A few years ago, Greg Parady changed the logo of Parady Financial Group based on a powerful experience he had hiking with his brother, Luke, a world-class rock climber, to the 14,000-foot summit of Longs Peak in Colorado.
Greg Parady found out something very important as he gazed at the awe-inspiring views from Longs Peak, Colorado. He learned that reaching the top was only half the mission – it would take different physical and cerebral training to get back down the mountain. As his legs and lungs burned, Greg realized that his mountain climbing endeavor, with his brother, was an incredible metaphor for the retirement journey.
Success isn’t just measured by reaching the summit of the retirement mountain, but by understanding the risks and conditioning involved in making your way down. The same strategies that got you to the top are not necessarily the same strategies to help you as you move forward. The risks are different, and mistakes can be more severe.
Parady Financial Group has built a unique retirement planning model around helping retirees, and those approaching retirement, by addressing the risks associated with preserving a lifetime of savings, and the best distribution strategies for navigating your way through the descending journey. Since retirees are not working anymore, mistakes and risks can have a bigger impact on their future. As Greg says, “Trip at the bottom of the mountain and you may only fall a short distance. You can get up, brush yourself off, and continue climbing. But when you stumble at the top, the fall can have greater consequences.”
Retirement planning can present a mountain of challenges. So Parady takes the time to truly get to know their clients and their financial objectives. Then they work, as a team, to create a customized retirement strategy that meets their clients’ specific needs. Their highly personal approach focuses on education and family values.
Greg Parady believes that his clients shouldn’t have to climb mountains anymore. It’s time for them to enjoy the view as they come down – comfortably and safely – living their lives on their own terms.
To find out more about Parady Financial Group, call 1-800-RETIRED. Or visit paradyfinancial.com where you can see Greg tell his story about the retirement journey.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON ANNUITIES AND LIFE INSURANCE
Please enjoy this special release of the Introduction to Greg Parady’s new book, Not Your Parents’ Retirement: How Annuities & Life Insurance Can Help You Live Your Life, Your Way
Retirement is a lot like climbing a mountain. I know this may not be the first comparison that pops into your mind. But then again, helping people retire with greater financial confidence is my business, so if anyone is going to make that comparison, I guess it should probably be me. However, it’s also an analogy that makes a lot of sense, especially since my experience climbing to the summit of Longs Peak in Colorado with my little brother, Luke.
My brother has been a world-class rock climber since he was a teenager. Me…well, I’d at least seen a rock. I prided myself on staying in good shape, but I still knew that if I was going to keep up with Luke on a seven-and–a-half mile trek to the summit of a 14,000-foot mountaintop, I was going to need a little bit of preparation.
Preparation is important to retirement – if you picked up on that, great job. However, we’re not even close to the important part of the story. That comes later. Once I committed to the climb, I got serious about preparation. I refused to be shown up by my younger sibling. So I spent six intense months training for the hike. I ate all the right foods, jogged several miles a day, and hit the gym to train on the treadmill as often as possible.
The treadmill was the most crucial aspect of my regimen. Why? I live in Florida, a state that is notoriously beautiful, but also notoriously flat. The only way I could get ready for the steep incline that Longs Peak, no doubt, had in store for me was to simulate it on a machine. So I did. I worked my way up, higher and higher through all the machine settings, until I maxed out the treadmill at a 45-degree angle. I thought that should prepare me to climb a mountain!
It was my daily routine for months.
Next, since I live at sea level, I knew I would need to acclimate my body to the thin air and high altitude of the Rocky Mountains. So I arrived in Colorado a full month before we were scheduled to climb to get my body used to functioning at a higher altitude. I fully enjoyed the experience, learning how to fly fish in the rivers and streams of Estes Park, while my body gradually adjusted.
When the day of the climb arrived, I certainly felt ready. Luke had planned our departure for midnight, which seemed a little crazy, but he was the expert. So we set out in the dark of night, loaded down with headlamps, backpacks stuffed with water and hydration gels, multiple layers of clothing and rain gear. You name it, we brought it.
At first, all those months of training seemed to serve me well. However, I still wasn’t prepared for the way the altitude affected me. We had to stop so often to drink water and just catch our breath that we averaged less than one mile per hour. Having always taken pride in my health and athleticism, I found this a little humbling.
But at 5:30 a.m. I got my (first) reward. After five and a half hours of walking, stumbling and resting in the dark, I witnessed the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. The sun actually rose below us! It was one of the most amazing and breathtaking experiences of my life. Four and a half hours later, after nine hours of climbing, I had an even more amazing experience. We reached the summit.
Words cannot describe how beautiful it was, standing on top of the world under a cloudless sky. Even more indescribable was the tremendous feeling of personal achievement that flooded me from my head to my toes. I could have stayed there for hours, basking in the beauty and the joy of what was definitely the greatest physical accomplishment of my life.
