Divorce is skyrocketing and a big part of that is the lack of communication before the big retirement day arrives. That’s just one of the many reasons why you need to plan your retirement ahead of time. Christin Collins presents Michelle Fritsch, the co-founder of Retirement Wellness Strategies. Michelle explains how you can find a sense of purpose that has nothing to do with your primary career and you’ll love it. If you take the time to develop strategies, your life can have a whole new direction. So it’s ideal to plan at least two years before you retire. Need more practical tips on how to plan your retirement? This episode’s for you. Enjoy!
You can claim your first month free here: https://www.propelyourwellness.com/Propelpresale. Use the code to get the first module free on the monthly plan.
You can reach Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a call at https://calendly.com/retirewellness/20-minute-free-inquiry-call
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Here’s Why You Need To Plan Your Retirement Ahead With Michelle Fritsch
It’s another day where I am incredibly honored to spend about 30 minutes with friend and colleague, Dr. Michelle Fritsch. Welcome. Thank you so much for taking some time.
Thank you for the invitation. It has been a whirlwind to know you.
It has been fun and I love how we came to connect and that was through our mutual excitement and curiosity about the purpose and how this affects life. I’d love to start with that foundation of purpose. What has purpose meant for you as you’ve stepped into your full and true essence and being?
It’s not something I expected. What I have found is I have focused on people around the time of retirement and tried to do preventive things. I like to think of it as I want to help people live their life and the decades of retirement full speed ahead. They come across the finish line, battered, bruised and dirty and they’re like, “That was a wild ride.” That’s what I want to see for people. Not the decline and spent years in bed or not doing what they want to. That’s my purpose.
In doing that, I have found people I’ve seen throughout my career, who seemed fine, retired and then plummeted. The purpose was one of those key things and their purpose or that what brought them great meaning in retirement might have nothing to do with what they did in their primary career. It’s been fascinating. When you and I had that opportunity to go into that training cohort, the timing was perfect because I had put those pieces together and it was the right thing at the right time.
There are so many questions I have for you. I want to add into this piece my experience with purpose. Back when I was in healthcare and was creating what came to be a wellness wheel of the different components of wellbeing. You and I are co-passionate about prevention. “Why are we waiting until people retire or get sick and unhealthy to then make them try to make them healthy again?” Silliest thing I’ve ever heard of.
The purpose was a thought that came up when Scott Cashman and I were coming up with this wellness wheel. I didn’t understand why that entered the space or what its purpose was. It’s fun to reflect on that because in hindsight, without purpose, what’s the point? To your point, if you’re finding your purpose at work only and then you retire, what’s left for you?
Remember, I live in Southwest Florida, there’s a lot of that going on. I appreciate your thread of purpose in life to be preventative to help you live optimal life of wellbeing. Talk to me about your past experiences before creating your new company and also about writing your book, which I know was very pivotal in your journey.
My background is as a professor. I’ve been in academia for 25 years, mostly teaching pharmacy students but along the way, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and lots of different health professionals. I’ve practiced and I’m board-certified in Geriatrics. I’ve been mostly in outpatient clinics that serve in lots of different ways. People that are over the age of 60. I’ve worked with big teams and then I’ve worked in things that are a little more pharmacy specific.
It’s been a wild ride. I’ve loved all of it but it was that realization, how many times I had seen someone, usually a man, who’s seemed fine to retirement and then their health plummeted. I’d get to know them and hear their stories. I started to see this incredible theme and a lack of anything trying to prevent it. I had to leave academia. Leave all that security to go tackle this and figure out how to help people transition to retirement and stay healthy.
I appreciate you jumping off the cliff, having been walking by your side, watching you fly, I am very grateful that you took that leap of faith. I do want to pause and dive into that philosophy of why you think. Why this is well-timed for me? Also, for a lot of folks that I find myself in community with. It can be us, not for nothing but my husband’s going to be retiring soon or it’s a loved one whether it’s a brother, sister, parent, it seems to be all around me. Therefore, I know it’s got to be all around the community as well. What are your thoughts about why health plummets when you hit that milestone?
