Retirement isn’t about enough money to retire. It’s about others.
This is a shocking statement considering what you read on the internet about retirement. Almost all of the top Google responses to the word “retirement” are about money: 401K, IRA, Social Security, and financial planning lead the field of top hits.
Talk to your friends who are near retirement age. What are they talking about? They either talk about health or money. And if they are in good health, all of them are talking about money and investments.
The truth is, not many folk approaching retirement have enough money. It’s not surprising they are focusing on IRAs and 401Ks.
— Retirement Investor (@InvestYourBest) March 24, 2016
No one else is saying it, so I guess it’s up to me. If you are only focusing on money as you near retirement age, it is going to be a sad trip through your new chapter of life. Retirement isn’t about having enough money to retire.
Here’s the most important consideration as you near retirement: will you retire or ReFIRE? I write many articles about those two options but let me make sure you understand what I mean.
“Retirement” is a state of mind which says, “Life is finally about me.”
“ReFIRE” is a state of mind which says, “Life is finally about others.”
Notice there is nothing in those two perspectives which focus on having enough money to retire.
Your most important consideration as you near retirement age is your perspective about the new life chapter you are entering. Will life be about you or others?
Go ahead. Amuse yourself and look up the definition of retirement. Here’s what you’ll find. The definition focuses on you: a time to withdraw, to retire a side in baseball, to stop activity. Our cultural view of retirement rests on the belief life is now all about the one who retires. Now it’s time to indulge yourself: travel the world, lay on the beach, sleep in until you can’t stand it any longer.
This conventional idea of retirement makes me want to puke. What a waste!
Here’s my vision of what the next chapter of life looks like. I choose to ReFIRE. This chapter of life I am entering is more exciting than any other chapter. Why? Because I am starting to help people more than ever.
To ReFIRE your life is to recognize you are at the peak of life. You’ve learned the hard lessons in life. You know what’s really important. You’ve gained tons of life experiences. You are becoming the Wise Sage. You have connections. You have more free time than when you were climbing the ladder to the top of your profession. Your skills are honed. THIS is the time of life where you have more to offer the world than ever before.
Why would you take all of that and sit in a rocking chair watching Matlock reruns?
Here’s a few ideas to illustrate what it means to ReFIRE your life and focus on others:
- Volunteer at the local hospital.
- Find a beginner in your field and mentor them.
- Join the Peace Corp. (Nope. I’m not kidding. The Peace Corps has opportunities for you.)
- Start a neighborhood basketball league with underprivileged kids.
- Become a champion for new Christians at your local church.
- Be the person who changes the oil in the cars of single moms.
- Go to the school and offer to tutor kids who are struggling to read.
- Make sure the grass is mowed all summer long for the elderly on your block.
- Pick one day a week to buy groceries and visit the other side of town and hand out sandwiches to the homeless.
- Invest yourself in a grandchild who is struggling in life.
- Heck. Stand on the street corner and hand out five dollar bills. (Yes, I’ve done this.)
- Make it your mission to give everyone you meet a smile. When people look at you smile and see if they smile back.
- Start a business and hire someone who needs a mentor.
- Offer to teach a free class at the library in the area of your specialty.
- Start a blog which encourages the lonely.
Do you get it? I’m just getting started.
Let’s review. Our cultural understanding of retirement is that it is all about me. We obsess over whether we have enough money to retire. But my concept of this period of life is to ReFIRE by giving back to others.
Here’s what I’m discovering. When you focus on others, your own life takes on a deeper level of joy and satisfaction.
Will you have enough money to retire? It’s a good question but not the most important one.
Retirement isn’t about having enough money; it’s about others.
Never retire. Always ReFIRE.
And it’s just that simple.