One Day Hero Journey in London: The New Retirement Story

Retirement at age 65 is an artificial finish line that no longer fits our time.

More than 10 years ago, Peter broke the rules of conversation about retirement with his groundbreaking The New Retirement Story. He changed the story about retirement from one focused solely on money to one focused on creating a life and work you love and never want to retire from.

This seminar will discuss the confluence of four modern trends that herald the end of retirement thinking as we know it:

  1. The evolving pursuit of fulfillment in our times.
  2. The end of the paternalistic employer.
  3. The advent of dismantling ageism.
  4. Distribution-driven Armageddon for financial services.

Growing old with lots of money is no longer the goal. Dying rich can’t compete with living rich, and making a living doesn’t measure up to making a life. When the idea of retirement was born, people traded physical capital for a paycheck—and it was a practical necessity for people to retire. As a knowledge-based economy, intellectual capital, experiential capital, and relational capital are traded for a paycheck, leaving only one question to answer regarding the appropriate time to retire: What is the expiration date on my intellectual capital and on my experience? What those people still working in their 70s and even 80s will tell you is that they would be dead if they had not continued to engage their intellectual faculties.

Participants will understand the characteristics of the new story:

  1. Passion: If you don’t use you your body or your brain in your creative life and work, you lose them.
  2. Purpose: Money can fund purpose, but it cannot create purpose.
  3. Portfolio: There needs to be a balance between vacation and vocation.
  4. Power:  A powerful story they tell themselves which gives them every day the energy to embark on physical, intellectual, and entrepreneurial adventures. Which are the hallmarks of those who continue to thrive as they age.

Peter will help seminar members find answers to the following questions:

  1. How will you spend your time? You have 168 hours a week; how will you make those hours meaningful?
  2. How will you invest yourself? How will you parlay what you know, what you’ve experienced, and who you are into the next phase of your life?

Practical Info

The price of this one day seminar is Euro 995 excluding VAT per person.  There are special prices when you want to attend with three or more people.

You can reach Peter for questions about dates and the program by mailing him at


09.40    Tea & Coffee on arrival

10.00     Morning Session

13.00     Lunch Break

14.00     Afternoon Session

17.00     Drinks

Read on for a detailed breakdown of The New Retirement Story

What Can I Expect?

Journey Outline


  • Times are Changing
  • Old Messages, New Realities
  • Illusions, Desillusions & Hype
  • The Artificial Finish Line
  • Retiring Old Stories about Retirement
  • The Fatal Flaw
  • Not My Parent’s Retirement
  • 65 is old
  • Retirement is Only about Money
  • To Retire = Not Working
  • A Life of Ease is the Ultimate Retirement Goal
  • Remove Artificial Finish Lines


  • Re-inventing Retirement – New Pathways
  • The Real Meaning of Work
  • Brain at Work
  • Testdrive Your Dreamjob
  • Invest in Who You Are
  • Collecting a Play Check
  • Bridging the Gap between Means and Meaning
  • The Seven Intangibles
  • Return on Life
  • Your Portfolio Life
  • The Money/Life Puzzle
  • Collecting Income for Life
  • Maslow meets Money (Safety Money, Freedom Money, Money to Give, Dream Money)
  • The Financial Freedom to Have a Creative Life


  • The Premise of your Story. The Purpose of your Life and Art
  • The words on your tombstone
  • Your ultimate mission, out loud
  • Your Story about Working Longer
  • Your Story about Living Longer
  • The Seven Great Plots
  • The Twelve Archetypal Heroines
  • The One Great Story
  • Purpose is Never Forgettable
  • Questioning the Premise
  • Lining up
  • Flawed Alignment, Tragic Ending
  • The Three Rules in Storytelling
  • Write Your New Story
  • Turning your story into action
  • The Story Effect
  • Story Ritualizing
  • The Storyteller and the art of story
  • The Power of Your Story
  • Storyboarding


  • Staying in the Zone
  • Trust the Force
  • The Power of Flow
  • From Success to Purpose
  • Meaningful Pursuits
  • Your Next 100.000 Miles
  • From Aging to S- Aging

About Peter de Kuster

Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Hero’s Journey & The Heroine’s Journey project. Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.


Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing,  MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.

Times are Changing! 

All you need to do is look around to see that times are changing. The vision of a retirement spent sipping martinis and playing golf can be more  of a dead end than a dream. For many of us, retirement may span 30 years or longer and will not be viewed as an isolated economic event but rather a part of ongoing life planning.


