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Tom vs Time. Are There Lessons for Us Mere Mortals Planning to Retire?

Credit: Facebook

By Joe Casey

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a Boston native and a Patriots fan since 1970. However, since I now live halfway between New York and Philadelphia, I am fully aware of how the Patriots and Tom Brady are viewed outside of New England.

I’ve always loved sports because of stories – the story that develops within a game, over a season or in the arc of a career. So, Tom Brady’s six-part docuseries Tom vs Time , which is currently unfolding in 15 minute episodes on Facebook, drew my attention immediately. As a Patriots fan, I was instantly appalled at the confidence/hubris of releasing it at this time in the season.  Do not taunt the Football Gods. Please do not mess with Karma.

How you will see this series probably depends on how you view the Patriots and Brady before you watch any of it. As a fan, I find it captivating, but in reality, it’s essentially a well-done infomercial. But there’s plenty of fodder for fans and haters alike. If I was not a Pats fan, this would lead me to fiercely root for Philly, especially after watching Episode 3.

Professionally, I am keenly interested in personal development.  I was curious about a chance to look behind the curtain and learn about his approach. I quickly noticed some things that may be useful for those of us who are planning for retirement. New England and Philadelphia fans can all agree that marrying a supermodel with an annual income that’s reportedly north of $30 million is a good first step on the financial side. Since we focus on the non-financial side at Retirement Wisdom, we’ll ignore that one.

So what can we mere mortals possibly take away from this?

Lay the Foundation for Your Second Act – While You’re Still Working

The whole docuseries itself is one of several steps in the foundation he’s building for life after football. While he has stated that he intends to play until he’s 45, he’s promoting his TB12 fitness centers now at 40. It’s clear that he believes that these methods can revolutionize training for elite athletes – and the lifestyles of people in general. No matter what you think of the methodology, it’s smart that he’s preparing the path now, some yet to be known number of years ahead of his transition.

Chart Your Own Course

My Retirement Wisdom business partner is fond of saying that every retirement is different. Don’t follow the traditional view. Figure out the things that are most important to you and design your life in retirement around those. That’s clearly what Brady is doing here. He has a lot of options. There was speculation that he would enter politics or acting. But he’s bought into unconventional training and lifestyle methods – and they are working well for him. In spite of criticism, he’s pursuing a vision of building a business as his Second Act, one that he believes will be profitable, but will also contribute to the greater good.

Think Multidimensionally

The first four episodes of Tom vs Time cover the Physical, Mental, Social and Emotional aspects of his approach. This breakdown is highly relevant to planning for retirement. It’s easy to think of retirement as purely a financial exercise. But it is much more than that. You need a proactive approach to health and fitness, learning, staying cognitively sharp and building new social connections. Without forethought on how to do each of these, you risk a one-dimensional plan for retirement and a more limited experience in your retirement phase of life.

Leverage the Expertise of Others

No one does great things without the help of others. Tom vs Time shows the ultra-high level resources that an elite professional athlete has chosen to surround himself with. At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss that aspect as not being relevant to we mortals. In fact, many of us may be philosophically oriented to the other extreme of a ‘do it yourself’ mindset.

But there’s a vast middle ground between those extremes. There are opportunities to tap into selective resources and expertise that can be very useful. There are different levels of financial and time commitments, but the right adviser or specialist can be a game changer. Some may be low to no cost, including community-based resources and people who you know who have done what you’re hoping to do. In my case, I had a goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. After 11 attempts with my own educated, but ‘do it myself’ training approaches, I closed the gap to within 8 minutes. The breakthrough came for me when I hired an online running coach. It was not expensive. And yet, he made two important changes to my training regimen which led to cutting my time by 13 minutes and beating the qualifying time by almost 5 minutes. It was leveraging an advisor that made the difference.

So if you’re a fan, hater (or someone who doesn’t really care who wins, like most of my family), I hope you enjoy the Super Bowl. No matter what happens in the game, give some thought to how what Brady is doing may help you win your own retirement and Second Act.

Joe Casey  is an executive coach, who also helps people think through and create their Second Acts, at






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