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Book Review: Psychology of Executive Retirement from Fear to Passion

By Sara Bedal |

At first glance, small business owners with retirement on the horizon might question the relevance of this self-help book. A good chunk of it addresses just how psychologically ill-prepared executives are for the leap from the corporate ladder. But the book also raises enough thought-provoking questions to help guide anyone contemplating retirement, regardless of where they work.

Title: Psychology of Executive Retirement from Fear to Passion: Escape the Rat Race & Save Your Life
Author: Doug Treen
ISBN: 0595492827

Early on, Treen examines the fear of change over-achievers face in retirement, as well as their loss of role, power, structure, business culture and identity. Sometimes the result is "retirement shock" and he devotes an entire chapter to the psychological vacuum retired workaholics may experience, which can trigger depression, illness and even premature death.

For readers with visions of golf courses and cruise ships dancing in their heads, Treen cautions: "The idea that leisure is the purpose and meaning of retirement is a false promise and a dead end." Rather, he argues that individuals must push beyond the collective notions of retirement and creatively discover their "authentic selves" in which their values, aptitudes and passions are in sync. Only then will they reap emotional rewards on a par with the power of corporate life. This book culminates in "The Meaning of Life" chapter and the final chapter, which walks readers through the steps of creating a Transformational Life Plan by considering the "being, having and doing" life modes.

Clearly, it's all very heady stuff that is not a breezy afternoon's read. Treen certainly knows what he's talking about (he was a corporate executive for 20 years and studied psychology, social science and philosophy for his PhD), but at times his writing comes across as dense and didactic. For readers truly committed to taking an introspective journey into the world of retirement and refashioning their lives, that can be overlooked.

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