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Retired – Or Retooled?


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Once upon a time, retirement was equivalent to being put out to pasture. People left work behind for the rocking chair or the golf course.

Today’s retirees can retire and retool, in any number of ways. If they haven’t yet done so, it’s helpful for those approaching or in retirement to take a long look at how they might use their skills and experience for others’ benefit — or to enhance their own later years.

“Why did you retire?” is the candid question one seasoned loan officer puts to his clients. “Retirement doesn’t just mean not being employed. It should mean having the time you looked forward to for new ventures and exploration — new skills to acquire, learning about things you’ve wondered about — and can present an opportunity to touch the lives of others in some meaningful way.

“Have you retired from life, or are you pausing long enough to launch into new endeavors?”

While retirement planning is not the same as financial planning, the two are, of course, linked.

One shining example of someone who came fully into her own later in life is Prosperity Place founder Joan Sotkin, who created this role in her fifties. I met Joan in person at that time, when the Web was young; I doubt most people on her webinars, website or teleclasses today have any idea of her age. So I read her December 2014 newsletter with glee. Excerpt:

The Truth Will Set You Free!

“As many of you know, over the years, as I have experienced my own financial healing, I shared much of the process — and my progress.

Around March 2014, I sensed an internal shift and realized I had finally reached the conclusion that it’s totally okay to be Joan Sotkin, which has not been an easy assignment in this lifetime.

Within three months, my income increased significantly. I noticed that drawing in clients and other wonderful connections happened almost effortlessly.

Then, a few months ago, I started making guest appearances on other people’s podcasts and realized that there was a part of me I was still hiding: my age.

Here’s the truth.

At the end of this month, I’m going to be 74. I’m healthier and more active than I have ever been before, and don’t consider myself ‘elderly’.

I decided instead of trying to hide my age, I need to embrace this truth and consider how to leverage the advantages of age.

Suddenly, new doors and opportunities are opening as I realize that I have a lot to offer people 50 and over who want to — or know they have to — reinvent themselves.

The moral of this story?
If you are struggling financially or are worried about what the future holds for you, perhaps it’s time to look at how you are trying to fit someone else’s definition of who you should be.
The truth of YOU will set you free.” Happy 74th birthday, Joan.

I also love this sassy piece by Margaret Wente on “How not to act old — even if you are”. After admitting she doesn’t have a smartphone or a solid grasp of what a social media marketer does, Wente closes with:

“This is the best time in history to be old. We’re the youngest older people who ever lived, and extraordinary numbers of us can expect to avoid the impediments of age for many years to come. Many of us still have engaging work. We jaunt around the world. We do nearly all the things we did when we were 30, only slower.

“But hardening of the brain, like hardening of the arteries, is something that creeps up on you, and you must do what you can to resist it. My advice is to spend more time hanging out with people who are 10 or 20 or 50 years younger than you are. You might learn something. They’re pretty smart.”

Aging, like life itself, is an endless practice, observes poet, philosopher and best-selling author Mark Nepo, 63:

“The fate of being human is that our spirit is revealed like the arc of a comet. The outer surface of our life is worn away as we move through time, our center getting brighter as we fall through the years. Living through the time we’re given, we keep becoming more essential, until all that’s left is light.”



Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at:

Leave a Comment


  1. Great article and stimulating. This is a good piece to read for all of us!

    Thanks for posting it Shannon, I appreciate you.

    Make it a great day,


  2. Hi John,

    Actually, I wrote this piece, not Shannon. He does the bi-weekly videos and posts occasional breaking news blogs; otherwise, I’m the main blogger.

    Glad you found this so helpful!


  3. Super article, Amara, as always. Great insight and thought provoking.. You are a real Jewel, and I love the way you can stir the pot and get responses from all sides.

  4. Thank you so much, Dick! Your regular input and ideas for posts help make this blog the success that it is.

    I appreciate you immensely!!

  5. Retirement for the working class is a relatively new experience in the annals of human history. It is only in the last century that we have seen significant numbers of those in Western culture reaching age 100.

    When US Social Security was instituted 8 decades ago (yes, the 80th anniversary of the enactment of the Social Security Act will be celebrated this coming August), life expectancy was 65 years old. If the law used a life expectancy standard for benefit eligibility today as back then, normal retirement age for Social Security purposes would be well over a decade later than 65. The Social Security of FDR’s era was not meant to provide retirement income in the modern sense but to provide income sufficient to provide bare sustenance after living past expected life expectancy. It was little more than a safety net. Even up until the 1950s retirement was viewed by many as more Socialist ideology than a natural and normal stage in life.

    So from a historical view saying the following seems a little premature: “Once upon a time…. People left work behind for the rocking chair or the golf course.” The idea and experience of retirement are very much evolving and growing. Where this will end, no one can predict. However, like all things over a half century old, some early concepts must be discarded.

    Amara, while my perspective comes from a different view, you provide us with how retirement is evolving and that is something we all need to understand. So please keep up the good work in 2015. Thanks, The_Cynic.

  6. Hi The Cynic ~

    Thanks for the historical perspective. I figured most LOs would be familiar with the evolution of Social Security and its purpose; my lead referred primarily to the last generation. A new book, “Unretirement” by Chris Farrell, explores where we’re going in depth.

    • Hey Amara,

      History is a marvelous thing. It puts a lot of our living in the present into better focus and shows us how we got here and where we can expect to be going. It also exposes our over reliance on predictions and lets us see some of their outcomes. It also exposes our hubris in thinking how far we have advanced beyond our predecessors in understanding our future; so did prior generations much to their later dismay.

      So please forgive my insistence that retirement for the working class is a phenomenon taking root here in the US in the Twentieth Century due to the low life expectancies of prior generations.

      Over the next few decades we will be experimenting with how to accommodate the aging of America. There will be many mistakes, failures, and hopefully some successes.

      For me studies in depth on what retirement in the future will look like would be like reading 1984 in the 1960s. While the pessimists and even some optimists were sucked in by that nonsense, the extreme position in the book just did not match up with historical experience even though Mao’s China and Stalin’s Russia were quite unsettling in their days. Yes, surveillance and government intrusion were and remain a huge concern for free societies but we live in a much different society than was predicted.

      Enough about historical perspectives. I am glad that you summarize retirement trends and others’ views so well. Again keep up the good work.

      Have a great 2015!

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