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Podcast 406

406: Discovering The Four Phases of Retirement with Dr. Riley Moynes

Today, I’m talking to Dr. Riley Moynes. Dr. Moynes is a bestselling author, former financial advisor, and TEDx speaker. Not only has he coached countless individuals through their retirement journey–he’s experienced it himself.

His newest book is an updated and expanded edition of The Four Phases of Retirement: What to Expect When You’re Retiring. We’re going to dig into what these four phases are, but also how they applied to Riley in his own life.

In our conversation, you’ll learn how he waltzed through phase one, struggled through phase two, tried countless ventures in phase three, and found a new calling in phase four. If you’re trying to identify your unique abilities and create a fulfilling future, this episode is a must-listen!


Here's all you have to do...

  • Step 1.) Subscribe to the podcast and leave an honest rating & review over on iTunes.
  • Step 2.) Text BOOK, that’s BOOK to 866-482-9559 for a link to our book request page, complete the form and we will ship you the book for free. It’s that simple!

In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
  • Why the so-called ideal retirement gets boring fast for so many people.
  • What Riley learned by interviewing over 100 retirees about their experiences–and how he created a framework to help others live more impactful lives in retirement.
  • The real reasons so many retirees struggle with depression, marital strife, and ennui.
  • Why giving back and providing service is almost always at the root of finding purpose in retirement.
  • How Riley tried on almost a dozen projects over seven years to reach his “phase four.”
Inspiring Quote
  • "The highest rate of suicide in North America is men over 75. They can't see a way out. And so, the framework that I'm trying to put together allows people to see that it doesn't have to be this way, that there is an exit, and it's trial and error. It's moving forward. It's identifying some of these things." - Dr. Riley Moynes
  • "My belief is that identity as formulated by our unique ability and past successes can be applied in different areas than it might have been applied during a working career. But we bring these strengths and we bring these abilities, this experience with us. And there are so many opportunities to apply that experience and wisdom to other situations. And many people have difficulty seeing where those opportunities may be." - Dr. Riley Moynes
Interview Resources
Offer valid in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, to first-time requestors. During the offer period, receive one (1) in-stock book per request. Limit (1) book per week per household. Limit three (3) books total each calendar year, between January 1 and December 31. Offer valid while supplies last. Howard Bailey Financial, Inc. reserves the right to cancel, terminate or modify this offer at any time. Void where restricted or otherwise prohibited.
Read the Transcript

Casey Weade: Welcome to the Retire With Purpose podcast, where it is my mission to deliver clarity and purpose and elevate meaning in your life. And if you're new to the show, I want you to know we do that in a couple of different ways. Every single Friday we get together with you, we discuss a trending topic in the financial planning and retirement planning space on a wide range of topics. It could be health-related, it could be finance and investment related. We want to make sure that we're taking a look at the big picture when it comes to your retirement. And then what I love to have the opportunity to do is to engage with world-class guests. We bring you a world-class guest in a long-form interview every other Monday. That's what we're here to do with you today. And we're doing this with none other than Dr. Riley Moynes. Riley is a former financial advisor, bestselling author, a public speaker, and the author of several books, one of which was going to be our focus today.

But to give you an overview of his range of expertise, he has written The Money Coach, The Four Phases of Retirement: What to Expect When You're Retiring, and its follow-up, which is The Ten Lessons: How You Too Can Squeeze All The “Juice” Out of Retirement. We're going to touch on that today but it was ultimately reincorporated into this book. If you're watching on YouTube, the new and updated expanded edition of The Four Phases of Retirement. In focusing on that book today, those four phases, we're going to be exploring Riley's experience of waltzing through phase one, struggling through phase two, the dozens of ventures he tried in phase three, and how now in phase four where he helps retirees identify their unique ability, their life's high points, and their sweet spot for creating a fulfilling future. I don't know who wouldn't want all of those things and who better to learn it from than someone that's not only coached others on this very topic and through this phase of their life but someone that's experienced it for themselves.

If you'd like to get a free copy of the Four Phases of Retirement, we partnered up with Riley to give that away. And if you'd like to get that copy, it's super easy. Just shoot us a text with the keyword ‘BOOK’ to 866-482-9559. We're going to shoot you a link. When we shoot you a link, we're going to be asking for your iTunes username because in order to receive your free e-book, all you have to do is write us an honest rating and review over on iTunes and give us an iTunes username so we can validate it. And then ultimately what you're doing is helping us spread the word and giving us information that we need to elevate the content that we continue to deliver to you week in and week out.


Casey Weade: With that, I'd love to welcome Dr. Riley Moynes to the podcast.

Dr. Riley Moynes: My pleasure, Casey. Nice to be here. Thanks for including me.