Passion Never Retires is the ability to achieve the freedom to pursue your own goals, at your own pace, on your own terms … regardless of your age.  It will help you paint a detailed portrait of your own perfect future and show you how to achieve it.

One seminar I asked a group of business people: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”The emotional uncoiling that took place in the conversation that followed convinced me of a fact of modern life I was growing increasingly aware of: Far too many people are unhappy with the work they do.

Their responses revealed to me that many people deep down feel they have compromised, to varying degrees, who they are for what they can get. Even some of those who had the things they wanted often felt they were lacking in terms of fulfillment.

Have we become a lost generation that is huffing and puffing down a fast track to nowhere? Do we look only to the money sign for direction and have we lost recognition of all other standards for living? These questions led me ponder both what work and retirement have become in our society.

Old Messages, New Realities

For many these stories and messages inspire urgency and thrift; for many others they inspire only fear, self – loathing, and hopelessness. Such messages as ‘You won’t have enough’ or ‘if you would have bought this fund 30 years ago it would be worth x million euros today’ create a sense of dread and failure in those listeners who were buying more ice creams and travels abroad with their disposable income 30 years ago.

Film producer and director Alfred Hitchcock. Hitch, as he is generally known, wearing a bowler hat and smoking a cigar as he stands in front of Big Ben and the River Thames in London, England on Oct. 12, 1971. Born in Leytonstone, near London, Hitchcock is back from Hollywood to film his first motion picture in Britain in 21 years, called Frenzy. Will he be wearing the bowler in Frenzy for his customary fleeting film appearance? The master of suspense puffed a cigar, Hollywood style, and bowled back a mysterious reply: We shall see, we shall see! (AP Photo/HO)

For the millions of professionals who don’t own a fat nest egg these messages stir feelings of hopelessness because they are convinced that they will arrive at the age 65 economic leap with no safety net or precious metals parachute based on their current income and level of savings. They know they will never be able to amass the small fortune that ‘retirement experts’ tell them they must hoard to have anything but a beggar’s sunset in their life. The modern retirement portrait, as painted by the financial services industry, is truly a doubleheaded dragon, because the vision that has been promoted for the last 50 years is not only an illusion but is also unrealistic.

The illusion has been that of sipping tropical drinks on a beach and setting tee times for the rest of your waking life.  “All this is yours” once you retire, and the earlier you retire the better. Possibly you’ve met some people who swalled this illusion and are living with the hangover of boredom and purposelessness in their life. I have met many such people and the look in their eyes inspired me to create Passion Never retires. Many who bought the story of retiring from the race find themselves bored with not being in the race. Many have found that this boredom has led them to self-destructive patterns of behavior. Many have accelerated their aging process as the chains of disenfranchised habits grew heavier and weighed on their health. It all adds up to one inescapable conclusion: retirement is an unnatural condition! Even if you can afford to retire, the worst thing you can do is withdraw completely from the race.

When you ask retirees how they’re doing, they often reply, ‘I’m keeping busy’. This is an acknowledgment of the activity void that retirement has brought. They are truly happy when they are busy doing what they love. If they are not busy, they are most likely not very happy.

The image of retirement that we have been sold has simply been untrue. According to recent surveys 40% of the retirees report that retirement was a difficult adjustment. The reason the adjustment to retirement is so difficult to so many is simple: retirement as it has been defined for us was never meant to be. Retirement is an illusion because those who can afford the illusion are disillusioned by it and those who cannot afford the illusion are haunted by it.

Which brings us to the dragon’s other head; many people cannot afford to retire in the manner that has been promoted by the retirement savings industry. It is simply unrealistic for many to find a way to put away enough money every month to have a million euros waiting to serve them at age 65 or at any other age for that matter. True, many people could save more as well as exercise more financial discipline. But why should the one-third of our population that is doing its best with what it has walk around feeling bad about today because it cannot reach a tomorrow that somebody else has defined for it?

Two problems are apparent with these pervasive and frequently reported scare tactics in the media. First, they can be easily disputed and disproven. Second these arguments are founded on a fabricated and now crumbling foundation – that is,  we should retire at age 65 or even earlier if possible. Most of us will not completely retire at 65 or any other age for that matter. We, as a generation, are not interested in artificial finish lines.

The Passion Never Retires Challenge  

Quest-ion:  Is the goal to be invested and well, or well and invested?

What is your story?  Should I review my own story about retirement?

Research it:  What am I saving? Where am I saving?

