Dorene’s Story

Going Beyond “Just Fine”

Here’s the story of why I wanted to retire from doing comprehensive financial planning and focus on the questions some of us are fortunate enough to be able to ask ourselves once we have enough money.

I had been working with Dorene and Tom for 14 years – they had a modest, financially-secure retirement that began when they were in their mid- fifties. They always seemed content: travel, hobbies, close friends and family activities. Whenever I asked how retirement life was going, her answer was always “Just fine.” But something nagged at me – from my perspective, there never appeared to be any “juice” in her life – something that she was truly excited about. 

When Dorene was in her early sixties she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died within two years. Literally the saddest time in my life as a planner was sitting with Tom, at a meeting Dorene was too ill to attend. He had tears in his eyes when he told me about her revelation that there were so many things she had wanted to do and now would not be able to. He was clearly stunned as he said, “This is the first I’ve heard about any of these things.” They had had time, they had had money, and they had had health. When I reviewed my notes from all of our meetings, I realized that they had never completed my Goals and Accomplishments handout – everything was always “just fine”. I will always wonder if, had I been more skilled at asking, she might have spoken up about some of her dreams, and if I might have helped her figure out a way to try some of them on for size.

Beyond Enough is dedicated to Dorene, and the belief that I can help others
create a life that, as they define it, is more than “Just fine”.
And as I help others, my life too, moves beyond “Just fine”.

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Beyond Enough • Retirement Life Planning • Nancy C. Nelson, CFP®
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