Rising incomes and longer lives are the consistent variables showing up around the globe.
Generally that is.
Not everyone is living longer and getting wealthier, but a larger percentage of the world’s population is experiencing positive growth in life.Here in America, it’s much more likely to live deep into your 80’s than ever before. (There are some disturbing trends that show a decline in life span but I think it is mostly behavioral and can be reversed.)
We spend 30 years developing our self-identity.
We spend the next 30 years impacting lives.
Then we spend 30 years in retirement nursing memories.
The first two 30 year windows of time involved a great deal of risk that had to be met with courage, conviction, and commitment. Parallel to those experiences were occasional dreams of sailing the open seas sipping martinis and strawberry margaritas while peacefully retiring, driven only by the wind.
Those who actually do retire, and find the earliest days of their new found freedom assailed by regrets, emptiness, or undirected boredom sometimes ask themselves why they retired at all.
All through my teaching career, I gave very little serious thought to a future retirement because I didn’t ever want to retire. To me, retirement meant the initiation into a club for horses put out to pasture. All with good pedigrees but no longer useful; no longer wanted. So instead I told my friends I was going to get Retreaded for another 60,000 miles.
In June 2018, I left the classroom and went to get a new set of tires. I had them balanced and aligned so I could drive safely on any road I choose to take. I’ve worn off a little tread since then but they seem broken in pretty well now. My car is smaller but it still goes forward as fast as I need it to.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about retirement and a decent alternative to it. There has to be more to the last 30 year sprint in life than nursing margaritas and memories. So far, this is what gets me up in the morning to drive a little further down the road.
My first 30 years taught me who I was.
My next 30 years was filled with a lot of failures and a few victories leading me grudgingly to who I really am.
In my next 30 years, I want to take who I really am and use him to create a lot of victories with fewer failures. (Had I known what I know now when I was 30, well…who knows?)
Retiring at all is simply a chance to regroup. All of us who had a certain level of ambition, who dared to change the world even in a small way, deserve a good rest. And that rest may be extended for awhile. Long enough to ask ourselves another daring question. What’s next?
What’s the next new thing you are going to muster up the courage to try? What are you still capable of that the world needs that only you can give? If you are unhappily retired, simply rethink what that means and go get a new set of tires. If you are still a little exhausted from the beating you took at the end of your career, have someone else get the car set up. Why? Because,
You’ll never loose your love of driving with the windows down, music blaring, racing down the road less traveled.