Casey Weade: I'm excited to have this conversation. As I said in the open, it's wonderful to be able to have conversations with people that are actually experiencing it or have actually experienced these things in their life. As my father has said in the past, he said, "You're the retirement expert but, Casey, you haven’t experienced it yet.” And so, well, I'm going to overcome that by having as many conversations as I possibly can and educating myself as much as I possibly can. But, hey, nothing really trumps experience at the end of the day. And I want to kick off our conversation here around the open of your retirement. I think the line of our conversation here will very easily follow not just your book but follow your journey through all these phases of retirement. And one of the things that you said was that your transition to retirement was fuzzy. You used this word, fuzzy, and you experienced some challenges. And I want to understand what this definition of fuzzy is. And if this was a sudden realization of fuzziness and challenge or if it became something that was more apparent over time.

Dr. Riley Moynes: It was more apparent over time, Casey. As like most people who visualize the ideal retirement as one which is kind of like a vacation, that's exactly what I anticipated and what I experienced for a period of time. But as so many people find after that vacation period, which I refer to as phase one, which is just like being on vacation, where we do what we want, when we want, with whom we want, where we want, and we don't have any routine. What it's been portrayed as retirement, the ideal retirement has been portrayed as that type of existence. And for a while, it's wonderful. And yet, at the end of that time, whatever it might be, for me, it was about two years, some people it's shorter, some people it's longer, the truth of the matter was that I said to myself, asked myself, "Is that all there is to retirement? Because I'm bored.”

You can only play so much golf. You can only traipse along so many beaches. You can only do whatever it is that you thought you'd want to do forever for so long. And all of a sudden, it wasn't what I thought it would be. And it took me a while to kind of get to that phase or that position, that place but I experienced a sense of ennui. It just wasn't what I expected. And that's what was fuzzy for me because it was what I had hoped for until it wasn't. And now what? That was the fuzziness for me.

Casey Weade: It seems you could really change that word. It's almost interchangeable, that fuzzy word with something that so many experienced, which is disillusionment. It's this idea that you thought something was going to be something that it no longer is, and you're trying to figure out how to navigate your way through that. Now, before we jump into these phases, there's something else that stood out to me that you said that I think could offer a lot of value to people out there. I mean, this is actually an exercise that I've had the opportunity to participate in myself. And that is your wife, Yvonne. So, she talked to you. She pulled out a yardstick at some point. And I wanted you to talk a little bit about this yardstick experience and how that framed your thinking and where you're at today.

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, it really did. To me, it was surprising. It was shocking, frankly, when she pulled out this yardstick and said to me to put my finger on the yardstick where I thought I was in my life. And I found myself placing my finger much closer to the end of the yardstick than to the beginning. And I realized how much time had passed, which you don't even kind of think about and I realized how little time was probably left. I think I had placed my finger at about the three-quarter point of that yardstick. And it just kind of brought it all together to me that the time was getting away. The sand in the hourglass continues to slide to the bottom part of the glass and you'd better get on with it. And it was kind of a wake-up call for me and it was when I really started then to try to figure out what that fuzziness was. And that's when I launched my several-year research project to identify and to interview as many retirees as I could to try to get the big picture because I did not have the big picture at that time.

Casey Weade: That's interesting. You talk about having all these conversations with other people and it sounds like you didn't really realize where you were at and what kind of work you needed to do and how important the work was until you had a realization of your own mortality. Does every retiree have this realization and is it often significantly later? Do we have to have this realization and this focus on our mortality before we're ready to do some of this real work?

Dr. Riley Moynes: You know, I'm not sure that it has to be linked to mortality. I think, although that experience, that exercise was a powerful one, for me, it really had more to do with the realization that there was a very good chance that I was going to live one-third of my life as a baby boomer, along with the millions of other baby boomers. I was likely going to spend one-third of my life, quite likely 30 years or so in retirement. And I was, as I say, at the end of that about two-year period kind of gobsmacked by the fact that I was bored stiff and I really didn't know what was next. And yet I knew that there was probably a long time in retirement and I figured I've got to try to figure this out. And so, I started by looking at the literature. And of course, as you know very well, most of the literature focuses on the investment side of things, the estate planning side of things, the preparation of the will, and all of that kind of stuff. And critically important for sure, but just not what I was looking for.

And it was then that I was led to interview dozens, well over 100, and since then it's gone way beyond that of people who had retired and who initially I had been told at retirement, “Figure it out.” That's where I started kind of a smaller group and then it widened out because I realized that very few people had it figured out. And so, I put together a series of questions. The last question was always, "How do you squeeze all the juice out of retirement?” And I did that for about a three-year period, and I had massive amounts of information. And then my job was to try to make sense of it all. I have a background in teaching, and I know darn well that for me and for the students that I worked with, if there was a framework within which the information that we were talking about fit, it was much more likely to be understood by the students. And that has always been the case for me. If there is a framework, I can make sense of it but I didn't have a framework. That's where the fuzziness came from.

I was looking to create a framework that would be helpful to me and sure it was really all about me. And then I realized that this had applicability to props everyone who was in my boat, baby boomers, who were either about to retire or had just retired and were likely going to go through what I have identified as these four phases. Over the years, that has been solidified in my thinking. I mean, I put it out there originally as I'm positing that this is a worthwhile framework. And the reinforcement that I've had through comments from my TEDTalk and from all kinds of workshops/presentations has really validated for me that this framework can be extremely helpful and has been extremely helpful to many, many retirees.

Casey Weade: Yeah. Well, I think it's much more impactful to take that yardstick story, and rather than having it be focused on mortality, it's much more inspiring if it's focused on the impact that we have the opportunity to make. And that's what I love about this. I know my wife and I, we think about this all the time. We go, “Boy, what we have done over the last ten years, where we've come from over the last decade is monumental.” Where I come from the last 30 years is about out of diapers, right? And to put yourself in that perspective, to go, “Wow, I've got 30 more years.” And what have I historically accomplished over a 30-year period kind of brings us back to that whole Tony Robbins thing where he'd say, "Well, we overestimate what we can accomplish in a year. We underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.” And we don't want people that are full of so much wisdom at this stage in their life to forget about the impact that they have, the opportunity that they have to really accomplish some amazing things over that 30 years of retirement or just the first ten years of retirement.

Now, when we get into these four phases of retirement, I'm curious if you've found does everyone experience these four phases. Do people jump around from phase to phase? Do they go from phase one to phase three? Do they skip phase two and go straight to phase three? What do these phases look like for the average retiree and does everyone experience them and in what way?

Dr. Riley Moynes: That's a whole lot of questions. Let's start with the four phases. There are exceptions but let's begin with the framework, if we can, to kind of set the big picture that I hope will be helpful to people. So, phase one is what I call the vacation phase. And that's the time when as I say it's described that many people think that's the ideal retirement. It's typified by lots of travel, by ticking off things that we might have had on our bucket list, maybe new golf clubs, a new sailboat, a sports car, maybe a warm weather residence, all of these kinds of things that we have kind of planned in our mind and now we have the opportunity to actually execute. Travel is a huge part of phase one, although it tends to be popular through many of the phases but especially in phase one, people either seem to be planning their next travel expedition or having just returned from it or planning. It's an important part of phase one.

But after a period of time, for me, about two years, I got bored and I asked myself, "As many people have validated, is that all there is to retirement?” It's what I expected. I thought that was the ideal but it's not. I'm bored. And that's when people fall into, or progress I guess might be the better term, to phase two, which is a phase when we suffer five almost unavoidable losses. There are some exceptions which I'll come back to if I may but for many people, they lose five key elements to their lives in phase two. They lose a sense of structure. Now, we were happy during phase one not to have that structure because we have had a structure that has managed our lives, whether they be at home or whether they be outside the home for years and years and years. And although we didn't always like that structure, we find that when we don't have it after a period of time, we need it. We see it as something missing from our lives.

So, in phase two, we lose that structure. We lose a sense of identity because many people, males in particular, but not certainly exclusively, identify with the work that they do. And when that work is taken away from them, whether it be through their decision or worse still, someone else's decision, there is a huge loss of identity. Part of them is taken away from them. Thirdly, we lose relationships that we may well have established in the workplace. Many of these relationships or some of them at least turn into good long-term friendships. And yet when we walk away for the last time, we're just a guy or a gal in the street and we lose those relationships which have been important to us. We also lose a sense of purpose because many, many people take what they do seriously. It provides a purpose in their lives. It's significant to them, and that's taken away when they retire.

And finally, for some, there's a loss of a sense of power because over a period of time, some of them have taken responsibility for perhaps the budget or staffing. And when that is gone, when they retire, that sense of power is gone as well. Now, we don't see these five losses coming. We lose them all at the same time and it's like, bang, gone. It is traumatic for many people and sends them into a tailspin. The Mayo Clinic says that there is a 40% likelihood that when you retire, you're going to exhibit aspects of clinical depression. It's as simple as that. That's likely going to happen in phase two. The highest rate of suicide in North America today, men over 75. Awesome. Huge divorce rate spikes over the last 20 or 30 years. The rate of divorce for people over 65 has tripled. It's amazing. It can be a ruinous time for retirees. And we suffer these five significant losses. But it gets worse.

It gets worse because not associated directly with retirement as these five are, there are the three Ds that many people face. They face decline, physical and mental decline, they face depression as I’ve just cited, and they face an increased likelihood of divorce. Now, these three Ds are not connected directly with retirement. They are more of a time-of-life problem, time-of-life challenge, but they overlap with the other five that are directly related to retirement. So, for many people, for most people that I have interviewed and people who have written to me who have said, "You have described my retirement experience almost to a T,” I know that this happens over and over again. And for many people, it can be a devastating period of time. Now, sooner or later, luckily, most people say to themselves, or perhaps a spouse, or a significant other, “Hey, I cannot go on like this. I cannot spend the rest of my life maybe 30 years feeling like this. I've got to do something. What can I do that's going to make my life meaningful again? What's going to make me want to get up in the morning again?”

