Retire Happy and Fulfilled with the Drew Brees Mindset

The legendary quarterback's outlook on planning, preparation and execution can serve as a model to help retirees spend without anxiety and live a happier, more active and productive life.

When Drew Brees, star quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, broke the NFL record for career passing yards on Oct. 8, it was the culmination of decades of hard work, thorough planning and perseverance. Since high school, Brees worked to perfect his game. He continued to develop as a quarterback during 18 NFL seasons and refused to give up when sidelined by injuries.

Brees credits his record-breaking success to dedication and focus, not natural talent. Success in the NFL takes more than raw talent. It takes consistent and diligent work. After setting the record, Brees took a knee and told his children: "You can accomplish anything in life that you're willing to work for." He then told reporters, "Nothing is given — everything is earned."

Those who are working toward a golden retirement can benefit from thinking about their goals with the Drew Brees mindset. To achieve the retirement of your dreams, you need to consistently strive toward your goals before you leave the working world. When retirement comes, you must make the most of it with goal-directed activity.

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Retirement success is activity-directed

It's natural to think of retirement as a time to sit back and relax, but too little activity has actually been proven to make people unhappy. According to a MassMutual survey, of 905 retirees, 29% in excellent health and 51% in good health said they were not feeling fulfilled in retirement.

Though many retirees enjoy a slower-paced life, it's important to remain active. The happiest retirees have goals, events and experiences to look forward to. Retirement is a new phase of life with many possibilities, and making the most of your retirement is up to you.

It's not all about the money

Many people are surprised to learn that success in retirement isn't about the size of their 401(k). Though we all need to practice conscientious financial planning, a successful retirement is one where you have a strong sense of purpose and feel fulfilled. People who retire and lose their sense of purpose tend to be unhappy, regardless of how much money they’ve accumulated.

For many, money is the easy part of retirement. They saved diligently through their working years and built a solid nest egg. Now, they need to shift from the mindset of saving to planning their spending, although that transition can be challenging.

There is psychological stress many retirees feel when they deplete their savings. It's important to note that if you have saved for retirement and budgeted and planned correctly, spending in retirement shouldn’t bring anxiety.

Simple ways to enhance your retirement happiness

Having devoted so much of their lives to the workforce, many people feel a sense of loss after retiring. Though this feeling is natural, it should go away as you adjust to the retirement lifestyle and find new ways to occupy your time. If this persists, it can lead to a feeling of unhappiness and loss of purpose and productivity.

To prevent this, it's important to take control of your retirement and seek ways to make this phase of life rewarding. To make the transition more seamless, you should ease into retirement by reducing workload in the years prior to retirement. This allows you to gradually adjust to life beyond the working world.

Moreover, happy retirees get hooked on trying new things. Some take up new hobbies or even go back to school. Happy retirees focus on new activities, especially ones they didn't have time for while they were working. Try playing kickball, buy a ski pass, or take ukulele lessons. Hire a personal chef to cook at a dinner party or get in the habit of taking your grandkids to the movies once per week. Get creative with new activities and experiment along the way.

Volunteering can also be very rewarding. Rather than working for a paycheck, you can serve a cause you feel passionate about, and that can make retirement the most satisfying time of your life.

Retirement experts agree that when a sense of purpose is combined with close relationships with family members and friends, retirees truly enjoy their golden years.

A marathon, not a sprint

Like Drew Brees had to work for decades to set the passing record, retirees must continually work to make their retirements secure and fulfilling. This effort starts far in advance of retirement with proper preparation. To be financially ready for retirement, it is wise to work with a financial professional who can help manage investment risk, save on taxes and prepare an optimal estate plan.

With those items taken care of and your financial needs addressed, you are free to focus on pursuing the things in life that mean the most. A successful retirement should be designed to maximize health, wealth and quality of life. With a little hard work, thorough planning and perseverance, you can win the retirement lifestyle game.

Securities and advisory services are offered through USA Financial Securities Corp., Member FINRA/SIPC. A registered investment advisor located at 6020 E. Fulton St., Ada, MI 49301. Sterling Wealth Partners is not affiliated with USA Financial Securities. CA License #0G89727


Investment Adviser Representative of USA Financial Securities. Member FINRA/SIPC A Registered Investment Advisor. CA license # 0G89727


This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Scot Landborg
CEO - Senior Wealth Adviser, Sterling Wealth Partners

Scot Landborg has over 17 years of experience advising clients on retirement planning strategies. Scot is CEO and Senior Wealth Adviser for Sterling Wealth Partners. He is host of the retirement planning podcast Retire Eyes Wide Open. Scot is a regular contributor to and has been quoted in "U.S. News & World Report," Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq and Investopedia. He also formally hosted the nationally syndicated radio show "Smart Money Talk Radio."