Part of my perspective is that I come from a blue-collar background. I described the people that I grew up with, they work to live. Work is a thing. It fits within a certain timeframe and it’s to make money so that you can live life but life is what happens outside of work. As a professional and I fall into it as well, we start to live to work. Work is not confined to a particular timeframe. It is something that can interrupt our day at any time. For me, it is happening in here all the time. You wake up at 3:00 AM with ideas, there are to-do lists that never end.
You can find a sense of purpose that has nothing to do with your primary career and you’ll love it.
For many people, that is who they are. You are the founder and CEO of this or you are the manager who helped that company get over that particular hurdle or you’re the one that made this thing happen. If that’s who you are and that’s where you get your sense of fulfillment then retirement is dangerous because if you lose that, health tends to plummet with it. We don’t have enough days to talk about all the great stories of people, who’ve identified a sense of purpose in that next phase that appears to have nothing to do with their primary career and they’re loving it.
I’ve talked about this movie a couple of times. It was one that hit me at the perfect time and it’s called Soul. Did you see that movie?
My kids were watching it and I caught glimpses so I need to watch it.
You have to. That’s why I do love Disney. Raising my stepchildren, we’d go to sometimes a Disney movie and I’m the one laughing the loudest and the movie theater because of the storyline. Soul was the one that I was like, “My goodness.” I’ve seen it three times. I cried every time. It’s all about how many of us are looking at the destination.
Not living the journey.
The soul is paired with this other soul, who’s freaking out about the day-to-day experiences in wonder and curiosity, the ups and downs and very present. It was one of those that I’m like, “Disney, you nailed it here,” on how it’s not about the destination to retirement. Who knows? We have no guarantees. Thank you for shedding light on that vision. Soul is a movie I had to bring in for the fun lesson on that. For folks, who might be interested in reading your book, Preventive Maintenance for a High Mileage Life, share 1 or 2 takeaways that you provide in that book for living that high mileage life.
The beauty of it is it’s not rocket science but it’s pulling in all of those different aspects of a life of wellness. It’s physical health, mental health, emotional health, spiritual health social health and the understanding that certain things are going to happen in life. How do you get yourself prepared for those so that they’re not this shockwave that hits you? It’s broken down and easy to read to hit those important things. There’s a lot of emphasis on gratitude. Things that you can do to balance your life and not get blown with the ups and downs that come your way and that are linked to greater health.
It’s everything that I talk about every day. When we let go of all those things we’re not in control of because the vast majority of experiences all day are things that we don’t own, have no right to own or exhausting trying to own. How do we live that life of optimal well-being by being in gratitude, present, letting go, embracing and loving ourselves?
You and I were talking that you put together a video about how trauma affects wellbeing. That’s again, one of my passions and it’s in alignment with what we’re talking about. Your trauma might be in your control or not, it doesn’t matter but how trauma affects our physical health weigh in for a moment on that for me.
What got me talking about that topic was 2 or 3 weeks ago at the rival weekend for football when Michigan and Ohio State had their game, there were retired athletes from each of those schools who had been assaulted by the team doctor. Each of those schools had had a team doctor for years that assaulted those players and it had not been talked about.
These two very brave men, one a football player and one a wrestler led another group of people on the University of Michigan campus to have a rally to say, “We’ve got to talk about this. This does impact future health.” I’ve been blessed in my career. I’ve cared for many older women who were raised in an era where terrible things happened to them and they were told not to talk about it so that comes out. Those are chronic pain conditions. Those are deep depressions that come out later.
I’ve worked with a number of men, including executives and elite athletes who have had those stories in the past. They’ve got to be like Superman in order to overcome that and say, “That did not bring me down,” which also tells me that they didn’t have that chance to learn some strategies to say, “This is part of my story but I don’t have to be superhuman to deal with it. There are other ways that I can process this and it can be a part of my story that does not shape who I am.”
