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Plan for a purposeful retirement.

The trouble with steady, full-time jobs for over 40 years or more is that we become associated with our job. We know as much about our fellow workers’ families as we do about our own. We make friends at work, learn skills at work, receive enjoyment and self-esteem at work – and for many of us, work consumes the greater portion of us – our time, our energy, our thoughts and our physical presence.

When we retire, we have a problem because all of that is suddenly taken away from us.

During your working days people ask “What do you do? After retirement, they ask “What did you do?”

Retirement is not as much an end as it is a beginning to a new stage in life where your increased freedom allows you to more fully examine your life purpose and to explore new fields of involvement.

People who retire, die sooner. It’s a fact. Researchers looked at employees of a global oil company who retired early at 55 and those who retired at the traditional 65. The early retirees were 89% more likely to die within the 10 years after retirement than those who retired at 65.

I would wager that most of those who survive longer are those who plan ahead, and have something to retire to – whether it is part-time consulting, a new business, an extensive travel itinerary or a volunteer position with a non-profit organization.

When you retire from a job; you should never retire from making contributions, whether through volunteering, mentoring or helping others in some other way.

The first two thirds of our lives, for the most part, have been a time and getting. Getting a job, getting possessions, getting a house, getting a family, getting new friends and new adventures. The final third of our lives needs to be primarily a time for giving. Giving our time, energy, financial resources, skills and talents.

Do something that will give you a reason to get out of the bed in the morning – something that will give purpose to your retirement. As Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. “It’s important to be actively serving others for your own mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being.

It has been proven that when people feel they are making a difference, they are happier. Through MRI technology, researchers have discovered that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Helping others can make us healthier, happier, and more productive, more fulfilled and even increase our longevity.

A study published by BMC Public health concluded that taking time to volunteer could reduce early mortality rates by 22% compared to those who do not volunteer.

Retirement gives you the opportunity to focus on things that are really important.

If you have already retired, it’s still not too late to plan your future. But you must stay alive by participating in life. You are never old until you start spending more time on past memories than on future goals.

The trouble with having nothing to do is that you never know when you’re done. And if your job is doing nothing, how can you ever take a day off? Activity is one of the keys to longevity.

Finally, don’t become obsessed with the idea of being remembered. Some people seem to seek immortality by having something named after them, whether it is a building, scholarship, park bench or whatever. The people who really matter to you will never forget you. The people who do forget you are not the people who matter to you.