TRANSFORMING RETIREMENT: BLUEPRINT FOR BUILDING A ROBUST LIFE
Finding passion and purpose with a self-guided game plan
By Elisabeth Boone, CPCU
Passion … purpose … service to others … personal fulfillment …
You might see those words on a recruitment poster for the Peace Corps, a scouting organization, or a youth rally.
You probably don’t associate those terms with the concept of life after retirement—but there you would be wrong. Retirees Mark and Jody Rollins are upending old ideas about retirement as static, boring, even depressing, and are bringing fresh insights and perspectives to what for many is a blank page on a calendar that’s usually filled with appointments, reminders, and to-do lists.
Mark built a highly successful career as a producer and executive with The Rollins Agency, the firm his great-grandfather founded in 1910. He and his brother Chuck sold the agency to Brown & Brown of New York, Inc., in 2013, and Mark continued to serve as president until he retired in 2018.
Jody joined Chubb in 1987 and held positions of increasing responsibility until she retired in 2018 as a senior vice president in the insurer’s White Plains and Albany offices. Over her 33-year career she managed profit and loss on a $1 billion-plus book of business across all coverage lines.
Well before they retired from their respective organizations, Mark and Jody embarked on what was to become a rich journey of self-discovery and inspiration. Financial security was a keystone of the process, but with that element in place the couple were free to explore the spectrum of opportunities that were open to them and their future clients.
“Three years after we sold the agency to Brown & Brown, my father passed away,” Mark says. “My dad had the traditional retirement that most of us have dreamed about, where you work hard for 40 years and then sit back, take it easy, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Unfortunately he didn’t have a plan and lost his way, and in my opinion he died a lot sooner than he needed to.
“That rattled us, and we agreed that we didn’t want a traditional retirement; we wanted something different,” Mark continues. “We Googled and did research, and all we found about retirement planning was related to financial planning. Everything was about money.”
Adds Jody: “We couldn’t find anything about physical and mental health and wellness, relationships, or the other dimensions of retirement for busy professionals with significant careers. For me, after a 33-year corporate career, I had a desire to work with Mark to build a structure to serve others as part of our plan for the next 30-plus years.”
Thanks to advances in medicine and technology, Americans are living longer and are more active than previous generations were.
“I’m 63, and I plan to live to 100,” Mark comments. “That’s 37 more years—and that’s a long time to live without a plan.”
Questions in search of answers
When Mark started to think seriously about retiring, he embraced the possibilities with excitement, enthusiasm—and no small measure of trepidation. Happy, healthy, confident, and successful, he was accustomed to answering clients’ often-tough questions about the risks that confronted them.
Now, confronted with tough questions only he could answer, Mark realized that before he could embark on the adventure called retirement, he would need to dig deep inside himself to find those answers.
He identified five key questions:
- Who am I without my career?
- What do I do with all this extra free time?
- Am I still relevant to society?
- What makes me happy beyond my professional successes?
- Where do I start?
Each of these questions, Mark explains, goes to the heart of the classic dilemma faced by prospective retirees who want to remain active and engaged after retirement but don’t know how.
Late last year, Mark and Jody announced the launch of Your Retirement Game Plan, an 11-week self-guided course that allows users to explore every aspect of post-retirement life and create a plan that maximizes personal fulfillment.
Through a series of exercises, users evaluate where they are today and where they’d like to be tomorrow. Part One of the course consists of five introductory modules:
- Module 1: Your Career Highlights
- Take an inventory of your professional and volunteer experiences
- Reflect on the highs and lows
- Take stock of the wisdom and knowledge you’ve gained
- Module 2: Reflecting on Relationships
- Take stock of the quality of your current relationships
- Identify the people you want to invest in
- Build an understanding of opportunities for stronger alignment with your spouse/partner
- Module 3: Your Strengths and Core Values
- Define and rank your strengths and values
- Assess how much your life today is aligned with those strengths and values
- Module 4: Health and Wellness
- Check the status of your key health provider visits
- Reflect on behaviors that are helping and/or hindering your health and wellness
- Module 5: Visualizing Your Retirement Transformed
- Create a vision for your health and wellness
- Create a vision for your relationships
- Create a vision for how you will share your wisdom
Part Two of the course consists of six modules in which users learn to create a comprehensive retirement game plan:
- Module 1: Your Physical Health and Wellness Plan
- Build a habit plan for physical activity
- Build a habit plan for improved nutrition
- Module 2: Your Mental Health and Wellness Plan
- Build a habit plan for emotional and/or spiritual well-being
- Build a habit plan for intellectual well-being
- Module 3: Your Relationship Plan
- Build a habit plan for investing in key relationships
- Build a habit plan for building new and exciting relationships
- Module 4: Your Spouse/Partner Relationship Plan
- Create clarity on priority areas for relationship growth and alignment
- Build a habit plan for strengthening your alignment
- Module 5: Your Wisdom-Sharing Plan
- Understand the wisdom you have to offer the world
- Explore ways in which you can share your wisdom with others
- Outline steps to fine tune your wisdom-sharing plan
- Module 6: Your Retirement Routine
- Learn how to design your days, weeks, and months for success
- Build a routine that enables you to live your vision for a retirement transformed
Juggling glass balls
“As a corporate executive and working mom, I was juggling a lot of balls, and many of them were glass,” Jody says with a laugh. “You can’t let any of them hit the ground. You become really astute at being present and mindful in every situation, and for a fleeting moment I thought: ‘Won’t it be great to do nothing?’”The truth is, she observes, “doing nothing is really hard, especially when you have spent 30-plus years adding value, being engaged, being a thought leader, leading teams, driving results. Doing nothing then becomes somewhat of a challenge.
“I made a valiant effort,” Jody continues, “and about a week later I enrolled in postgraduate coursework in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. I started to mentor colleagues and team members I used to work with. I found myself trying to create opportunities to engage, because that’s where I got my juice.
“We decided that we wanted to take this mindset of traditional retirement and flip it on its end,” Jody says. “In the U.S., ten thousand people a day are reaching retirement age. That’s a huge number of people who are entering this uncharted territory.”
Adds Mark: “It’s also a huge number of people with wisdom that should be valued, honored, and shared. Part Two, Module Five of Your Retirement Game Plan addresses this issue in depth. What is your unique story? How can it benefit others?”
Jody agrees. “I think it’s incumbent on our generation to model a vision of retirement for the next generation, the Millennials. We need to show them what a rich and fulfilling experience retirement can be when we engage in life at every level—when we think big, dream big, and create a big vision of our lives as boldly imagined and robustly lived.”
In addition to the online courses described above, Mark and Jody offer one-on-one coaching, webinars and workshops, and membership in a private online community.
“We didn’t set out to start a company or compete with anyone,” Jody remarks. “When our research showed a void in resources for ambitious professionals who wanted to do more than play golf three times a week, we jumped in. Looking back—and looking ahead—I’m glad we did.”
For more information: