Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions

1. Q: Isn’t the fourth quarter of our life pretty well set by the decisions we make and our lot in life from the previous three quarters?

A: The four major areas of determining fourth success, our How Much?, our Why?, our Who? and our Where?, are spinning in a certain direction for everyone when they reach the fourth quarter of life. The good news is each one can be affected by better decision making going forward. Fourth Quarter success stories usually involve people who learn to be better at the How? of each of these areas.

Your How Much? - If you’ve come into the fourth quarter of life without enough assets to retire comfortably, choices usually include working longer at the same or a different job or scaling back or adjusting some of our spending choices. Part-time jobs have never been easier to find in the “gig” economy. Via books and the internet, ideas abound on how to be thriftier and still enjoy life. One of Many Resources: The money sections of Fourth Quarter Fumbles, or thrifty living websites and articles like Retirement: Do These 4 Things If You Haven't Saved Enough | Money

Your Why? – Having a hard time figuring out what to do to stay engaged and happy in the fourth quarter? Giving back to others is the #1 happiness factor in the fourth quarter. You have skills that someone else will find impressive, even if it’s reading to underprivileged children in a school program. One of Many Resources: The “Getting Out of Bed” chapter of Fourth Quarter Fumbles or check out volunteer opportunity and inspiration websites

Your Who? – Who you hang around in the fourth quarter matters! If all your friends and life partner are negative all the time and view the world as the Roman empire in decline, you will have a hard time rising above this scarcity mentality and having a good fourth quarter. Finding even one new acquaintance or friend who has a can-do attitude can be the difference between an average and a good fourth quarter of life. One of Many Resources: Read the Who? sections of Fourth Quarter Fumbles, or read, or watch a YouTube video, of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Your Where? – Where you’re going to live in the fourth quarter matters too. Do you need to stay in your current home? Is there a better place to live in your current town or somewhere else? Should you consider one of the many new over 55 retirement communities growing around the country? Should you eventually consider a Life Care community? One of Many Resources: Read the Where? sections of Fourth Quarter Fumbles or look at the many stories on the internet under the heading “where to live in retirement”.

2. Q: It seems like my parents had so many fumbles in the fourth quarter of their life. Aren’t some fumbles unavoidable?

A: Yes, some fumbles are unavoidable, and fate is unpredictable. Some people have bad luck in the fourth quarter and have to cope with seemingly overwhelming events. How they respond to these events is what separates the good fourth quarters from the bad ones.

In my research, I ran into hundreds of stories of people who faced seemingly insurmountable storms – my interviews with many of them inspired me that fourth quarter challenges can be successfully navigated with the right How approach. By advance preparation, force of will and surrounding themselves with good people helping them make good decisions, they met their challenges and achieved contentment, and some even found true happiness despite bad circumstances.

3. Q: What age does the fourth quarter of life begin?

A: The answer seems to be part art and part science for the many people that I’ve worked with and interviewed for the book. One said the fourth quarter started at age 74. Since she is now approaching 80, she still considers herself early in the fourth quarter and continues to engage with the world and her family and friends, keeping her Why? and Who? strong at an age where many peers are getting chronic illness or dying.

One of my book reviewers is age 62 and believes his fourth quarter just started. He thinks age 80 is his target for lifespan and any time beyond that is “overtime.” He has made a number of changes in his life to “get on with the next chapter” and find ways to stay interesting and interested in his life partner and the world.

Perhaps someday in the near future, as lifespans increase for those in the first, second and third quarter of life due to medical technology, the fourth quarter will start much later. Or be extended for those already in the fourth quarter. Even more motivation to figure out your own “one size fits one” fourth quarter game plan!

4. Q: What one thing should I focus on to make my fourth quarter better?

A: Tough question! Each of the How Much?, Why?, Who? and Where?, and then How? Fourth Quarter focus areas are critical to happiness. Since our greatest asset is health, focusing on the absence of illness, and ideally beyond that to true wellness, is a worthy #1 goal.

The caveat is if you’re not doing well with your life partner or friends or family due to poor communication skills or a low EQ (emotional intelligence), you may be the picture of wellness physically but a wreck when it comes to mental health!

One size fits one – figuring out what your key focus areas should be is personal and a critical part of mapping out activities and things to do, and avoid, in the fourth quarter of life. Try taking the Fumbleocity™ assessment in this website and identify the areas of strength and those you need to work on.

5. Q: I’m an avid golf and tennis player. My husband and I also enjoy hiking. I’m concerned that I may not be able to do these things later in life.

A: You’re wise to be concerned – losing things we all enjoy doing that keep us active and happy can be dangerous to our mental and physical health! This is where the things most of us dislike doing, like strength training, stretching and cardiovascular workouts, help us stay active in other areas deeper into the fourth quarter.

One of our clients approaching age 70 didn’t do enough of these things and tore a muscle in her hip. Often this would have spelled doom for her favorite activities, golf and tennis. She knew this danger and sought out one of the most sought out orthopedic doctors in New York City. They had a sports advisor in the office who advised her to seek out a specialist in her hometown who does sports medicine stretching, exercise consulting and help improve her golf swing to put less stress on her more fragile muscles and joints. The NY specialist even had some referral options for her to interview in her hometown. This local resource was inexpensive compared to her losing one of other favorite activities, a vital part of her Who? Social Network.

She demonstrated that How? you do things, not just what you do, often leads to a better outcome.

