I'm OK … I’m good to go … It’s fine … .”

These were all responses I gave to my football coaches and trainers decades ago to avoid admitting I was hurt and needed to come out of the game. Whether I had just run head-on into another player, took a shot to the ribs or got chop blocked at my knees, I was taught from a young age to be a warrior—to hide the pain and discomfort, to play through a concussion or another injury, to never admit defeat and do whatever it took to win. I loved the game and gladly accepted the warrior’s code.

Since then I have come to terms with the fact, as many other athletes have, that this tough guy, play-on-no-matter-what attitude comes at a price—a significant cost to your long-term physical and mental health. While great strides have been made in football in raising awareness about concussions, the same cannot be said about problems suffered in the game of retirement planning, where a similar code of denying pain exists, especially among men. The current retirement planning culture encourages many household heads to focus on their careers and do whatever it takes to support their family while sacrificing many personal things in exchange for a future retirement.

Ask any guy age 50 and over how things are going with work and family and you’ll get a warrior’s response: “It’s good. Everything is fine. Can’t complain.” They have accepted the everyday grind but don’t realize they are taking hits to their social life, family relationships and physical well-being. They are taking blows to the head and heart that can cause major problems later on in life when they don’t have their work life, team or identity to help them keep things together.

As financial professionals, we are uniquely positioned to help change this culture, and it starts by no longer allowing clients to compartmentalize their retirement plans. We can no longer allow men to stay in the game without warning them that their financial and career focus may inhibit their ability to thrive in retirement. In a nutshell, that means getting educated on more than just modern portfolio theory and the 4% rule for retirement income.

This process starts with research and science to raise awareness. When it comes to football, we have all come to learn that there is a correlation between repeated head injuries and later health difficulties. Years of head trauma can lead to a brain disease commonly referred to as CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The symptoms can include dementia, memory loss and depression.

As a result of this research, the culture of the game has changed. Coaches and players have not only had to adapt to the issue, but many parents are also opting to either pull kids from the sport or delay the age at which they strap on a helmet. There was even a major motion picture done on the topic, Concussion starring Will Smith.

But when it comes to retirement, advisors remain unaware of similar correlations or problems that can affect a client’s body, brain or their overall well-being. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that we begin to use the science and research available to us to better educate our clients as they move toward a retirement decision.

For example, right now, we know that 20 of the 43 most stressful life events can come near or during the early phases of retirement (according to a measure called the Holmes and Rahe stress scale). Retirement itself is number 10 on this stress list. But most advisors have no knowledge of this, nor do they have the tools or resources to help clients deal with it.

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