Friday, July 03, 2015

Time to Retire (Malcolm Black)

Guest Post

My Dad is the one person who gets my humour. I am the one person who gets his. It's ours. Beyond that, we have had to make our way through life finding people who can tolerate our silliness. One of the things that makes my Dad a particularly special man is how our relationship has transitioned into a friendship. We have a lots of shared interests and my life is richer because of him. I was super chuffed when my inbox delivered his guest post this afternoon. Dad and Bev, through their business Potential Unlimited, help people embrace the transition into retirement through the creation of a fulfilling and meaningful lifestyle.

Time to Retire
by Malcolm Black

Retiring? Why do you need to retire and what are you retiring from? Well I suppose we have come to understand by now what this is supposed to mean. We work at making a living from the time we leave school, or from a tertiary institution, build a career working in one company or moving around as life takes us and then the day comes when someone higher up the corporate ladder tells us we have to retire. We have reached 60 or 65 and we have to step out the door of the working world.

If we have a good pension fund and have been saving a bit extra because we have been financially astute and planned well, we may be looking forward to the day with excitement and anticipation. Now we can do all the things we have never been able to do, and we will be free to do just as we like. Play golf all and every day, or watch tennis whenever we want (my personal dream: to take two weeks to do nothing other than have bacon, eggs, toast and tea for breakfast, and watch Wimbledon from start to finish, not missing a single game, while snacking on biltong and nuts, and having high tea with strawberries and cream!)

All we have to do is manage our nest-egg, stay healthy and we can have a ball for as long as we live, which can be up to 30 years for many people these days. The reality is that for many of us this is not the way it turns out. Loss of work often means loss of identity, loss of status, loss of friends and loss of meaning. Those dreamed of day long leisure activities turn out to lose their glow when that is all there is to do. In the right quantity and when our lives are balanced they are most enjoyable, but when purpose and meaning go out of our lives we often become lost and despondent. The research literature on retired persons has shown this to be the case for many retirees. As Victor Frankl says, "Our search for meaning is the primary motivation in our lives." (Man's Search For Meaning)

And when the day to retire comes and we do not have a great pension and very little money saved we may lament and gnash our teeth. We may think we cannot go and do the things our hearts desire as we still need to earn a living and could feel cheated.

This may in fact be a blessing in disguise, as we will need to keep ourselves on the go, requiring mental and physical stimulation from an ongoing purpose and sense of meaning. What will help to add to a little sparkle and pleasure to our lives is if we focus more and more on what turns us on and fills us with enthusiasm. This is the time, if we have not done it already, to steer our work and play towards the things we are most passionate about. It is a time to expand beyond the mundane, focus on the joys of now, and just be focused on the next step.
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