I was once of the opinion when I was younger that I wanted to be one of those people who could actually say that I retired early. So many people in the ’80’s and ’90’s were doing just that as they found their wealth in the explosion of the dotcom era in Silicon Valley. I could see myself leaving the work force around 40 with a fat 401k retirement accountwith enough to sustain my lifestyle for the remaining time I thought I would live.
The facts remain though that many people had the same view years ago and are finding themselves in serious financial woes that have not only tarnished the dreams of the good life they thought they would have, it has caused deep resentment for those that love and care for them.
There was a time when a man could look forward to the day when they had put in sufficient time laboring on the daily grind, get a gold watch and a hefty pension that would be enough for them and their wife to live off of. Yet as we moved further along into the Information Age, the rules of life and work began to change. What’s worse is that people’s reasons for retiring changed, so then people began to retire younger and younger. With that, what has happened is that you found people were dying almost immediately after they retired; some within 6-24 months.
One critical error that many make when it comes to retiring, whether it be early or at the normal time, is that many do not live a life with purpose or meaning. Have you ever heard the saying, “Get a life?” Many fail to have a life worth living while we’re working, so when retirement does come up, they can’t figure out what to do with their life once they have all this “free time” to do all the things they imagined for themselves. So then they literally die from boredom.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating; “I may be out of a job, but I’m never without a work.” What I mean by this is that regardless whether or not I am working the traditional 9-5career focused job, my life is not solely the job that I work. My life has both purpose and meaning. So many have made their job their life, so when time comes to leave it behind, they lose themselves in the process and become lost for what to live for. But when you understand that life is more than that thing you do to make money, you then find that there really is no such thing as retirement; you’re simply transitioning from one area of your life’s purpose to another.
You simply have to know why you want to retire and what you are retiring to. God meant for us to work. Work doesn’t end just because we grow older. It is simply meant to change and transition. What we are meant to do is change our roles from one thing to the next as we go from one stage in life to another. The bible shows how it was intended that the elders taught the younger, because they had acquired much knowledge. That creates continuity, posterity and legacy. Generational transfer is always needed from growth and consistency.
Don’t retire to a slow and meaningless death. Continue to wake up each morning with a fresh sense of purpose for living. I intend to live and retirement is not the plans for me. I may be out of a job, but I’m never without a work.
QUESTION: Do you struggle with the thoughts of whether retirement fits your life? How do you view what retirement looks like?