I worked in the VA system for a number of years. There are different kinds of traumas that people have dealt with. I’m not a psychologist but as a pharmacist, as a clinician, if they don’t have a chance to talk it through and develop some strategies to deal with it, it impacts them the rest of their life. The great news is even when they’re geriatric, in their 80s or whatever, if we do then take the time to work through it and develop strategies, it’s like this giant weight can be lifted and life can have a whole new direction. I love that.
There are 54 nuggets right there that I’m like, “Yes.” Your story doesn’t define you.
It does if you don’t have an opportunity to heal from it a bit.
Move at your own pace and have some ownership and control over how you progress.
Release it. Don’t let your story define you. Feel the emotions that came with it so that they can be released and you can do that healing work. This has been coming up a lot about, “You’re brave and you’re vulnerable to share your story.” Imagine a culture and community where we were all owning our journey and doing the work and sitting in the discomfort of the healing process.
We can all show up whole and well so that we can be the best us in the community and not project or not be fearful and all kinds of good things. There is not a person on this planet that’s existing now that doesn’t have some trauma from COVID. Everybody has been touched in some form. It is never been more vital to have ownership of the journey and allow yourself to heal and release.
It’s not like, “It’s over and now let’s heal.” It’s healing in the midst of an ongoing saga, which is even a little bit more complicated.
It’s like ripping off the scab. “Here we go again. Do I have to cancel my event again?” It’s acute trauma.
I agree with you that there’s not a human that hasn’t been impacted. I’ve got this crazy slide. It’s impacting blood pressure, our weight management, sleep patterns and our fuses. “Everybody’s got such a tiny fuse.” You think you’re fine and then you go off on something because you don’t even realize how on the edge you were. The constant news is I don’t know that our brains were ever intended to be able to process that much on a constant basis.
That is a perfect segue to bring us to the now. It’s been an honor and a privilege to witness you both as a friend and a colleague birth your company. I know you were the Co-Founder of PROPEL Comprehensive Wellness, which is an amazing opportunity to create a retirement wellness strategy so that you’re entering into that phase optimally. Please share some of the tools or ways that folks can benefit from this amazing company that you co-create.
It’s PROPEL Comprehensive Wellness. PROPEL is Powerful Retirement Options for a Purpose-filled Engaged Life. That’s what we want for everyone.
I remember when you were making that, I was like, “That’s so good.”
This is a monthly subscription and each month someone will get a module that over time it’s like puzzle pieces that will build out a big picture of your health in a way that you can share it with any doctor, anyplace, anytime but it dives into all those things we’ve talked about. It dives into your social health, spiritual health and emotional health because those are very important pieces. It also helps you plan for the future.
Anytime we talk about planning, it ideally starts before the event. An ideal time for someone to engage in this at least two years before they’re going to retire so that there are lots of things in place but then it can help guide you throughout those decades at this point, that people will live in retirement and it gives a lot of resources. Maybe something that you encounter isn’t perfectly pertinent, you’ll have it when the day comes that you do need it.
Retirement wellness strategies is what birthed out of me leaving academia and saying, “Something has to happen to this,” but that’s an elite program because you work one-on-one with me. I only have so much capacity for many people. I love that. Retirement wellness strategies is still there. PROPEL, I’m calling it a COVID blessing. A colleague and realized that we could use this almost downtime to create a version that way more people could access and do at their own pace. It’s a different module each month. It allows you to move at your own pace, have some ownership and control over how you progress through this planning process.
It sounds such a gift because if someone does want to work one-on-one and be more handhelds or one-on-one coaching session in essence and capacity, they have the finances, time, desire to do that then great, you’re available to do that. To your point, there’s only one of you and many hours in the week. The flip side, having a membership-based option makes it much more financially feasible. You can watch the module at 10:00 PM or 10:00 AM or on weekends. It makes it accessible to many more people.
At any point, if you’re like, “I did not understand module three,” you can schedule one-on-one with me and we work out whatever part you want more information on. It’s not like it excludes the ability for that but as much as you want to be a do-it-yourselfer, you’ve got lots of tools at your resources, at your fingertips.
