A review of Mike Drak's latest book: "Retirement Heaven or Hell. Which Will You Choose"

Retiring Thoughts: Strategies to Create the Retirement of your Dreams

Mike Drak headshotMike Drak discovered first-hand that the only way to create the retirement he wanted was to…create the retirement he wanted. His latest book, Retirement Heaven or Hell, Which Will You Choose?, is the result of his research and lived experience. Consider it a primer of sorts for helping you decide how you want to live the next chapter. 

Once upon a time people turned 65, got the gold watch or maybe a card and/or party, and retired to their porch and grandchildren. End of story. 

Now retirement can be a bit more confusing. The age to retire is a moving target, as is the best way to spend your retirement. Thanks to the term Second Acts, retiring has the implication that you should be doing something useful or meaningful. It can mean that a once-simple step is suddenly complicated and fraught with confusion. 

Mike Drak was forced into retirement by being laid off. It could have been easy to slip into what he calls Retirement Hell, wasting days watching TV and feeling sorry for himself. And, indeed, he did do a bit of that. 

In his latest book, Drak divides retirement into nine principles that he says can help you create the retirement you want: nurture strong relationships, foster good health, achieve financial independence, reignite your sense of adventure, tap into your spirituality, find your tribes, make the most of your time, adopt the right attitude, and discover your purpose.

Of course, theory only takes anyone so far. It’s action that’s going to take an idea into something life-changing. To that end, Drak ends each chapter asking readers to give honest assessments of where they are with a particular principle. He also includes questions to help readers strategize about how best to fully incorporate a particular principle into their lives.

In the chapter on nurturing strong relationships, for instance, Drak asks readers to consider the answers to questions such as “Do you need more friends?” and “Are some of your relationships starting to slip away from you?” He also asks readers to rate current relationships with their partner, their children, and their friends on a scale of 1-10. What, he asks, can you start doing to shift any ratings that are not a 10? 

Since part of retirement includes crafting a new—or at least revised—identity post job/career, Drak includes lots of suggestions and strategies for what he calls “finding your purpose.” “Choosing to think of retirement as your Victory Lap is a second chance for you to find real joy, perhaps more than you ever had in your working life,” he writes. “This is your opportunity to feel like a kid again (remember, this is a beginning, not an ending)—to rediscover your passion and do what excites you.” 

Drak walks readers through exercises designed to help them (re)discover their purpose, starting back at childhood—”What are your some of your favorite childhood memories?”—and ending with working years—”Was your career a good fit?” He asks readers to reexamine their values and decide which ones really matter, and then use these insights combined with the 9 principles to help them pick what they’d like to be doing in their retirement. 

While all this journaling is helpful, Drak realizes that having a clear-cut plan is absolutely necessary to realize a dream. To that end, he concludes his book with specific suggestions for setting objectives and achievable, measurable goals toward your vision of retirement heaven. “You have the power to change the trajectory of your retirement,” he writes. “You can live a boring, safe retirement, or you can make a truly remarkable one. The choice is yours. So, what are you waiting for?”

Book Cover: Retirement Heaven or Hell by Mike Drak


Retirement Heaven or Hell, Which Will You Choose? 

By Mike Drak with Susan Williams and Rob Morrison, Milner & Associates, Inc.

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9 Principles for Creating the Retirement You Want

  1. Nurture strong relationships
  2. Foster good health
  3. Achieve financial independence
  4. Reignite your sense of adventure
  5. Tap into your spirituality
  6. Find your tribes
  7. Make the most of your time
  8. Adopt the right attitude
  9. Discover your purpose