Decide and take action:

  • Talk to my spouse or significant other about retirement.
  • Collect and organize my financial information

Illusions, Delusions and Hype 

If you were to ask me, ‘Who are the most tragic people you see’? I think my answer would surprise you. They are not the couples in their 50s who are discouraged to find out they will not be able to retire when they thought. They are not the people whose portfolios had had less than spectacular returns and must extend their plans for early retirement. They are the retirees who are bored out of their minds. These individuals feel like they have been removed from the mainstream of life, are watching from the sidelines and are not allowed to get back in.

Yet strangely enough, millions are in a mad rush to get to the place where these despondent people live – on the sidelines. Many of us, however, have already seen enough of our parents and forerunners’ retirement scenario’s to know that this is not the life for us. We have figured out that our life will be one of challenge, relevance, stimulation and occupational adventure. We are not interested in finishing this race!

Once people get the money they need, they are able to better understand what the money is all about – liberty to do what they want when they want. What is the point of using that kind of liberty to do nothing but play golf? It’s hard to convince someone who doesn’t have the money that it really is not about the money. It is about doing what you love, doing what you want. It is about balancing work and relationships.

This point became especially clear to me recently when a friend asked me if I had plans to retire early. I thought about it for a moment and then it dawned on me, I like what I do! I write, I speak, I travel with inspiring professionals about how to create a life and work they love. Why would i quit doing that? If I did quit, I think I would begin to self-destruct. This realization was important because it helped me to realize that I had no longer be concerned with having any specific amount of money at any age. There will always be something for me to do and I will always enjoy doing it. You don’t make plans to retire from your passion in life.

Does this idea cause me to spend away my future and disregard the value of my investment savings? To the contrary!  Because I value freedom so much, I exercise the necessary discipline to maintain it. I know that I am just one foolish purchase or investment away from reattaching the chains of miserable employment to my life. There is wisdom in balance. Just because I love what I do does negate the need to plan for financial freedom. Life can present us wit vicissitudes that can radically alter our course: disability, a death in the family, divorce, and so on. We must plan ahead financially because we change our minds over time. What invigorates me today may bore me a decade from today. Investment savings are necessary to purchase the freedom to change course when we want.

Two types of people should forget their plans for complete retirement at 65 or earlier – those who can’t afford to retire at that age and those who can afford to retire at that age. Any age is an artificial finish line. A modern measure of success seems to be how many years you can retire ahead of age 65. Is accelerating your pace into boredom and despondency really such a good idea? On the other hand a modern measure of failure has been to measure how many years beyond 65 you had to wait so you could retire. The further past 65 you had to wait to retire, the greater failure you were in the context of retirement. Those measures are about to change. If the coming generation of 50+ year professionals has anything to say about it, those perceptions will be turned entirely on their head. Those who have to work will not be the losers, because they are still in the game and they will find that work keeps them vital, involved, and healthier. Those who will be able to drop out entirely will choose not to because they don’t want to enter a slow track of intellectual atrophy, boredom and monotonous leisure.

We are still in the early stages of a New Retirement Story – a modern story about what retirement really means. People are still haunted by the old rules and media hype that bemoan their lack of preparedness to reach the artificial goal line. You just can’t seem to get away from the news stories and the advertisements that beat this sorry old retirement horse to death.

The Artificial Finish Line 

Doing work we despise or being in circumstances we deplore depletes our spirit. The reason so many find themselves in such scenarios is because they have been sold on an idea about retirement that is flawed to the core: the idea that we should do what we do not enjoy to accumulate the money we need to someday do what we want.


This hope of doing what we want is why the concept of retirement is alluring to so many. Many individuals are not in the race they want to run in. They see getting to the retirement age with a mountain of money as the only way to get out that race. The problem is compounded when we realize that we have been convinced to run toward an artificial finish line in a race that was never meant to end. This artificial finish line is the retirement age, or whatever age you believe you should retire. The race is the employment of our skills and ideas as long as we still enjoy using them. If we truly love what we do, although we may slow down our pace or change the event we run in, we never truly quit the race.

And why have so many people given their life to work they don’t enjoy? The reason is simply because they need the money. Why do they need the money? So they can have enough to retire at a certain age and do what they want. Great! We sacrifice 40 prime productive years so we can have free reign for the autumn and/or winter years.

Although you may not have heard much about it, those who do get to the magic retirement age and drop out of the race are not altogether happy with their decision. They do it, however, because they felt as though they had to. Disillusionment rates are sky-high for retirees. According to one survey, 41 percent say retirement was the most difficult adjustment of their life and lack of intellectual stimulation that traditional retirement offers.