And that's a good sign because when we start asking those questions, we're moving into phase three, which is the trial and error phase. And the good news is that when we get there, we recognize we've got to do something. And so, the trial and error part of it is we have to explore activities that are going to make us want to get up in the morning again. And it's unlikely, in my experience and in the research that I've done, that the first bright idea that we have along this line will be kind of the silver bullet. It's generally not. That's why I referred to it as trial and error or as trial and failure because there are lots of duds, lots of efforts, and I could cite many of them. I won't bore you with them all, but there are at least a dozen efforts that I made that fell flat. At some point, though, many of us, not all, many of us discover what that thing is that they want to devote themselves to. And they are the folks who move into phase four. And we'll see more about phase four in a minute because that's the spot that we really want to be, in my view.

But to come back, Casey, to the question about does everyone have to go through all of the phases, I think the answer is that probably about 80% of retirees do but there are two groups that I've identified who seem not to have to go through phases two and three. The first of those groups are entrepreneurs. These are people who have often been doing what they've been doing, and they loved doing it for a long, long time. They have no plans to ever retire in the traditional sense of the term. They might want to do a little bit less of what they've been doing for all this time while they're training someone else to take over for them in the long term but these are folks who just love what they do for the most part and want to continue doing it as long as they possibly can, although perhaps at a lower level of intensity. So, that's one group that doesn't seem to experience phase two or even phase three.

The second group are people who, during their domestic or working careers, have identified a hobby or a calling that is significant to them that they have devoted time to through their domestic or working career. Maybe it's coaching. Maybe it's teaching music. Maybe it's teaching art. Maybe it's photography. It doesn't matter what it is but these are folks who look forward to a time when they retire, when they can devote more time to the things that they have wanted to do all of their lives but they just want to do more of it. So, they're able to move ahead quite quickly, generally, into phase four.

Casey Weade: So, it sounds like with both of those groups as entrepreneurs, people that are very passionate about their work, or individuals that have a lot of hobbies and have put in some work into this prior to actually retiring, there's a common theme between both of them. Both of them have put in a lot of this work around purpose and meaning and what life is going to look like after retirement prior to actually getting there. So, are you saying that the majority of people just don't do that work prior to retirement?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Yes, that's exactly what we're saying. That's exactly what we're saying. And that's the reason, in my opinion, to one of your other questions. My belief is that about 60, only about 60% of retirees actually get to phase four. They have not thought about it previously and they have trouble figuring it out when they're in the midst, especially of phase two. It's pretty difficult when you're feeling depressed and suffering all of these losses to kind of look forward to what you really want to do. You're just trying to survive for that period of time. So, yes, the answer is yes. People have not generally done that. And so, one of the things that we try to do in our workshops is to provide some tools that can help people to identify what are some of those things that you're likely going to be able to use to find that sweet spot that you are yearning for to make your retirement as meaningful and productive as possible.

So, we help people try to identify, for example, unique ability, back to Dan Sullivan. What are the things that you love to do and do really well? I find in our workshops that people generally have not thought about that for the longest time, but everyone has got something or some things that they love to do and that they do extremely well. So, the suggestion is take some of those things and maybe apply them to a different situation than you had when you were working or when you were at home raising children. But these are some things you love to do, and there are opportunities to use them in your retirement. The second thing that we ask people to identify is what are five victories, five successes, five wins that you have experienced so far in your life? People don't think about these things until they're kind of challenged to do so. But it's interesting when people are challenged to do so, they can come up with something that they can come up with 20 or 30. We only asked them to do five, but it gives them something to build on that can help them find and identify where they want to go.

Now, the third, and interesting thing that we find in our workshops, is that people I posit to them that there is a connection between the things that you love to do and do really well and some of the successes that you've achieved in the past. People don't get that, generally, I find. They don't see that connection. And yet when they're challenged to do so, to draw those connections, like quite physically, to draw a line between things you love to do and some of the successes you've had, they, “Oh yeah, I get it now.” And so, we try to equip them if we possibly can to realize that they've got a lot to offer. It may be in a different area than they have contributed or used those skills in the past but there are a huge range of opportunities out there in retirement and we all need to find something to do that we find meaningful and productive.

And the underlying theme that I have seen in almost every one of these situations is that it's providing service to others in one way or another, perhaps on a voluntary basis, on a volunteer basis, perhaps not. But the feeling that people get when they provide service to others, whether it's mentoring, whether it's supporting a charity, whatever it might be, it's so fulfilling for them and the people in phase four have figured that out. Those are the ones who are the most successful. They have figured it out.

