No country for no retirement planning

I thought "No Country For Old Men" was one of the Coen brothers' better films, and I was disappointed it didn't win the Golden Globe for Best Picture. Hopefully, that's not a harbinger of Oscar things to come.

Thinking about hitting your neighborhood giga-plex to see it? You're in for one terrific -- albeit, unrelentingly violent -- ride. And I'm about to blow the ending, so stop reading here.

If you've seen or it (or don't care to), and want to learn what in the world this film said to me about retirement planning, well, here goes.

One of the final scenes finds a newly-retired Tommy Lee Jones nursing a morning cup of coffee, his craggy, 60-something sheriff character having just disposed of the case of his career. His female companion gently asks, "how did you sleep?" He stares blankly ahead. He's got, as they say, nothing.

He's got nothing, because he's got nothing to do. It's all gone. Javier Bardem (or anyone remotely of his villain'silk) out there to erase? No mas. Assorted bank robbers, drug runners, burnt-out cars, desert-strewn cadavers? Sayonara. Lazy days at the stationhouse, waiting for the call? Buh-bye.

You don't have to be a small-town lawman with little else around to do to feel despondent and aimless upon calling it quits. Recent pre-boomer, and early boomer retirees I work with -- mostly professionals from major metro areas -- tell me this all the time. The numbers on depression and rising divorce rates within the first five years of retirement – the collateral damage -- belie how poorly we plan for life after work.

The problem is, nothing is what too many of us want out of retirement. And like too much other bad-for-us stuff, nothing is way too easy to get.

But crank it all the way down, and chances are, you'll find it's the last thing you want. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Too many of us go through our careers, our lives feeling overburdened and under unhealthy stress. Too much to do, too many bad guys to chase, too little time. Wouldn't it be nice just to stop?

Nothing is the absence of a retirement plan, or perhaps the opposite of one. It's great to have enough bucks in the bank to live on, but that's a plan for your money, not for how you'll spend your time. And if you don't think you have enough bucks, a plan is even more important, because you (literally) can't afford a mistake.

Happily, most of us have more options, and interests, than the Jones character in "No Country." We have plenty going on around us, strong family and social networks, and a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw on. All the right ingredients for a fantastic, fulfilling life after work.

Jones's lawman lived hard, so he may not live out the 25 or more years many of us will in retirement. That's way too long to spend doing something like, well, nothing.

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