How can folks look at this membership module and check into that?
That’s going to officially launch in January 2022 so we’re still a couple of weeks out. We’ve got a link called BeLove for your audience to be able to get their first month free. Come check it out. See what you think. We also know that nobody wants to sit in front of the computer forever. It’s all broken down into five-minute chunks. If you want to spend an hour, by all means, you can but if you want to sit down 5 or 10 minutes, give you something to think about, think about it and how you want to incorporate it into your life.
Each module has a workbook where you are asked some deeply personal questions and you can put your personal story and journey down along with your goals so that you’ve got it to look at any time. There’s a lot of different kinds of components in each module. Each one has bonus materials because we all like bonus materials. I’m hoping your wellness wheel is going to be in there. We’ll figure that out. Things that people can incorporate right away or later when it’s pertinent to them.
Thank you for that incredibly generous offer. That was very kind of you. I know there are many challenges to prepare for, walk me through, what do you find to be one of the most challenging things for folks as they are getting set to retire and maybe they’re not prepared for?
It comes back to that purpose thing. The most complex conversations I’ve had with people are so much of retirement planning has to do with that succession plan. “Who’s going to make sure that my business operates smoothly or my current job operates smoothly or my employees are well-cared for? These last three things I wanted to accomplish when I worked here that I get those done.” That takes so much time and energy.
Divorce is skyrocketing and a big part of that is the lack of communication before the big retirement day arrives.
People get to say they would have the big retirement party on Friday. On Monday, it’s crickets. There are several factors but two, in particular, that leap out that, I’ve seen very successful executives break down and get emotional over two different things. One is, “Who am I now?” If we can plan that ahead of time, that saves much potential, negativity and crisis.
The other one is, “I thought those were real relationships and those people don’t need me anymore.” We know that’s true. The busyness of the workplace keeps going. All those people lined up that need to have an early morning meeting with you or go to lunch with you or after work meet with you. All of those people that can’t seem to get through their day without having a piece of their time are still getting through their day. They’ve put all that emphasis on someone else.
If you’re not prepared for that, that impacts your psyche, that I invested all that time and energy in these people and they don’t need me anymore. It’s very difficult. What about the relationships that you are going to live with for the remainder of the years? If we haven’t thought about those and talk to those, I’ve seen many people have a mismatch between what the two of them are expecting and anticipating in retirement.
They’ve talked about it early but they haven’t talked about it recently. A big part of what I do is get them talking before retirement comes. It’s okay to have differences and different likes, dislikes and things that you want to do but the divorce rate is skyrocketing now and a big part of that is that lack of communication before that big retirement day arrives.
It reminded me of when I first met my husband and I was a flight attendant. I was not home maybe 3 to 4 nights a week. When I was home then I’d go away and we’d both have our space. When I decided to stop flying, it was like, “How is this going to be, me home every day?” It’s not about me when I’m home every day because he still has to do all the other things that he was doing when I was traveling. Also, the dynamics of being together all the time and multiply that by two decades if you’ve had kids and then you’ve raised these children and now when’s the last time you had a conversation about what you want your life to be like.
I’ve got one story. They did talk about it and they wanted to travel. They wanted in on the big trips. You can’t squeeze in the big trips when you’re working sometimes because you’re going to be gone for a few weeks. That’s what they wanted to do. She retired and he decided to hang on and work for a few more years. In the meantime, grandkids started coming. She wasn’t working. She became the babysitter for the grandkids 2 or 3 days a week.
When he retired, they were no longer free to be gone weeks at a time. That all evolved rather naturally without conversation. He was hurt that we’re no longer doing what I wanted to do. The compromise became long weekends and then plan ahead for big trips because they can still happen but the kids have to make alternate arrangements for the grandkids in order for those to happen.
These are all conversations and this all requires planning and safe space. Again, you can’t make this stuff up. I’m not going to retire anytime soon. My husband will retire in the next five years. We are actively discussing that’s going to be weird. When I’m like, “Bye, honey. Have a great day,” and he’s not. I love this conversation because it’s something that’s responsible to have not the day before it happens.