Casey Weade: You know, when we talk about phase one, I mean, all these things through phase four, it just sounds great. Everybody wants to get to phase four but it appears, though, I think it appears to most and even to myself, I mean, I see a lot of individuals that, of course, have struggled and gotten stuck in phase two or phase three and then have seen that but then it appears as though there are some that never leave phase one. And is that an illusion of social media and marketing or is there a reality that some never leave phase one? It is a permanent vacation and they never feel this loss of a sense of purpose. They never feel these three Ds. They just embrace the vacation.

Dr. Riley Moynes: In my experience, Casey, I have interviewed only two people who remain in phase one and say that they're happy to be there. One is a lawyer from Cleveland, Ohio, who managed a large law firm for a number of years, worked many, many hours a week. And he said to me, “Riley, I left it all on the playing field. I've got nothing left to give. What I want to do is I want to have my 10:00 tee time, three days a week, and I want my Manhattans every day at 5:00.” And that's what he does. And he says he's happy and I have to respect what he says. The second example is a nurse from here in Canada. She was an emergency room nurse. Worked, again, long hours and shifts through all her life. And she has used or she didn't use the same phrase, she kind of left it all at the hospital, as it were. And so, her life now is basically, you know, she does exercise and she plays mahjong, and she's a good bridge player but she's basically taking care of herself.

Interestingly enough, though, there is a Harvard Business School study that was a longitudinal study over a 20-year period, and they interviewed 15,000 retirees. They went back at five-year intervals over this 20-year period and asked a different range of questions as time moved on. And it was a voluminous study, as you can appreciate from Harvard Business School. But one of the phrases that is cited in that, that I always use in my workshops is this. It said, "The unhappiest retirees of all had not gone on to do anything beyond pleasing themselves.” And that's phase one behavior in my opinion. So, the majority of people do not stay. The vast majority of people in my research do not stay in phase one. It just isn't satisfying enough for most people.

Casey Weade: Does when you find people in that phase one and saying they're just thrilled they're in phase one, life's a vacation, what's that do to you? Do you want to shake them?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, they're both good friends and so I want to… Well, I respect what they say. I find it difficult to incorporate into my mindset because so much of the rest of the research, including the Harvard Business School study, says something different. And yet these are intelligent people, these are thoughtful people who just are tired, they're tired, and they don't have the energy anymore to do anything beyond kind of taking care of themselves. And I respect that. I see it as a very, very small minority but I respect what they say.

Casey Weade: Are you getting tired?

Dr. Riley Moynes: No.

Casey Weade: How do you not get tired and continue to do all the things that you do? And other people fall into this, “I'm tired. I don't want to do any more of this work. I'm exhausted. Just let me have fun.” Now, what's the difference?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, I mean, there's a time for that, and I respect that there is a time for that. That's phase one. But for me, I wanted to do something that's meaningful that is significant to me. I want to leave some kind of a legacy. I believe that the work that I'm doing and that I have done in this regard has been helpful to people who are either considering retirement or who are in retirement. I have all kinds of invitations to visit service clubs, church groups, as well as financial advisory offices who put me in front of their clients. And I believe that I'm providing a service because people have told me that it makes more sense for them when they contemplate this idea of the four phases and so many people, especially from my TEDTalk, have written comments as I said, "You've described my retirement in a way that I'm so thankful for and I could never have captured myself.” It's a wonderful feeling for me.

Casey Weade: Yeah. You know, we look at phase two. Yeah, I don't know that you would and I think you would agree. You wouldn't be where you are today without phase two. And when we get to phase two, though, it's painful, right? I mean, we're experiencing losses of structure, identity, relationships, purpose, power, and we want to escape that as quickly as possible. What is your guidance to people to find themselves in that phase that just want to escape it? Is there really power for them to stay in that place, to stay in phase two for as long as possible? Or is it let's get you out of this as quickly as we possibly can?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, it’s let’s get you out of it because we know darn well that people in phase two drink more than they should. We know that they gamble more than they should. We know that they commit suicide at a higher rate than almost any other group. It's a dangerous place to be. And so, my encouragement is always to try to move on. What are the things that you love to do that you know you do very well? What are some of the successes that you've had? And I encourage people to think of those things as vehicles to help them move forward, to find something that's going to give them much more satisfaction and sense of purpose than they are experiencing in phase two. It's a dangerous time. A dangerous time.

Casey Weade: And one of those things that, you know, if we take a little bit of a deeper dive into some of the details around these five losses, I want to start by talking about structure and structure for many they go, “I don't want structure. That's what I had my whole life. That's why I retired so I don't have to have the structure.” You know, what does structure look like in your life? Is there a degree of structure combined with flexibility so we can honor both of those things?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Absolutely. I mean, that's one of the advantages certainly of retirement. But I need to do certain, I mean, I think it's not just me. I believe that everybody has to have something to look forward to. And that is represented for most people by structure, whether it is, for example, I go and volunteer at our local hospital every Friday morning. Now, there are times when I miss that because something else comes up and that's the flexibility that I have, which I appreciate. But I also appreciate the fact that I know that on Fridays I'm committed to providing some service to other people, people who come to the hospital. I know darn well that no one comes to the hospital for the fun of it. They're under stress in many cases. And anything that we can do to help them ease that makes me feel terrific. So, that's just an example of this sort of thing. We need to have something to look forward to and I equate that to a form or structure but it also needs to be flexible enough that it can be adapted. It can be changed as time requires.