There is a good reason these retirees are not happy – retirement is an unnatural idea. The concept runs contrary to the preservation of the human spirit. Most people don’t want retirement as we know it. What they want is freedom to pursue their own goals and interests. They want to call their own shots. They want to do what they want, when they want, and where they want. They want change from the rut that their life of employment has become. We have been told that the right amount of money alone can buy that emancipation.

And that is why we are so vulnerable to the messages that tell us we need a certain amount of money to set ourselves free. But this simply is not true. This website is full of stories of people who are living the life they want – today – and not all have a lot of money. Because of twisted ideas about retirement, we have put the money cart ahead of the ‘life’ horse. We say we are saving money so that we can someday have a life, but in the process we are delaying having a life so that we can scrounge up enough money. Too many people wait far too long.

With some financial creativity and a new story regarding retirement you can both find and fund the life you really want – if not now, it is entirely possible within the next three to five years. Achieving emancipation from your working life will involve negotiating your lifestyle, philosophy and financial habits, and finding a way to put first things first. First, decide the heroine’s or hero’s journey you must take to do the work you love, and, second, put together a plan to pay for that privilege. We must adopt a much more resourceful approach if we hope to make the transition into a life of doing what we love.

Retiring Old Stories about Retirement

Face it, retirement is not a great idea, especially when you are 60+. In fact, retirement as we know it today is a relic from a time and a world that have long passed. In the context of our modern age conventional stories about retirement are not only inappropriate but they are counterproductive.


We are subjected daily to messages that pummel our brains with warnings that we should save more if we hope to leap off the economic cliff known as the retirement age. And many of us have been convinced that we want to jump off that cliff earlier – if possible, much earlier.

But do we really want to quit working? Sadly, because so many people are working in jobs, industries, and offices they hate, they have convinced themselves that the answer is the end of their working days (retirement). But the fact remains that they wouldn’t be obsessed with the idea of quitting if they were doing what they wanted with their life in the first place.

Many people think that the answer is to quit working altogether, because they don’t like the working circumstances they find themselves stuck in. This is akin to getting a frontal lobotomy simply because of a headache. Many others want to quit what they are doing now to be able to do something else; they need or want a change but are convinced that they need a mountain of money to make the switch. So they decide to postpone their dreams, assuming that when they finally acquire the required substance, they will have the drive and the desire necessary to follow their dreams.

People in these circumstances – and there are many – should stop to contemplate the psychologically sobering fact that as they drive themselves in a career they despise, they are running on tires with a slow leak. The ride often gets rougher and tougher until they find their aspirations in the ditch and little energy left to a new journey.

The same could be said for those who have a lukewarm approach to their work. Such a tepid approach results in a lack of growth, a lack of incentive and mental application, and compromised energy levels. When this lukewarm approach becomes our status quo, we are well on our way to a life and career of underachievement.

The Fatal Flaw

Traditional notions of retirement have evolved into something more. When people today talk of retiring, they are rarely speaking about retired living; they are usually speaking of emancipated living. They want to be free to pursue their goals, at their pace, and free to find a sense of balance in their lives.

Hundreds of personal interviews with professionals revealed two underlying problems:

1.  Many people are indulging in their every material whim with little or no regard for their future, because they see no point in waiting until they are old to enjoy themselves.

2. Many others are burning the proverbial candle at both ends in jobs or environments they hate in order to get enough money to someday cut the cord and do what they want.

Both of these scenarios lead to the fatal flaw in traditional retirement – that work and enjoyment are compartmentalized into separate stages of life. I found people who had solved the retirement riddle by doing something they enjoy, feeling no need to quit (only slow down) and wanting to balance their lives among family, career, labor and leisure. They discovered a New Retirement Story in which they had nothing to retire from. And, they found the life they once thought was reserved for retirement.

Not My Parents Retirement

The message financial services firms are sending is not resonating with the baby boom generation (and the next generation!).  The message basically is: ‘You are not saving enough; you spend too much; you’re too shortsighted. Shame on you’  The industry assumed that the problem was simply that this generation lives for the here and now. ALthough that may be somewhat true, it does not get at the core of the delayed investment toward retirement.

The problem is, if you can call it that, is that people don’t want their parent’s retirement. Over 80 percent of the baby boom generation want to continue work for different reasons and at varying paces throughout their lives. They’ve already witnessed what happens after working 40 years: a golf membership, a motor home and a retirement community – a virtual transplant to the fringes of society.

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