The Second Half of Your Life
I had several conversations this week about the stress of retirement, both in terms of the financial stress of retirement – will there be enough money, and also in terms of the life stress of retirement – what does this mean for me personally and emotionally? There is so much focus on the financial issues of retirement that the personal and emotional side is often overlooked. Some find retirement the best time of their lives, while others can find retirement empty, lonely and unfulfilling. Many executives and business owners attach much of their identity and self-worth to their business success. Many more find that their social lives and their work lives overlap, resulting in genuine loss of friendships in retirement. While I’m still a working man myself, I have had the privilege to walk the retirement path with hundreds of individuals and couples. Some have retired well, while others have struggled. Those with fulfilling retirements tend to think of retirement as a beginning rather than an end.
Do you remember when you first graduated from High School or College? Most of us were filled with a strange mixture of fear and excitement. We were nostalgic as we remembered the good times we had, and the friends we made. We were also glad to finally be ‘done’ and excited for the next phase of our lives, full of hope and goals for career, family, and the world. There is a reason that graduation ceremonies are called commencements – they mark the start of so much of our lives.
Now consider how many of us approach retirement. In many respects, retirement is a milestone not unlike graduation, marking the end of one phase of our lives and the beginning of another. While we are so glad to be ‘done’, we also feel the loss of leaving colleagues and career, remembering the accomplishments, the obstacles overcome, the comradery of the workplace and challenge brought by work. We also feel the fear and excitement of the future as we step out once again into the unknown.
But do we consider retirement to be a commencement, the start of something big, or do we consider retirement to be the finish line, the end, or at least the beginning of the end, when we get to collapse and do nothing? If we had drive, ambition and goals when we graduated from high school, what do we have when we retire? Do we take the time to plan and consider what we want for the second half of our lives? Do we create goals at retirement like created at graduation? Are we truly excited for what lies ahead?
Having walked beside my clients through retirement, I believe that those who view retirement as a beginning have much more fulfilling lives. Consider what you are running toward in retirement. Is it time with family and grandkids, or time with your spouse? Perhaps you are called to ministry or volunteer work or teaching. Perhaps you have a passion for a second career now that you have more financial freedom to choose your work. What is your purpose for getting up in the morning?
If you are in retirement, or even considering retirement, I encourage you today to clarify your goals for the second half of your life, approaching retirement with the same kind of hope and drive that you had when you were younger. Where would you like to place the emphasis in the next season of your life? Where would you like to grow? How would you like to impact this world? What kind of legacy would you like to leave your family?
Retirement can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling times of our lives, but it does take some thought and planning beyond the financials. I hope that you will take the time to make your goals for the second half.