And I wasn’t alone in my exultation. At least 100 other hikers were up there with us, each reveling in their own success upon reaching the summit. And some of them were really making a day of it. They were sitting on rocks chatting, taking pictures – some were even eating lunch.
My brother and I? Not so much. Almost the minute we reached the summit, Luke was already talking about our descent. My self-congratulatory basking and photo-snapping lasted just 12 minutes. We climbed for nine hours and all I got was 12 lousy minutes?
Now, truth be told, since Luke is my little brother, I don’t always listen to him. But he was absolutely adamant that we begin our descent immediately. And just in case I was thinking about putting up a fight, he actually started climbing down before I had a moment to question his decision. He took off at breakneck speed, which indicated to me that, whatever the reason, he was basically on a mission to get back down. Maybe he left his wallet back at the bottom?
There wasn’t much I could do except take off after him and try to keep up. And that’s when it hit me. In all those months of training and preparation, I never once put the treadmill on a DECLINE setting.
Day after day, week after week, month after month, I concentrated solely on climbing UP the mountain. It was all about getting to the top. In my excitement and inexperience, I forgot an important rule of physics: what goes up, must come down. And now, what was coming down…was me!
It never crossed my mind that I might need to train different muscles to navigate the descent part of our adventure. If I had, I would have learned that, believe it or not, climbing down a steep mountain can be even more challenging than climbing up.
My body let me know pretty quickly. I wound up trailing behind Luke, first by five minutes, then ten minutes, for what seemed like forever. Luckily, at around 12,000 feet, Luke finally stopped for a drink and an energy bar, giving me the time I needed to catch up. I stood there, sucking air as hard as I could, until I was finally able to form the words to say something amounting to: “Why did you take off so fast???” In response, he told me a story I will never forget. And, yes, it’s this part of the story that really, really relates to retirement.
Luke’s Story “I was on this mountain two years ago and was caught in a sudden lightning and hail storm. I wasn’t on this trail though. I was totally exposed on the mountain face climbing with some friends.
(My brother is a rock climber, not a hiker. He does the crazy stuff.)
“The lightning came out of nowhere around noon and was cracking and thundering all around us. I thought it was all over. As with most climbs, I set a goal to reach the peak and that day was no different. I didn’t know then that the peak of this summit is like a magnet for electricity, so when it warms up around noon there is often a thunderstorm that is attracted to the same spot almost daily.
(Sure enough, as he spoke, I saw huge black clouds enveloping the summit we had enjoyed just minutes earlier. No wonder he was in such a hurry to get down the mountain!)
“The success of this trip, or any trip, isn’t measured by reaching the top; success is measured by how well you navigate the challenges facing you once you’ve reached the top. The people that are up there right now are in danger, and they’re making decisions under extreme stress. They’re tired and weak from the climb, and they’re all panicking to get down from there. And it’s never a good idea to make big decisions under extreme duress.
“It is completing the trip that tells whether you’ve achieved your goal. You must be prepared for the downhill before you begin the uphill climb. And you must be prepared for it prior to the ascent. We began this trip at midnight so that we could reach the top early enough to get out of harm’s way prior to the storms.”
Your exit strategy determines your achievement
Who could have known that the single biggest reason that our trip was successful was the starting time? Only someone who had been there before would know the risks and plan appropriately to mitigate them. I hoped all those people we left behind with their cameras and their sandwiches were okay.
I learned a lot about my brother that day. I learned a lot about myself too. But the greatest lesson I took away from Longs Peak was about life – and, yes, about how the way most of us live our lives pertains to my career and my passion working with retirement strategies.
Because when it comes to retirement, most people are a lot like I was. I thought I did everything I needed to do to prepare to climb Longs Peak. Just like those soon-to-be retirees who plan, sacrifice, save, invest and utilize whatever resources they can to help them get to the top of the retirement mountain. That’s their goal, just like reaching the top of Longs Peak was my goal. They have no idea that, in reality, this is really only half of the planning.
They don’t always know about which storms could arise, or about the potential dangers or obstacles they could face once they have reached the top of that peak. Once they are actually “in retirement,” that doesn’t mean the journey is over.
In reality, reaching the top of Retirement Mountain is only the first half of the journey. Once they make it to the summit, retirees may be just like the people eating sandwiches on top of Longs Peak. They need an exit strategy, or a plan for how they’re going to navigate down the mountain, so they can be prepared for possible challenges and better enjoy the benefits of their hard work. That’s what this book is all about.
Call 1-800-RETIRED to reserve a seat for Parady’s next Learning Lounge Session. Or visit paradyfinancial.com for more information on their comprehensive retirement services.