Don’t Retreat, It May Cost You Your Life

by Bhaj Townsend

Retirement for some can look like a dark and foreboding abyss from which there is no turning back and in which there is no real meaning.  Whether a successful business owner or successful career titan, you may have a client who feels uncomfortable when asked: “When are you going to retire? What are you going to do?  Aren’t you looking forward to it?”

Whether it is a fear of the unknown, reluctance to give up the familiar, or unsure of how to turn existing control confidently to someone else, many are unprepared for retirement. They really don’t see it for themselves. It really looks like a fall into a dark and foreboding abyss.

They know what it’s like to be in control of your life. They are in command:  at work they know what to initiate, progress or complete; they know how to navigate and sustain relationships with familiar and problem solving conversations; they are appreciated and counseled. They have a purpose. Changing this does not sound like fun. For some, it sounds difficult and uncomfortable to let go of this environment. They don’t mind the idiosyncrasies at work. It’s all day at home that sounds scary to them.     

The popular belief for these people is that in retirement life will cease to have meaning. This has become a self-fulfilling myth for many. Without knowing what they want in retirement, those who fear retirement are likely to drift when they’re in it.  It’s natural. Nothing else has been put in its place.

Once their vacation period is over, if people don’t have a plan, they retreat into their cave, but for what purpose, other than to have time pass? Perpetuating this belief creates great risk. Let me explain:

Shell Oil and independently the University of Zurich found that there is a strong correlation between a rudderless retirement and early death. They each found that there is an 89% grater chance of death within 10 years for those without a purpose than those who have one.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

As a matter of fact, retirement was never meant like that. Let’s look at the word retirement. The root of the word retirement is from the old French word re-tirer which means to draw again.  It does not mean, as popularly believed, to withdraw, the universal accepted meaning today. WOW, I think that changes everything.

With the right preparation retirement can be crafted so that people live meaningful lives. When they take the time to craft the retirement they want, when they take time to figure out what they want - perhaps part time consulting, mentoring or whatever it is that provides them with personal meaning – retirement can be relaxing and fulfilling. When people find the time to craft the personal meaning and purpose at home as well, retirement can bring the shine into the gold of the golden years.

We have programs designed especially for people approaching and planning their retirement. Our tools and systems can help people find the meaning they crave, can help people significantly reconnect with their spouse so that life outside their work falls back nicely into place.