Integrate your vocation and your identity by thinking of life as a journey rather than a destination. ~Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Retirement is really a negative word in my book. The concept in its traditional meaning is flawed. I don’t think that you should ever stop working, following your calling, and providing value to others. God put us here to work, and to do the work that he intends for us, until it’s time for us to move on. I think that we should never retire!
Retirement implies that we’re going to stop working and that there’s an end to our productivity. I want to always be useful in this world and serve to my capacity. If I’m able to work then that means that I’m feeling good and contributing to those around me and beyond.
Maybe you move on to something less time-consuming than a typical 40+ hour workweek but to something more fulfilling. Come up with a plan so that you can spend more time with your family sooner rather than later. Time is precious so don’t put family time off. It may very well be too late after you’ve worked and worried yourself to death with a job that can never pay you back for lost time.
Start setting boundaries today and align them with your life priorities. I’m mostly speaking to families, folks with young children or with families in their future, here. Don’t use up the best years with your young children and trade them for years with teens or older kids that may never come later on. There’s nothing wrong with teenagers, of course, and I hope that I have strong relationships with my kids when they’re that age. What I’m talking about is that you’ve got the best opportunity and likelihood to making a lasting impact when the kids are younger. Find a way to love your family and your work.
Maximize the time that you’ve set aside for work. Do your best in the time that you have and move on. You’re not going to have any more success by pushing yourself over the edge and pushing those that matter away in the meantime. Find a way that you can excel at managing your time between your family and work. A book, The One Thing, that I’m currently reading, well listening to, has some great insight into how we can focus on the right things.
Build Them Up
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
We will go through transitions in life but it’s prudent to have something to go to where we can have the opportunity to be a better person and build others up. I’m not saying that you should keep doing something that you don’t love. If that’s the case then make a plan to transition now, not ten years down the road when you’ve hit the age to draw social security and/or retirement benefits.
Dig deep to find your strengths and move in a direction where you can use your strengths. I believe that God anointed each of us with talents but sometimes it’s not evident as to what those are. If you’re able to use your strengths in your current job then do so and make it a better place to work. If you’re not able to then move on.
In most sports, the follow-through is as important as any other action. The follow-through dictates the direction and the ultimate outcome of the ball. If you view the strike of the ball as the final outcome then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Think of your life in this way. Don’t make retirement a goal but aim to continue to contribute and create until you can no longer physically do so.
We have to believe that work has value in and of itself. A popular belief or lie is that work has no value other than a means to an end, retirement. The idea is to love what you do. It may not always work out that you can make a living with your passion but it is possible to learn to love what you do professionally. Think of ways that you can infuse your day-to-day activities with meaning. This may be taking a younger person under your wing to mentor them. It might be that you go to work with the intention of enriching a co-workers life in some way.
Your job or career is something that God has blessed you with. Being a good steward in this area means that you make the most of any activity that you do and do it with pride. God tests us in the little things so that He can move us on to bigger things. When you have days that you don’t feel like being the positive and uplifting person remember that you’re blessed and how important it is that you make the most of every hour of the day.
My inspiration and basis for this post comes from Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book Thou Shall Prosper. This is a must read for understanding money in a biblical way. Rabbi Lapin provides a thorough synopsis of how Jewish people, who are typically successful, view money and business. God wants us to prosper.