You remind me of another situation, a couple I’ve worked with where he retired and she loves what she does. She doesn’t want to stop yet but together they have a condo in a different state. The idea was that they would go to that condo for at least three months every year because it’s in a warmer climate than where their house is. Now, he’s going to the condo and she comes and visits a little bit and he doesn’t know what to do with himself. It’s not that fun get-away, like, “I’m finally at our dream place for a few months.” He’s twiddling his thumbs and wondering what to do with himself.
Nobody wants to be claustrophobic and backed into a corner because you’re retired and sitting around waiting for me and I’m still vibrant in what it is I want to do through my purpose work. I live in a condo in a warmer climate. I see it all the time. I hear the conversations at the pool. “My wife doesn’t want to come down because the grandbabies are up in Minnesota or Michigan.” It’s a real thing. I appreciate the transparency of this conversation and these conversations need to happen but also knowing who you are as an individual.
You might’ve lost a lot of that through work or a long-term relationship. “Who are you? What do you want that chapter to look like? What is the meaning for you?” You’re not putting pressure on the partner and it adds this beautiful space where both parties can be and thrive and not feel guilty because it’s not satiating or fulfilling the other person.
Part of this divorce we’re seeing now is people hit this point and realize that they’ve not been talking about it and they’re headed in different directions. Especially, if you don’t like conflicts, it feels easier to split and go your own direction than to work through it but it’s complicated. Isolation and loneliness are going to wreck your health as well. If we can get ahead of it and we can have those conversations, you can both do your own thing but not completely separate. There are so many answers that work well for people with a little planning and some compromise along the way.
This is such a juicy and beautiful conversation so thank you. Thanks for leaving your cushy comfortable existence to work on this full-time. I don’t know anyone who’s doing work like this. It’s incredible that you’re doing this and I’m excited and honored to be able to share this with others because not only for self but to also support other people’s journeys.
Thank you for asking for the opportunity because we do think this could benefit so many people but they have to know about it because it’s not one of those things that everybody’s got on their to-do list. “I need to think about and plan my health before I retire.”
I know we were brought together for a reason and this is one of them and it’s an honor to shed light on it. I look forward to folks being able to plug in. I’m going to go through the module with my husband. That would be a cool exercise for us to experience together. If folks do have additional questions for you or want to follow your work, how can people connect with you?
Michelle, it’s an honor and a pleasure. Thank you for our shared journey. You and I share resources, subcontractors and ideas. I was blessed to meet your brand company and have great conversations with your friends there. I appreciate our shared walk together.
Thank you, Kristen. Again, it’s meant to be that we had the opportunity to meet.
Until next time. Thank you for coming together. I hope you found this content as inspiring and interesting as I did. As always, I appreciate your subscriptions. I’m excited about the energy around this show and being able to showcase amazing thought leaders in their fields like my friend, Michelle.
- Dr. Michelle Fritsch
- Preventive Maintenance for a High Mileage Life
- PROPEL Comprehensive Wellness
About Dr. Michelle Fritsch
My passion is to help people cross the bridge into retirement with a solid plan for health and who they are going to be in that next phase (purpose). Everyone wins when you do that successfully. This survey will help you assess your current plan: https://go.retirewellness.com/survey
– Get a detailed view of your current health
– Make sure your healthcare team has all accurate information about you; help you prepare for doctor visits
– Identify and mitigate your health risks
– Explore your purpose so you are relevant and fulfilled and have great impact
– Assure your relationships are intact for the years ahead
After years in academia and geriatric healthcare, I had to do something to avoid these PREVENTABLE retirement crises. I designed a process that enables clients to design a strategic plan for retirement HEALTH. Avoid the four common pitfalls – https://go.retirewellness.com/avoidthefour
Your retirement health strategic plan.
– Avoid unnecessary costs and avoidable health decline surprises
– Minimize specific health risks
– Assure you’re on the right meds
– Avoid an early death (where your kids get all of your hard earned money!)