three things becomes four categories, things that you want to do for yourself, for a family and the country and the community and the world, and a resolution on the bottom as to, "Hey, things that I'm already doing it, but I want to improve upon it, make it to be better.”
Casey Weade: I love that. And I hope, as you're listening to this, I hope that you're not just listening to this. You're receiving a college-level course here. So, listening, pausing, doing the exercises, going back, listening, pausing, doing the exercise. I think this can be massively impactful for so many. So, we've got step number one, reflect; two, redefine; step three, categorize; and now we're on step four, memorialize, which I know you already touched on this to a degree, but let's make sure we keep things in order here. And I know you gave an example of what this looks like, but I guess the question might show up in asking ourselves, “All right, I have this list.” Which one of these items gets memorialized and how do we accomplish that?
Jet Vertz: So, what I do is step number four, okay, now that you got this list of four items, I want you to pick out two items from each category, and I want you to reflect on those two items. I want you to actually do some research to see whether you could really accomplish that. Okay. Then I want you to put that in writing in a SMART mode, SMART. Make sure as you memorializing it or putting in writing, make sure it is in very specific term. Okay. And it is something that, as you write it, make sure it’s measurable, okay, and it is something that you could achieve, achievable, and it is something that is realistic that you have money or you have resources to make that happen. And so, you can accomplish this, put that in a time-bounded mode and put that in writing. So, I want to give you an example. One of my personal bucket list was I want to ski the world. Well, ski the world. That's kind of very broad. Okay. What does that mean? You're going to ski every country, every continent, every ski resort? It’s kind of broad. So, I actually had to do some research. Number one, is there a ski resort in every country and snow? Is there a ski resort on every continent? Well, there is a place you can ski in every continent. So, I did some research and I found out that every continent has really nice ski resorts that you can go except two continents.
Antarctica, they didn't have any ski resort but you could actually go and ski. You can take one of those cruise. You pay $15,000. They would take you there, two-week cruise, and on one day they let you luggage, take your ski up to the mountain and you ski down so you can actually ski. Okay. So, I said, “Yeah, I want to ski the world, but I'm not sure that I want to take a three-hour hike with the skis and my backpack to go up.” So, I crossed that one out. Then what about Africa? So, I researched in Africa. Africa actually has 14 ski resorts. Can you believe it? So, I went through and I said, “Hey, which one is the best one?” The best one is in Algeria. When I looked at the Algeria ski resort, it reminded me of literally a ski resort we have in Rhode Island. And I said to myself, “I don't want to do that.” But there are ski resorts, nice ski resorts in Japan, Korea, China, in Asian continent. There's nice ski resorts in Australia. And continent is Australia and New Zealand. Obviously, a lot of ski resorts in America, a lot of ski ski resorts in Europe. So, I rephrased the ski the world bucket list into SMART mode. And I said, “I will ski five continents at 50 different ski resorts in five years.” You see very specific. It is something achievable that I could do, something that is realistic. I could do that within the resources I have. And I did that and I accomplished that by 2018.
Casey Weade: And you did all of that without injury.
Jet Vertz: That's correct. I'm still in one piece.
Casey Weade: Well, that was a risk. Doing all that skiing, you had to be careful. Otherwise, you wouldn't hit your goal. So, then we get to step five. So, step five, our final step here is to share.
Jet Vertz: Yes. So, after it's all done, after you put that in writing in a SMART mode, number one, I asked them to share that in the class with their peers. And whether you believe it or not, they were particular. They would tell you this, “Wait a minute. Are you sure you can do that?” I was just realistic. Okay. And make sure they put that in writing, it is realistic, achievable, and they could do it in within time bounded. Then I asked them, "Okay. Now you have done this. Now, I want you to take this home and share this in writing with your loved ones, your wife or your husband or your brother or your grandmother, whoever,” because by sharing it, guess what? Now you are tied into it. They are going to make sure that you would do this. Now, then they're going to ask you, “Oh, by the way, did you accomplish this?” So, step number five is sharing what you have written, a memorialized, written bucket list with other people. So, they are going to make sure to help you to achieve that.
Casey Weade: Yeah. No, that's great. I know there's some listening going, “Well, I want to take the class.” I don't know if – is it possible to take your class online? Does it have to have in person? What if someone wants to take your class? What steps should they take?
Jet Vertz: Well, I've conducted this class about 20 times so far now. Most of them I teach here in New England region. A lot of senior centers would sponsor this and they will ask me to come and conduct a class into their senior center. I have gone. I live in Rhode Island. I've gone as far as just outside of New York, White Plains, New York. People wanted to take class senior center over there. And I have taken all the way up to Killington, Vermont. They have a senior center over there. They sponsor it. So, any organization or senior center, they could sponsor it and I will come and I will conduct the class. So, like I said, I conducted over 20 different classes. I am thinking of doing this in some sort of a Zoom mode. I haven't done it yet, but I am thinking about it and I'm pondering as to how I would want to do this.
Casey Weade: Who knows? Maybe we'll be your first sponsor in the state, in the Midwest here.
Jet Vertz: Well, maybe you can sponsor one. I’ll conduct. You sponsor it. You organize it. I'll be happy to do it at no cost.
Casey Weade: I love it. Let me wrap with this question. You’re on the Retire With Purpose podcast. What does it mean to you when you hear the words retire with purpose?
Jet Vertz: Well, to me, it means that you have some goal or some reason for living out the remainder of your life rather than just coasting, rather than just being a potato couch. You are doing something and giving back to your community, your country, your family.
Casey Weade: Thank you for that, Jet. And your book is fantastic. It can walk people through all the things that we discussed here. So, we partnered up with Jet to give away that book for free. He wants to impact as many lives as he possibly can. He shared before we got started, he said, “I'm not writing this book to make money. I want to help people.” And so, we're going to be giving away that book for free for individuals that write an honest rating or review over on iTunes for us. So, if you hop on iTunes or you hop on the podcast app and write us an honest review, then all you have to do is text us the word, BOOK, to 866-482-9559. We'll shoot you a link where you can give us your iTunes username, we can verify your review, and then we can send you your free copy of Purpose Driven Retirement: Generating A Purpose-Driven Bucket List. Hey, Jet, it's been an absolute pleasure. I know we're impacting so many lives here. And thank you for this time.
Jet Vertz: Thank you. And you can give away all the book you want to. Okay.
Casey Weade: Thank you.
Jet Vertz: Thank you.