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The Fourth Quarter: A Review

Mathis, Jim. The Fourth Quarter (Overland Park, Kan.: Mathis Books, 2018). Paper, 102 pages. Available

On any project in which we’re engaged, whether constructing a house or writing a book or pursuing a degree, it’s often good to pause to inspect our work and ensure that we’re on the right track. If we find that we’re off track, we still have time to get back on the right track and resume the work. It’s better that than to finish the job only to learn that we’ve done it all wrong but find it’s too late to do anything to correct it. This exercise is especially critical to successfully completing one’s life journey.

Jim Mathis ably addresses this topic in his book The Fourth Quarter. At a mere 102 pages, his book is a quick and easy read (I read it in one sitting), but does it ever pack a lot into a small space! It certainly gives readers a lot of food for thought.

Mathis, a photographer-musician-author, uses the analogy of a football game in focusing our attention on the preparations we are making for retirement. Just as a football game is divided into quarters, we can also envision our journey through life like that.

In the first quarter of life, we’re “navigating . . . through childhood and obtaining an education,” and it takes us from birth through about the first two decades of our life, perhaps a little longer for some of us. It’s all about preparation.

The second quarter is a time when we (hopefully) “become very good at something,” when we settle down into a career. Near the end of this period, during what might be called “halftime,” many people become discouraged or disillusioned and experience what many people call a “mid-life” or “quarter-life crisis.” The second quarter is about direction or purpose. For some people, it might extend into the third quarter and involve a career change, a total redirection of their lives.

Mathis summarizes this period with this poignant statement: “Many [people] discover that they have spent their life working at a job they don’t like to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like.”

Then comes the fourth quarter. We find ourselves rapidly approaching retirement and, eventually death. And we must ask ourselves if we are ready for them. Mathis points out that “in the fourth quarter of the game, we can’t see the clock,” that is, we don’t know how much more time we have left. And we must decide whether we just give up and head for the showers or keep playing until the last second.

This book is not a book of financial advice or funeral pre-planning, but it does make one think about those things. We certainly should include them in any assessments we make of our lives. Will we be ready, not only financially but also psychologically, for retirement? Will we conduct our retirement with a definite purpose? Mathis warns, “Without a purpose . . . we quickly wither and die.”

We’ll all eventually die, of course, and that raises an even more critical question: Are we ready to die? And are we ready to enter eternity and what that entails?

Mathis’s book will do one thing for sure. It will make you think. It’s his clear, though instated, desire that it also make you act. Evaluate and prepare!

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the book review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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