Monday, July 27, 2015

BookPastor >> "Launch Your Encore" (Hans Finzel and Rick Hicks)

Many nations around the world are facing this big issue: An aging population. We need to encourage a re-launching of a person's sense of purpose. This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on May 11th, 2015.


TITLE: Launch Your Encore: Finding Adventure and Purpose Later in Life
AUTHOR: Hans Finzel and Rick Hicks
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015, (208 pages).

In America, more than 76 million people are above 60 years of age. Some call it retirement phase. Others call it the golden years or the silver hair period of life. After many years of active working, this phase of life is often marked by slowdowns  physically, mentally, and emotionally. In such later years, what can these people do? They may retire from their jobs but they cannot retire from life altogether. Moreover, with more people living longer and the pace of society getting quicker, it can be very challenging for people in this age group to cope. Rather than to be shoved aside, the authors of this book believe that retirement is more an opportunity rather than an unwelcome phase of life. The premise is this.

"The word retirement should not be an exit sign, but a door into something fresh, new, and exciting." (17)

This "final act" may very well be this particular generation's "greatest contribution." How is it possible, one may ask. The authors frame the process in four parts.
Part One is about tackling the challenges of aging, with an underlying belief that there is more life after careers. Going through some life stage models (Erik Erickson, Daniel Levinson, and Ray Rood), the authors try to point out that different stages of life demands different sets of expectations. They dispel some myths that tend to paint old agers as people draining the nation's resources. They point out the inevitability of transitions that affect every individual, some sooner while others later. Coining the term, "elderlescence," growing old can open up new opportunities for volunteerism, wisdom cultivation, new ventures, and others. They even challenge the elderly to read a chapter from Proverbs each day. Part Two is about choices that can make or break the journey. In financial matters, Finzel and Hicks suggest ten principles for managing one's finances. They share stories of success as well as failures. They present the following four questions to help prepare one's encore.
  1. Current: What are you doing right now to fill your time?
  2. What fuels you?
  3. What are your dreams about your future?
  4. Reality Check: What do others think?
They teach us to use life mapping in order to brainstorm our history, create our maps, to make sense of them all, and to divide our chapters according to past, present, and future. The promise is that with clear life mapping, we will approach the future with greater "hope, direction, and choice." There is even a chapter on lessons from Tolkien's fictional character, Gandalf! One such lesson is to recognize that when we age and change, the relationships with the people around us change as well.

In Part Three, we read of some fascinating stories of individuals who have found their encore. Couples like Daryl and Karen Poppen who planned for their elderlescent years together ten years earlier or professionals like Julie Clark whose love for flying motivated her to make plans to do some private flying herself even after retiring from her public job. Tom Zeulner's story is an example of a "rolling retirement" in which his skills and experiences are not laid to rest but adapted to a new environment at a different place and time. People such as Dorothy McCullough testifies that the encore years present opportunities for even greater impact. With freedom to pursue her interests, she gets involved with various charitable initiatives.

Part Four dives into the planning proper. We learn about how the Bible affirms our worth, especially for those of us in the 60-80 age window. Readers are given a list of self-assessment tools to work with. The DISC test gives us an idea of our work behavior while the Myers-Briggs shows us our perceptions and judgment skills. StrengthsFinders determines our top five strengths. Spiritual gifts highlight what God has given us. Opportunities abound in volunteering, teaching, tutoring, mentoring, writing, serving on boards, consulting, caring, advocacy, and many other activities. They conclude with nine stages of the encore plan.
  1. Listening to the voices of the past
  2. Completing the "me at my best" exercise
  3. Identifying one's temperament
  4. Facing fears
  5. Clarifying dreams
  6. Defining finances
  7. Prioritizing time commitments
  8. Brainstorming specific options
  9. Envisioning the Future
Finzel and Hicks are leaders in their own organizations. Finzel is President and CEO of WorldVenture, a non-profit based in Colorado while Hicks is North American area leader for Operation Mobilization USA. With penetrating insight into the needs of the people in the 60-80 age window, they write with earnestness to not only encourage people in their golden years but also motivate them to make a difference in their remaining years on this earth. 

Retirement is not something we let it happen to us. It needs to be something we actively prepare for. The more prepared we are, the better we can live through it with meaning and purpose. Rather than to simply treat this book only for people in this 60-80 age group, I think it benefits people who are much younger so that they can better plan for it. Just like Daryl and Karen Poppen who took ten years to prepare for their retirement, the earlier we prepare the better. As much as we say that there are opportunities to reframe our lives in our later years, there are also opportunities to use our best years to produce the best plans for us to retire. I believe that it is never too early to plan for retirement. Go beyond mere financial planning. Take care of one's emotional changes and relationship shifts. Go easy with our expectations even as we expect others to be easy with ours. Have a greater focus on the things of God, to learn biblical wisdom and appreciate spiritual insights. If there is one thing that would be most important, it is to cherish the wisdom of years.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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