Predisposed to Say “Yes”

By Alan Spector

Alan SpectorWhat does actor Rob Lowe have to do with having a successful retirement life?

Before answering that question, allow me to introduce myself to “Put Old on Hold” readers and thank Barbara Morris for giving me the opportunity to contribute. Here’s why the Rob Lowe question is important to me and why I want to share it with you.

With my friend and coauthor, Keith Lawrence, I’ve been studying, writing about, and speaking about retirement for almost two decades. We started out selfishly, wanting to learn about how we could have the retirement we felt we deserved.We initially interviewed hundreds of retirees—that number has grown into the thousands. We read all of the retirement books we could get our hands on. And we reviewed as much of the retirement-relevant research as we could find. What we learned was both helpful and, in many cases, surprising.

We got to a point where we had not only learned a lot for ourselves, but we were excited to conclude that we had discovered important concepts that could benefit others as well. We decided to write our book, Your Retirement Quest, and since then, have developed a number of ways (e.g. workshops, videos) to share our learning—how to plan for, practice, and partner with others to create and live a fulfilling retirement.

OK, back to Rob Lowe. I heard an interview with Lowe a couple of years ago. He was asked what he had done to keep his career active and successful over such a long period. His answer was simple, yet profound, “I’m predisposed to say ‘Yes.’”

He went on to explain how he was always on the lookout for opportunities, no matter how big or small and no matter how attractive they may seem at first glance. He was optimistic that if he leaned into the opportunities rather than shying away, he could make them into what he wanted them to be.

His answer made immediate sense in the context of our quest to live a full and fulfilling retirement life. We have found that many who enter retirement think about doing so solely in a life of leisure. Certainly there is nothing wrong with chilling out, but we’ve also learned that those who only do that limit the extent to which they can fully thrive in retirement.

Rather, we’ve observed that those who have a rich and diverse portfolio of activities in which they are engaged are the onces who flourish. Some of these opportunities will come to you; some you may need to pursue. In any case, consider these steps to take:

1. A great way to kickstart your opportunities portfolio is to look and listen for volunteer projects or programs that would be meaningful to you.

2. Create a Bucket List—brainstorm (and write down) those things both big and small that you would look forward to planning for, doing, and reminiscing about. As you do each item, check it off, and continually add items to your list. (Email me at, and I’ll send you a one-page explanation of how we’ve come to think about the value of and how to create a Bucket List)

a. Have you started writing that book you’ve always you wanted to write?
b. Have you visited every state park within a 50-mile radius?
c. Have you created a crossword puzzle for your seven-year-old granddaughter?
d. Have you baked a cake?

3. Ask friends and family and perhaps the occasional stranger what activities they are involved in to give you ideas about what to consider for yourself.

4. If you try something and it’s not what you hoped it would be, move on to something else. When you get into the swing of things, you’ll find that the biggest issue you have is to figure out which of youe many opportunities are the ones you want to focus on.

5. When you hear of an opportunity, like Rob Lowe, be predisposed to say, “Yes.”


Alan Spector is the coauthor, along with Keith Lawrence, of the book, Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement. Alan and Keith conduct workshops around the country, helping Baby Boomers plan for the nonfinancial aspects of retirement. Since retiring from a successful 33-year executive career with the Procter & Gamble Company, Alan has been a founding partner of three businesses, the author of five books, and deeply involved with social service organizations, community initiatives to reduce violence, and education programming. He is a management consultant, baseball player, nonprofit Board member, frequent traveler, speaker, blogger, and most importantly, the active and proud grandfather of four. Alan lives in St. Louis with his wife, Ann.

Alan’s fifth book, Body Not Recovered, has been named as a “Hot New Release” on Amazon. Learn more about Your Retirement Quest at, and learn more about Alan and his books at


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