Retirement is a Nasty Word

August 20, 2013

There must be a reason why I have always resisted retirement and why I have never allowed my clients to retire. I used to think it was because people need a reason to get up in the morning, to feel as though they are making a difference, to know that they are still capable of earning a living. All that is true, but it’s more than that.

People lose their zest for life if they have nothing worthwhile to occupy their minds and their days. They become old. Yes, I know. When you retire, it’s because you are old. Well, not exactly.

You may be old in terms of years, but you are not old in terms of productivity and creativity. Look at Grandma Moses, an American folk artist, who started painting in her seventies and continued until her death at 101.

Studies have always shown a correlation between declining health and retirement. I remember hearing about a man who had retired a couple of years before, saying to a woman who had just retired, “See all these people sitting by the pool? Half of them will be dead in six months.” Six months later he was dead. And the sad fact is that he was healthy when he retired.

People need a purpose in life. They also need to feel connected to other people. When you have too much time on your hands and not enough interesting things to do with that time, your focus becomes centered on yourself, and this often leads to depression and the breakdown of the physical body.

It’s amazing to watch people who are sick, feeling better when they are helping someone who needs them. It’s as if a magic button is being pushed and he or she gets that extra surge of energy, for however long it’s needed, and during this time, you can feel that person’s life force getting stronger and more vibrant.

After the crisis is over and the adrenalin isn’t pumping fast and furiously, you can feel tired and drained, but exhilarated. This, then, is the key: if you must retire, at least try to help others who need help more than you.

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