Casey Weade: Yeah. I saw this with my mom. I think she stayed in phase two for quite a while and then she got a job. And the job didn't pay very well. Not what she was used to. But I saw the dramatic difference in just her psychology by having something on her calendar that she needed to do, not even necessarily something that she had a passion for. It was just some structure. And just some structure brings a lot of value in our lives. You know, number two, you talk about loss of identity. And I always have a question around identity. It's a strange thing for us to think about what our identity is and losing that sense of identity and then recreating it. And I think we get this wrong sometimes as well. You know, as we step into retirement, you say we have a loss of sense of identity. Does that mean we just create a whole new one? How do we go about creating a new identity? Do we even really need a new identity?

Dr. Riley Moynes: I think we do need a new identity. And for some people, it would be to create a new one. But for me, more often it's a matter of remembering our identity based on the things we love to do and do really well, things that have led to success in the past. They help to form an identity. And my belief is that identity as formulated by our unique ability and past successes can be applied in different areas than it might have been applied during a working career. But we bring these strengths and we bring these abilities, this experience with us. And there are so many opportunities to apply that experience and wisdom to other situations. And many people have difficulty seeing where those opportunities may be.

Casey Weade: It seems like there's a lot of overlap between these losses and really overcoming them, the structure, the identity, relationships, purpose, power. And I think when we get that power, that's the one that goes, well, where exactly is this intersection? How does power differ from identity and purpose, for instance?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, there is a lot of overlap and I would be the first to acknowledge that. I think the power one doesn't apply to everyone because not everyone reaches a point in their working careers where they may necessarily have had any significant additional responsibility. But there is a group of people who do. And so, that loss just added to all the others just kind of puts almost a final nail in the coffin, as it were. Because, again, we don't see these things coming and they hit us all at once. That's one of the amazing elements to me that I had just never contemplated before. And so, that's what I was experiencing when I felt this fuzziness and it has really helped me to explain things in a way that is meaningful to me by seeing this framework and because in phase two when we're caught up in these things, part of our psyche is that we believe that the way things are now will be the way things are in the future. And that's not necessarily the case.

But if we don't have a framework and you're caught in phase two and you're experiencing all of these things, it can seem like the end of the world to you. And again, that's why, in my view, the highest rate of suicide in North America is men over 75. They can't see a way out. And so, the framework that I'm trying to put together that I hope to be helpful allows people to see that it doesn't have to be this way, that there is an exit and it's the trial and error. It's moving forward. It's identifying some of these things.

Casey Weade: It is, but it isn't at the same time in your writing anyways. We go from phase two, then we get to phase three. But you say that some people can either, you know, you can use phase three as a launching pad but for some, it results in a never-ending purgatory. So, how do we avoid getting stuck in that phase three? How do we avoid a purgatory of trial and error?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, my experience is that some people who try and are ultimately unsuccessful slip back into phase two, and they're the ones who are at risk for some of the statistics that we talked about. I have seen that happen. They try. They try. They try. They're unsuccessful and they give up. I have seen that happen. But again, for most people, most of the time, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again and you will. Most people will discover something that is meaningful enough to them that they want to try it because they have been experiencing phase two for whatever length of time they have and they're looking to escape it. So, people, I think, are kind of driven into phase three because they don't want to be in phase two any longer than they possibly have to be. It is discouraging to me, though, to believe. And again, I can't say this is a long-term study that I've done. It's more observational that about only about 60% of retirees reach phase four.

That, to me, is a discouraging number, one that I'm doing what I can to improve by providing these workshops where we give people an opportunity to develop some of the skills that I hope can propel them forward to phase four. But there is a lot of work to be done there. And I believe that a lot of the financial advisors have an opportunity in that area that broadens the scope and the depth of their relationship, or at least it can broaden the scope and depth of their relationship with their clients to provide services way beyond what they ever contemplated they would do. Huge opportunity there I think that is basically untapped as yet.

Casey Weade: We want this immediate gratification, get us out of that trial and error phase and into something meaningful. But it wasn't a quick thing for you. It's not a quick thing for most. About how long would you say you spent in this trial and error period and what's typical?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, for me, it was about seven years. I tried a dozen. About a dozen things of things that I thought were great ideas that would give me a sense of meaning and accomplishment. And I spent considerable time in some of them, only to be disappointed that they didn't work out. So, for me, it was about seven years. Well, again, it varies from person to person but I was surprised when I looked back and kind of documented the length of time that it did take me in phase three.

