Suddenly Retired Book Review by Midwest Book Reviews…Diane Donovan

Suddenly Retired
Donald J. Hurzeler
Kua Bay Publishing, LLC.
Hardcover: $24.99/Paperback: $16.99/ebook: $7.99

Suddenly Retired: A Roadmap for What Comes Next reflects author Donald J. Hurzeler’s experiences with COVID and career trajectory derailment. It also mirrors the realizations and conundrums faced virtually overnight by everyone around the world, many of whom found carefully laid plans changed in ways they’d never anticipated.

It’s a rebuttal to the many, many retirement books on the market that assume a pragmatic approach when, in times of disaster, there is no such opportunity, and it provides solutions and observations perhaps unique to this era.

There are thus many surprises in Suddenly Retired; especially for readers who have already absorbed a plethora of retirement guides that advocate a singular strategy based on a stable environment that allows for much advance planning.

One surprise is that retirement has upsides and downsides which shift with age and milieu. Another is that there is no singular definition of ‘retirement’. What works for one person as a definition may be entirely wrong for another.

Donald J. Hurzeler promotes a flexibility in approach which highlights the real difference between his book and others on the subject. This lies in the title itself. ‘Suddenly’ portends the unexpected. And no matter how organized a planner for the future may be, sudden retirement brings with it a special set of challenges that relies on the ability to make sudden and quick adjustments.

Chapters consider workarounds to the suddenness of the specter of retirement and the process of disassociating from past patterns, whether in career or expectations from life in general.

Hurzeler adopts a chatty, accessible tone that belays a foundation filled with facts and solid advice. This makes for an easy read that will prove interesting as well as eye-opening: “Honestly, very few of us get the gold watch, the big party, and the “little something extra” to send us on our way to a wonderful retirement after a long and universally agreed-upon successful career. Most of us get an inadequate briefing by Human Resources on what to expect, a booklet on the process, and a mass of confusion about how things like healthcare plans work going forward. A whole lot of important decisions that can make or break us financially in the future are thrown at us all at the same time. We get a layer cake and cup of coffee in a side room with a bunch of people attending because most people like those things. And we get a quiet send-out through the back door after handing in our credit card, cell phone, company ID, and parking sticker.”

Acknowledging these changes and remaining open and flexible to them can be as simple as accepting that lava landscaping in Hawaii is far simpler than terraforming a new environment to preset expectations.

Ultimately, this is the core message in Suddenly Retired: preset expectations without that ability to adjust, learn, and re-envision are hard to find satisfying.

Filled with Hurzeler’s own experiences making both good and bad retirement decisions, Suddenly Retired advocates a kind of structure that is always willing to bend with changing conditions.

This is why it’s a standout in the literature, and deserves a place in any library and in personal collections where retirement planning is of interest. It offers a different form of adventure and encouragement than most—one that stems not just from pragmatic financial planning, but accepting the volatile and changing nature of later years: “One of our best retirement decisions was to frontload our retirement with the more adventurous things we wanted to do in life.”

Climb that mountain. Read this engaging, enlightening guide to get there.