We are being told to work towards our retirement, to save up for what comes after, to hold on tight until we can finally enjoy the rest of our life. Isn’t that a horrific statement?
What this tells us is that we are not meant to enjoy our lives until we actually reach that moment. Second, and that’s the real kicker, it imposes an expiration date on our purpose. It draws a clear line beyond which a person’s value to society ends, and we can see it. Many people of “retirement age,” or older, lose a deep sense of purpose once they retire. Many seem to fall into a semi coma, living each day exactly as the one before; others get anxious because everything has become still. Sure, many fill their days with activities that keep them busy. But it’s really just a long wait for the big nothing. In many ways, retirement is a slow and invisible killer. One that we consent to. One that we agree on. Well..I don’t. Not at all. And here is why:
It is completely unnatural to put an expiration date on your life’s work. Nature does not retire, ever. There is no hardcoded data within the apple tree that tells it that it’s time to retire- to basically live out the last of its life in full awareness that some end is near, and contribute nothing as it awaits the end. What a sad thing to believe! What a strange thing to work towards when we know that contribution is life itself.
But, when we get into the working world, we sign that agreement and we perpetuate the belief. For many, it’s a light at the end of the tunnel: The liberation from the necessity to work, leaving a job that they hate, abandoning the struggle. But that would also mean that we agree to 40+ years of struggle in a workplace we potentially hate. IF we even make it that far! I am sorry my friends, but this isn’t good enough. This is barely survival. We deserve more. We deserve to fix this.
What if, instead of endorsing a life of imprisonment, and a late pardon into a life without purpose (retirement), we flip things around and make our life about purpose from the beginning to end?
You see, there is no end to our purpose. It is false to believe that our commitment to our purpose ends on day X. Our purpose is with us until the day we die, and we don’t necessarily die at the age of 65. Yes, the ways in which we will bring our purpose to life might change. This can be due to our age and fitness or to the development of the times. But the purpose in our heart stays the same. Abandon the notion that ‘work is purpose’ and flip it around: Turn your purpose into your work and scrap the word ‘retirement,’ and use the phrase ‘evolution of your purposeful work,” instead.
Make a plan today.
1) Invest time into understanding your life’s purpose. 2) Make a plan on how to turn this purpose into actionable work. 3) Build a vision for how your purposeful work could change over time. 4) Rinse and repeat until it becomes so embedded and clear to you that you can finally kiss the weird notion of retirement goodbye.