Casey Weade: Well, that should be encouraging for some. If you've been in there for three or four years, you're ready to give up, "Look at this guy. It took him seven years.” But it was worth it. I think you would say it was entirely worth all of that effort and endurance that it took. You know, getting into phase four, in phase four, you talk about maximizing phase four with four steps, unique ability, high points, purpose, sweet spot. You talked a little bit about unique ability and high points and purpose. Now, we haven’t hit on the sweet spot piece yet. So, when we talk about the sweet spot, I'm curious what is a sweet spot. How does that differ from purpose and unique ability? What's the intersection here?

Dr. Riley Moynes: I'm not sure that it differs from purpose specifically, Casey. I think it could well be interchangeable with that. But what I try to encourage people to do is, again, to the unique ability, at least five successes that they've had in the past, I encourage people to consider what does the world need. Well, I mean, that list is endless. Almost anything that you choose to do that provides service to others will be gratefully received. We know darn well that that's the case. And then the fourth element that I encourage people to think about is, "What's in it for me? So, why should I do this?” Well, in some cases, it may be a financial incentive. I mean, I know one fella who is one of my interviewees, who he delivers prescriptions for a local drugstore. He gets a little bit of money for it, but that's not really why he's doing it. He feels that he's making a contribution. It makes him feel good to take prescriptions to people who might live out of the way a little bit who can't get to the drugstore. It gives him a sense of real satisfaction. So, that's what's in it for him.

But there always needs to be something in it for us, whether it just makes us feel good as it does for me volunteering at the hospital or whether it's a little bit of beer money. But at the intersection where the unique ability and the five successes and what does the world need and what's in it for me, where they intersect, the little middle spot there, that's your sweet spot. Where you can meet all four of those criteria, that's where you want to spend as much of your time in retirement as you possibly can.

Casey Weade: And you can see why so many might not find that sweet spot because it's hard work. You can see the level of work that you put in. And one of the things you mention at the end of the book is a little bit of hard work. And I thought maybe you could share that with our audience this life legacy letter concept.

Dr. Riley Moynes: Oh, yeah. I love that one. Yeah. My wife and I are working on that right now. I just have this belief. I guess it's connected but I have this belief when I look back on my family and I know virtually nothing about or I know less than I wish I knew about my parents and I know a lot less about my grandparents. And the same is true for my wife, Yvonne. So, what we've undertaken is what we call this life legacy letter. You can call it whatever you want. Maybe it's a form of memoirs. Maybe it's very difficult to kind of provide a catch-all phrase for it. But basically, what we have done is to provide a little bit of our history, some of the challenges that we've experienced along the way, some of our trials and errors that we committed, some advice that we want to give to our children and grandchildren. Some of our religious beliefs, some of the decisions that we've made with respect to our estate planning, and some of the rationale for that, this is likely going to have a readership of about eight people.

We've got two sons and they're each married and they each have two children. And I expect that it will not be read by anyone kind of beyond that, frankly, but it's something that we feel we're certainly committed to. I mean, it's taken us a long time and there will be great gaps in time when we don't work on it. But it is certainly our intention and I would say we're more than halfway there to have this kind of a document we hope to complement it with some photographs of some of our ancestors, parents, and grandparents in particular so that our children will know more about us and about their grandparents than we knew about our parents and grandparents.

Casey Weade: Yeah. Technology can be so helpful today in producing this kind of content. My wife and I have been working on our own little podcast project, essentially taking these segments of her life and pivotal moments and lessons we want to teach the kid and recording them on our date nights and then putting that in a file so they can easily go back and listen to these things by date. And being able to do that sooner rather than later can be monumental. I know how much I would love to know what the heck my parents were thinking when they did X, Y, and Z. I love that you're doing that and so many have that opportunity. And so, you had a follow-up. You had The Ten Lessons and you squeezed all the juice out of retirement. And ultimately a lot of that content, along with additional updates went into your updated and expanded version of The Four Phases of Retirement. So, my question is, what was missing in the first version? And why did you need to update this? Why did you need to expand upon this?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, I began with the idea that less is more. And so, both of the original books were quite small. They were readable in about 45 minutes. That was another Dan Sullivan idea. And we believed that was the way to present these things. When it came to The Ten Lessons, what I realized was that I used examples from a number of people who had reached phase four who I believe were squeezing all the juice out of retirement. But I realized that there was so little space available in that book that we launched a podcast series to spend more time with some of the people that we interviewed for The Ten Lessons because it just provided, well, we did them for about half an hour and it provided more opportunity for some in-depth discussions of those folks. And then as we were finding new information, I continued to research and read and there were some new interesting pieces that I wanted to include. There were some facts that had to be updated, some statistics in particular. And we frankly ran out of copies of the original or the last edition, the sixth edition of the four phases. So, it just seemed to be the ideal time to have a little project where we put it all together, update, expand, and throw it back out and see what happens.

