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Achieve Retirement Success :: Retirement Success :: THE RETIREMENT SOURCE®
Achieve Retirement Success


Retirement success is illusive in today’s economy. Most of the public opinion polls show that the majority of people in pre-retirement are frightened that they will not be able to retire. Many of those who are already retired are scared that they will run out of money during their lifetime.

The message is clear – something has to change. Since it is unlikely that the government is going to increase Social Security benefits (cuts are more likely). Employers are unlikely to expand pension benefits (most are eliminating them entirely). That is why the new retirement model is being called “YOYO retirement”. That means You’re On Your Own.

You already know that this is not your grandfather’s retirement. Few people can expect to turn 65, get their gold watch and retire comfortably on their Social Security, pension and small savings.

If you want to have a successful retirement you must Take Charge! That means you will have to redefine “retirement” and redefine “success” in terms of your own personal circumstances. For many people the new retirement means working longer (if allowed), taking another job (if possible to find one), starting a business or downsizing their lifestyle. In some cases people do all of the above in what is called “serial retirement”.

One thing is abundantly clear for most people. They must be willing to begin adapting as soon as possible or risk failure. Failure in retirement is just not an acceptable option.


It would be folly to consider a concept such as the S-T-A-R-S System for Retirement SuccessSM without some discussion of what constitutes “success”. The problem with the word is that it is often measured by standards and set up on terms laid down by someone other than yourself. In many cases the idea of success is either some arbitrary target or some competitive activity such as having a million dollars or making more money than anybody on your block. These are not necessarily bad, but they tend to make success either something remote or simply a one-shot deal.

In order to begin to adapt to a realistic plan for retirement, it is necessary to redefine “success” in terms of what is important to you and accept some realistic way to gauge its achievement.

The definition we use in the S-T-A-R-S System for Retirement SuccessSM is one attributed to the philosopher Will James:

Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

We have been using this definition in all our planning work for many years because:

  • It puts you in charge.
  • It is non-competitive.
  • It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you adopt this definition and take as your “worthy ideal” the accomplishment of a comfortable retirement and the building and preserving quality of life now and into future generations, you can form a solid foundation for personal values-based planning.

Do you think you could win if you got to make the rules
and you got to keep score and you got to referee?

Let’s hope so! Under this definition, that is exactly what happens. Success then is not some arbitrary, pie-in-the-sky notion that depends upon what other people think. It can be a daily occurrence that depends totally upon you. All you have to do is make some small, baby step of progress toward your worthy ideal and you are being successful. Success is a great motivator because it feels good and it propels you to take another step, then another.


As the S-T-A-R-S System for Retirement SuccessSM graphic shows, all planning is focused on building and preserving your family’s quality of life. No doubt it is important to deal effectively with each planning point, but always with the understanding that all points are interrelated. None can be considered as standing alone.

The test of the effectiveness of all planning becomes the degree to which it enhances your control over all aspects of your family’s quality of life. That is, it shows progress towards achieving your personal worthy ideal. In other words, it succeeds. With this definition in mind, let’s consider each point of the S-T-A-R-S System for Retirement SuccessSM. You can develop a workable plan for retirement and legacy transfer by adjusting your sights as necessary and moving forward a step at a time and realizing that progress in itself is success.

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