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Lessons Chris has learned about retirement from his parents

My wife surprised me with tickets to Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods tour in Charlotte last week. But the bigger surprise was finding out my parents were going to the concert with us – and they had tickets to sit in the pit. You know, right in front of the stage where all the cool kids sit.

My dad just turned 70.

They danced. They knew all the lyrics. And watching them made me feel so happy – not only happy to see my parents having a great time but seeing firsthand how happiness and retirement go together.

Also, it makes me happy to see that my dad’s got some solid dance moves.

When I was a kid, my dad used to take me deep sea fishing. On one trip, I woke up in the morning to discover we were entered in a contest on the boat for the biggest fish. I was groggy and seasick but put my line in the water and immediately reeled in the biggest fish of the contest. I won! Dad had paid the entry fee, but I got to keep the money…at least until we found out we didn’t have any other cash to tip the boat crew and buy dinner on the way home.

Dad would try to embarrass High School Me at school drop off by yelling out the window, “Hey, Chris – WANNA GO FISHIN’?” It always worked. But fast forward to today, and I’m passionate about flyfishing. Dad had never gone, so a few years ago I took him out for Father’s Day. I was catching fish left and right, but he wasn’t having any luck and was getting discouraged. Shortly before we wrapped up the day, Dad reeled in a record-breaking spotted brown trout.

The funny thing is that neither of us would call ourselves fishermen. But when we have the chance to spend time together, we always have a great time.

What would I call Dad? I have a host of adjectives for him: Genuine. Humorous. Loyal. Hard working. Mustachioed!

I would also call him determined. And humble.

Dad has been very successful in life. He has earned the right to brag in many areas, but he doesn’t. He remains extremely humble. It’s one of the things that I admire most about him. It’s a rare quality I don’t think you find very often anymore.

Both of my parents have shown me that retirement isn’t an end; retirement is a beginning. Retirement is about having fun, enjoying the time you have with loved ones and having new adventures. Retirement is about having new experiences, appreciating where you’ve been and looking forward to what’s to come.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s never too early or late to start thinking and planning for your retirement. What will make you happy in retirement? Start dreaming. Let’s start working to make those dreams come true.

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