Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 23, 2005
Retirement — the best is yet to come
Light One Candle
Recently, a friend told me about one of his co-workers who was approaching his retirement with a lot of fear and as his final day on the job got closer, was more and more visibly down.
When asked if he was feeling bad about leaving his job and co-workers the retiree said "No! I've just been thinking that my days of productivity are over. I won't have anything to challenge or motivate me any more."
What a terrible way to feel. It need not be that way at all. Writer Laura Ingalls Wilder published Little House in the Big Woods, the first of her popular eight-volume series, when she was 65 years old.
Former President George H. W. Bush skydived from 13,000 feet on his 80th birthday.
Lillian Carter, the mother of former President Jimmy Carter, joined the Peace Corps and went off to serve in India when she was 68.
And Jenny Wood-Allen ran the London Marathon when she was 90. It took her 11 hours and 34 minutes, but she finished.
Age, of and by itself, does not have to be an obstacle to our productivity and accomplishments. All too often when we think, "Maybe I should do that" or "I'd like to try that" we immediately go to "Ah, but I'm too old to try that" which, I think, really limits our potential.
My own fear of heights rules out skydiving - ever, at any age. On the other hand, I'm in good health for my age, actually like exercising and maybe, with training, could run a marathon, or at least a half-marathon. (That's an example, not a commitment to do it.)
he problem is that on those rare occasions when I think about it I tell myself that I don't have the time to practise, that it would be too much work and that I know I couldn't get into running condition - at my age.
As we get older, we allow age to be our excuse or reason to limit ourselves. We don't even try and, too often, age becomes the excuse we use to cover our fear of failing and having others see us doing so. Abraham Lincoln lost nine elections but he persevered and ultimately became president of the United States. Imagine what our history might be had he not kept trying.
What we accomplish in retirement doesn't have to involve volunteer work in another country or skydiving. It does not have to be big or earth-shaking, or visible to many people.
A friend of mine, after he retired, was invited by another friend to became involved in a "surrogate grandparent program" at a school in a poor neighbourhood. The program called for him to be at the school for two hours a day, three days a week, and tutor Grade 1 and 2 children.
My friend went into the program doubting he had the patience to work with such rambunctious children. But he was surprised at his level of patience, and is now enthusiastic about "his kids." He says nothing he did in his successful career gave him the sense of satisfaction he gets out of working with those children.
Retirement can be a new opportunity. I think the challenge is to avoid setting limits on ourselves because of age. We might be surprised by what we can do and what we can accomplish.
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