Why “Hotel California” Should be Your Retirement Blueprint

My wife, Jean, and I recently went to a Don Henley concert. Don Henley is one of the founders of the Eagles, the great rock band whose songs made up the background music for many baby boomers’ lives. Henley and his band played a lot of the old Eagles classics and covered some songs by other artists. At the end of the concert, when he walked off the stage, the crowd was on its feet cheering for more. As all great artists do, the band came back out for an encore, and Henley performed his most popular song, “Hotel California.” He saved his best for last, and the crowd loved it.

Saving Your Best for Last

It’s no secret that retirement is often the start of a long slow decline where people lose their zest for life and simply fade away. Other than money concerns, most retirees’ biggest fear is that they will stop living and start dying—that they will lose the identity they had in their career and diminish into insignificance. But the melody of your life doesn’t have to end on a bad note.

Seasoned entertainers, like the Eagles, all do one thing: they take time to prepare their curtain call. They aren’t surprised or unprepared when the regular concert set comes to an end and the audience is clapping. They have rehearsed how to leave the stage and come back on. They have reviewed their music and picked out their favorites. They know the starting chord and are ready to go when the time comes.

An Encore Blueprint

Too many times, retirees fail to prepare for their encore beyond a couple of trips, some golf or fishing, and perhaps a move to a retirement community. They have a general idea that they want more freedom, some fun, and some dreams fulfilled, but they have no blueprint for it. They have no framework for building such a plan.

If you want your retirement to become your encore, let me suggest three steps that will help you create an Encore Curve blueprint: wise up, plan up, and win the now.

  1. Wise Up – Repurpose your past “songs.” Not every song the Eagles produced made as big an impact as “Hotel California.” Some were outright flops. Your past, too, is made up of great triumphs as well as crushing defeats. If you spend your future regretting the things that did not work, or trying to relive the things that did work, you doom yourself to live in decline. But if you can learn to extract the wisdom from these life experiences and use that wisdom as the basis for moving ahead, you will start to know the content of your most satisfying encore.
  2. Plan Up – Visualize a bigger future. It’s often said that if you have no vision for the future, you are doomed to live in the past. As we age, our past naturally becomes bigger than our future in terms of years. It is a simple fact that, in retirement, you have fewer years to live in your future than you have already lived in your past. But that doesn’t mean that your future cannot be more exciting, more focused, and more impactful than your past. It only means it won’t last as long. An encore never lasts as long as the whole performance, but it’s always the best.
  3. Win the Now – Make the most of each day. Musicians like Don Henley practice and rehearse so that every note and every song is played to perfection. Great golfers focus on each stroke; baseball pitchers want to win each pitch. The point is, we want to live life as if each moment matters. If our future is limited by number of years, and our vision and goals for that time are big and compelling, then we must make every day count. Now is the only time we can control. The past is gone, and the future is yet unwritten. Therefore, we can only live in the now. To make your encore really count, win the now.

You have a choice as you face retirement. You can either let this phase become a time of decline or you can proactively choose to make it your time of encore. The encore decision means you have a plan to save your best for last. Rather than slowly walking off the stage into oblivion, you enjoy the best performance of your life and leave your audience clapping for more.

How can you get started? Through my book and workshops, I teach retirees how to repurpose their lives and reorganize their money so that retirement becomes the most exciting and impactful time of their lives. My Encore Curve program will help you create a great blueprint for your future.

image credit: eagles.com

About the author – Andy Raub is known as “America’s Encore Coach” because of his passion to help retirees repurpose their lives and reorganize their money. An early baby boomer, he has been a financial advisor for 35 years, bald for 40 years, and husband to Jean for 49 years. Andy has the skill of a teacher, the insight of a writer, and the heart of a coach. He is “Dandy” to four teenage grandchildren, Dad to two daughters, and irritant to two sons-in-law. Andy is the author of the new book The Encore Curve – How to Retire with a Life Plan That Excites You and the founder of the Encore Curve program. See how The Encore Curve process can help you clarify your life and simplify your money at EncoreCurve.com.

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