Crucial conversations

Alan Spector is an author, business consultant, baseball player, traveler, and grandfather.  He has authored four published books, including, with coauthor Keith Lawrence, Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement (  Alan and Keith conduct workshops across the country helping prospective and current retirees plan the non-financial aspects of their retirement—to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives. 

By Alan Spector

In one of our first retirement life planning workshops, we asked the attendees to share why they were at the session.  When it was one gentleman’s turn, he said, “Hi, my name is Jim Smith, and I’m here because I’m planning to retire in a few months, and I want to learn about how to best spend my time.”

Well, that seemed right, as his expectation of the session was consistent with what we were planning to cover.  Then the shock occurred.  The woman sitting next to Jim stood up, leaned over him, and screamed, “You’re what?  You’re going to retire?  That’s the first I’ve heard about it!”

We’ve been surprised how few couples have talked with each other about their individual and joint retirement plans.  And this is not just about married couples.  Your retirement will significantly affect those closest to you, spouse, partner, friends, aging parents, adult children.  And they will have an effect on your retirement.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to figure out retirement by yourself.  We’ve developed a list of “crucial conversations” and have posted them on our website,  Look under “Preparing for Retirement,” then under “Planning.”  

You won’t need to have each of these conversations with each of those closest to you, but the list will prompt the right discussions with the right folks.  And you may have other things you need to talk about that are not listed.  The key is to make sure neither those closest to you nor you are surprised as you enter and journey through retirement.  

Yes, Mrs. Smith calmed down and the couple was able to take full advantage of the workshop.  It was a teachable moment for them, for the others in attendance, and for us.  We’ve been using the example ever since to make the point—have the “crucial conversations.”