Thursday, January 18, 2018

Should Retirement Be the Goal of Life?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.

I open with this qualifier: the above title came from another article. And since it caught my attention, I opted to incorporate it as my title here. (There, I’ve now navigated the waters of plagiarism, and given credit where credit is due!) The title captured my attention because I am in that age range where the option for retirement is considered to be on the horizon – or under better economic circumstances in America, should be. However, the bigger question that came to mind, after reading the article, isn’t if or when retirement might occur, but how it might look – and if it should look that much different from the decades leading up to it. And then my mind wandered off on another tangent….

Typically in America, you retire when you feel you have saved “enough” to do so. But the question arises – when is “enough,”enough? And does “enough” only refer to monetary resources? And does it only refer to retirement? Or does it somehow involve the human spirit being ready for – in fact, often times needing – the change from not only a full-time career to retirement, but also to any new path in life that may present a new set of challenges – and certainly transitions?

I am reminded of a friend who, when presented with a change in her life – a choice to retire or not based on a reduction in force – crunched the numbers, and being surprised at the bottom line, decided to retire. She realized that she could work more years and save more money, but she decided instead to step out and embrace what she considered “enough.” (She had had “enough” of work, and also, decided she had “enough” to live comfortably on. Two views of the same word.) She captained her own ship and chose to navigate new waters. Actually, she didn’t retire. She reinvented herself.

I am further reminded of a successful attorney who, after several years of practicing law, decided to pursue new avenues and went into theatre and later into the travel industry so that he could experience the world. There’s the legal secretary who, in her 50’s, is now in law school, preparing for that new path in her life. And there’s the friend who chose a job closer to home, for much less money, who now reaps the reward of 2 extra hours a day to pursue more time with family, hobbies and health. These folks embraced their “enough,” and have continued on to reinvent their lives to meet their changing desires.

But let’s go back to when is “enough,” enough? And what is your “enough?” Both quantity and type? What is enough to make you take that risk for change? Or, have you found your “enough” such that you are satisfied? There’s having enough such that you are satisfied, and then there’s having had enough of something such that it’s time to seek a change. Most importantly, whatever your “enough” is – does it own you, or are you captain of that ship?

Like my friend mentioned above, I want to reinvent. It may mean I spend more years working in the field I have enjoyed for decades, or it may mean I step out and try on a different career or ministry. And it may mean that I embrace more hobbies and projects while I wait patiently for my body to heal from cancer. But no matter what, I will keep my eye on the gauges so that I don’t lose track of when I’ve reached “enough” in any one area – both when it comes time to incorporate something new, and when it comes time to embrace satisfaction with where and who I am. (Example: I’ve acknowledged that I could never be a contestant on “American Idol” or “The Voice,” but I still have fun doing karaoke. LOL And in heaven one day, I’ll ask for upgraded vocal cords.)

I don’t want to be that person on the elevator at work who, on Monday morning, mumbles, “Man, I wish it was Friday already!” (He’s reached his “enough,” but he’s drowning in it, not addressing it.) I want to be the one who exclaims, “I feel so good today that I’d have to clone myself to feel any better.” (Admittedly, I’d have already had my hit of morning dark-roast Kona coffee…………)

Born and raised in a small suburb of Houston, Nancy grew up the middle child of a working-class family. After a decade of exploring and living in Alaska, Arizona and Oregon, her family ties led her back to the Houston area, where she currently resides as a single mother of a 25-year-old. Throughout her adult years, she has acquired her associate degree while working alongside nationally recognized legal teams to provide clients with excellent representation, and is currently studying for her paralegal certification. Managing one of life’s many potential curve balls, she also is currently two years into a cancer journey – waiting patiently as God does battle on her behalf — and continues to rest in the power of the blood and name of Jesus as she seeks to live out God’s plan for her life. Oh yes – and she loves to sing and participate with friends in karaoke!

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