Casey Weade: That's great and it's all fantastic. We're going to have links in the show notes for all these things so that you can dive in deeper, the podcast, etcetera. You know, I want to bring this down to application for one of our listeners. One of our listeners, Brian, who's a Weekend Reading subscriber, sent us a question this past week. And I want to take all of these things that we just talked about. I want to see you can apply it to this real-world situation. I think there's a great application in this question. Brian says, “I am retiring at the end of the month. I'm wondering if I should take a few months off to acclimate to not working or if I should jump right into volunteering and looking for a part-time gig to keep me busy and around other people.” It seems to me Brian is asking the question, “Should I skip phase one? Should I skip phase two and jump right into phase three?” Again, he's got about a month before he retires.

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, most people look forward to a period of time where they just are kind of on vacation. And certainly, the vast majority of people that I have spoken to look forward to that phase one. It sounds like Brian might not be necessarily needing that phase and if he's ready to kind of move on more quickly, more power to him because I think the sooner he figures out what is the thing or things that give him the greatest amount of satisfaction and make him feel that he's making a contribution, the better. So, he sounds like he wants to jump into phase three. Great. It sounds to me also as though it won't be too long before he does find that thing or those things and lands in phase four. He sounds like he's well-prepared. He's thought about this more than a lot of people have.

Casey Weade: Yeah. Like many of our listeners, I think that's always that. I just want to go ahead and get started. I want to make sure that I make the best of this. I don't want to make any mistakes. If I get into too long a vacation, I may end up in this phase too. Yeah, it's great guidance to say, hey, as soon as you can jump into phase three, jump into phase three, and if you can combine it with your vacation, then hey.

Dr. Riley Moynes: Better still.

Casey Weade: If you can do that, more power to you. You know, we have a lot of parents listening. We have a lot of grandparents listening at the same time. And there was something you said in a previous podcast interview that I wanted to have you highlight here because I thought it could be of use to a lot of people who might be struggling with this. You said that you and your wife, Yvonne, aimed to give your two sons roots and wings. Can you explain that? What does that mean exactly, and how can others apply it?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Well, the roots part of it is that we want them to know that they certainly are loved, that we would support them in anything that they do. We wanted to give them a sense and that comes back to the life legacy, whether we wanted to give them a little bit of a sense of where they came from and more knowledge about their parents and grandparents. So, that combination sort of represents the roots for us. The wings is represented by the fact that we want to support them in virtually anything that they do or have done or will do that has already resulted in one of our grandchildren spending a year in Switzerland going to school. And I think of the incredible courage that this young man who at the time I think was 17, flying from British Columbia on our West Coast to Neuchatel in Switzerland, not knowing a soul, having no idea what was coming, but knew that he had the support of his family. And we encouraged him and he just sucked it up and showed, I think, tremendous courage in doing that. That to me is symbolic of the wings that we would love our children and grandchildren to have.

Casey Weade: And I don't want to misunderstand this but it sounds like you're almost encouraging them to go through this process of these four phases at this point in their life. They don't have to wait until retirement to enjoy a little bit of time off and most of all to do some trial and error. I think that's hard for some parents and grandparents. I'm pretty sure it's going to be hard for me if I see my kids taking a summer off to travel or they try this job and they try that job, they try another job, and you just need to pick something and stick with it. You'll find your passion later. What do you have to say to me and other people that might think along those lines?

Dr. Riley Moynes: Yeah. Well, I've never really kind of associated the roots and wings concept with the four phases. I just haven't made that connection in my own mind. We certainly want them to experience and to experiment and to try things where we're comfortable, we're satisfied, We're confident that they will land in the right place at the right time. But I think the kind of the whole atmosphere in which we tried to raise our two sons we hope will find application as they move through life and we'll certainly they're familiar with the four phases of retirement. They've lived with it for a while and at least with my working on it for a while and my experiencing it. So, it won't be a new concept for them when that time comes.

Casey Weade: It's almost that you've raised them in the nest. Now you have to be faithful, that you did a good job, and it's faith over control at the end of the day.

Dr. Riley Moynes: And confidence in them having been raised we hope and think the right way.

Casey Weade: Well, great. This is amazing, Riley. You know, if you're listening and you enjoy the content, you want to go through your own four phases and do some of the exercises and whatnot in the workbook that I have here on the screen, if you're watching on YouTube, I want to get this in your hands. So, we partnered up with Riley to give this book away to those of you that simply write us the rating and review over on iTunes. So, go on iTunes, write us a rating, give us a rating, write us a review, and then just shoot us a text, and then we'll send you a link to give us your iTunes username, verify, and send out your book for free. All you have to do is shoot us a text at 866-482-9559. Just text us the word ‘BOOK’ at that number and you can also get a link in the show notes, of course, or visit us at to dive in deeper and sign up there as well. Riley, it's been a true pleasure. You're providing massive value in the world and can't wait to see your continued impact.

Dr. Riley Moynes: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me with you.

Casey Weade: Thank you.

Dr. Riley Moynes: Bye for now.