Our experiences over the last 26 years working with individuals who are in their last years of working, retiring, and reaching retirement have taught us more than you can imagine. But if you were to ask what the number one piece of advice we would give you from all of these experiences is, it wouldn't have anything to do with money. It would simply be to have something to retire to.
My gut clenches when I hear someone say, "I am burnt out. I can't work anymore. I don't know what I am going to do, but I am retiring." This isn't necessarily a death sentence - in fact, some of the people we encountered who were in such a negative mental state actually blossomed when that burden was finally lifted. But that is more of an exception. Often when someone retires without a plan or a goal, it can translate to a death sentence.
There is an old adage that says, "You are either growing or dying." Too many people retire and stop growing...not just mentally, but emotionally due to the loss of a social setting, physically due to loss of activity, focus due to the loss of a schedule. So my intent today is to get your mind working so you can continue growing and living until your very last day.
One of the best things I ever did was write my obituary. Yes - you read that right. Dr. John Rhodes, which many of you may remember coming as a guest speaker to one of our events, had me do it. It’s somewhat ironic that we are trying to prevent an early death and talking about writing your obituary, but I think you will find it enlightening. Dad shared his Sunday School take-away with me yesterday. He asked, "If the world ended tomorrow, are you ready?" My reply was, "Of course!" Then he asked, "Okay, but are you prepared?" Looking at my obituary, I’m not. There are still things I want to accomplish, things I want to teach my children, so much I still need to give back. So yes, writing your obituary can give you a lot of direction, not just spiritually or in terms of your future retirement
I have always found it a bit amusing that in our culture everyone you come in contact asks, "How are you?" even though you can almost bet the answer will be "I'm fine." I sometimes think - "I'm above ground...it’s a good day for me." We all need and tend to thrive with something to be excited about and to live for. And sometimes it just takes a little soul searching to find it. I encourage you to have something to retire to so that you can "live Life on purpose!”