6. Q: My husband and I took the values assessment test and confirmed what we already knew – we value different experiences. How do we have a quality fourth quarter with our values so misaligned? We do still love each other and most of the time, like each other.

A: Radically different values can lead to multiple fourth quarter fumbles. My favorite champions in this area have used the following techniques:

  • They coordinated their weekly time schedules and made sure their different itches were scratched

  • They occasionally travelled together, but often travelled with different friends and acquaintances

  • They nurtured friends in the network who had similar personalities and ones who were very different to avoid boredom

Since “one size fits one” in the fourth quarter of life, you need to be creative and make some adjustments to maintain a high level of individual and marriage happiness.

The Fourth Quarter Fumbles book has many resources listed to help focus on the strengths of the fourth quarter of life and your relationship.

7. Q: I’m a single male widower entering the fourth quarter. I feel like I need a woman in my life for companionship and to help each other later in life. My children are not supportive of this idea. Should I risk alienating them, even potentially disconnecting from them while pursuing my own happiness?

A: It’s good that you’re aware of the dangers – many men pursue their own passions without first making sure they aren’t destabilizing other important parts of their life. Some men feel it’s none of the children’s business – this may be partially true, but sabotaging relationships with children rarely works out well deeper into the fourth quarter.

There are many levels of emotions wrapped up in your children’s feelings about you finding a new relationship. I wonder if they know the dangers of you being unhappy as you progress into the fourth quarter. If you feel deprived, it’s liable to lead to depression which often then leads to health and money fumbles. Find the right time and place to sit down with each of them and discuss your feelings. If needed, provide them with a tool to communicate better - give them a copy of the classic communication book, How to Say it to Seniors by David Solie.

8. Q: I’m a single divorcee just entering the fourth quarter. I have no plans to re-marry and may be single the rest of my life. My one child lives far away, I’m an introvert and I’m anxious about how I’ll fare on my own as I age.

A: Your concerns are well founded – with fewer support people around you as you age (your Who?), the potential for fumbles is greater. The potential for fumbles is also higher where you don’t rebound and get back on your preferred track for the future. Here are some ideas from my research and my practical experience helping clients in the fourth quarter:

  • Explore the Modern Widows Club which has chapters all over the country – this was a lifesaver for one of our clients who had no children and few friends – it became an extended social network of people facing similar circumstances - “We serve to empower women to lean into life.”

  • Make sure you’re in a neighborhood where one or two neighbors will watch out for you as you age. One woman I interviewed in California was certainly not a social gadfly, has no children, but her immediate neighbors were her social network. One neighbor in particular is responsible and younger and has been helping her as she has now entered her “no-go” stage of life.

  • If you lose your one good friend due to her illness, moving away or some other cause, go out of your way to “tend the friendship garden” – add another friend who you can count on. The time to do this is years in advance of any type of fumble happening to you – good friends you can count on in a pinch don’t grow on trees!

  • Get to know the local network of geriatric care managers. These are health care professionals who can help be a health care advocate and coordinate medical resources in case you have difficult health issues later in life. The nurse at your doctor’s office may have some ideas or check out web resources like

9. Q: My parents are having a tough fourth quarter of life. Dad never did find his reason for getting out of bed and has been increasingly grumpy with my mom. Both are depressed and disconnecting from friends, exercise and everything else they enjoyed. Are there any solutions or is it too late?

A: Once one or both parents are in a decline phase, it’s tough, but not impossible, to get them moving in a more positive direction. A decisive intervention has helped in some cases.

One family almost literally scooped up both parents and took them on a cruise. The children arranged for one of their dad’s best friends, who was a positive fourth quarter model, to be on the same cruise. The dad shifted into a positive state of mind. Helped by other positive forces, including an offer to volunteer from a local community group (helped along by one of the dad’s daughters), the downward cycle was stopped, and turned positive for the remaining “slow-go” years of their life. Costly in time spent planning and money, yes. Worth it to avoid the bad place the parents were headed later in life? The children now think it was the most appropriate investment they could have made, and they think they should have done it sooner.

The fourth quarter requires extra creativity to stay ahead of the fumbles, or recover well from a fumble, whether you’re a resource for an aging parent or you’re the aging parent.

10. Q: How many different aspects of personality create different fourth quarter challenges and opportunities?

A: Hundreds of different permutations are possible, which makes Fourth Quarter Fumbles a guide for thoughtful planning more than a set-in-stone “do this and you’re okay” book. Here are just a few of the different areas that affect success and happiness in the fourth quarter:

  • Couple dynamics

  • Family issues, often decades old

  • Single by choice

  • Single by fate (widow(er))

  • Introvert versus Extravert

  • Fixed mindset versus Growth mindset

  • Mars versus Venus

  • Practical versus Creative

  • Money and other “scripts” written in our brains early in life

  • Well off versus Poor

Every one of these differences in the way people think and their circumstances in life affect good possible fourth quarter game plans. One size truly doesn’t fit all – adapting plans to fit other people in your life can be a challenge, but often even more so in the fourth quarter. The perception of having less time ahead of us than behind serves to sharpen some people’s focus and create less urgency (“I’ve earned the right to take it easy”) in others. Viewing the fourth quarter as the greatest puzzle you’ll ever solve will get your brain moving in a direction of creating more happiness and avoiding potential fumbles or recovering faster when you do fumble.