Why do so many business owners and financial planners have such a hard time developing an exit plan? I believe one terrorist plaguing both of them—all of us, really—needs to be taken out. The terrorist: our vague and worrisome picture of “retirement.” Consider the following story…
The Story of Herman “Hy” Goldman
Herman just celebrated his 101st birthday Aug. 18, 2014. Herman has worked at the same company for 73 years—except for the years he served in WWII. He is a lighting repair specialist who still drives himself to work four days a week. He considered retiring at 100 but decided to keep on working.
Now consider the headline that introduced the original story: “His 101st birthday present? Another day at work.”
What feelings does that headline evoke? Wonder? Envy? Pity? Terror?
- Wonder: “Wow! How does that guy keep going?”
- Envy: “I wish I felt that way about my job/business…or that I could keep working as long as I wanted.”
- Pity: “Poor guy. Doesn’t he have anything better to do? No hobbies?”
- Terror: “Free Hy! Get him out of that dead end job!…Free ME! I sure hope I don’t have to be trapped in this job/business that long!”
That reporter assumes we have a traditional 20th century notion of retirement, which is defined as “the period after you have permanently stopped your job or profession.” After all, how many of us say to ourselves, “we deserve to not have to work”?
Let’s dig into that feeling of wonder a bit deeper. What is Herman’s “Fountain of Youth” that keeps him alive and engaged? What’s the je ne sais quoi of Herman’s Fountain?
Here’s another personage who may help us create a new picture of retirement.
As a recent sports writer put it, Payton Manning is in the 4th quarter* of his career but he doesn’t act like it. He is tireless and NOT resting on a record-breaking 2013 season. What do we notice about Payton?
- He plays with the intensity of a rookie and having fun at quarterbacking.
- His arm strength is still increasing two years after his surgery (ask Wes Welker who was on the receiving end of a recent seemingly impossible, pinpoint accurate pass between multiple defenders)
- He’s like having a coach on the field and makes everyone on both sides of the ball better
- He, dad Archie and brother Eli run Manning Passing Academy for kids every summer. Dad Archie says:
We all stay in the same apartment. We work hard, now. My gosh, Peyton and Eli work so hard, and that’s what gives our camp credibility. We’ve had 19 of them, and they’ve never missed one minute. Either one of them. They’ve never left or showed up late or said they had a commitment. They’re there. And they’re serious about it, trying to get around to get to all the kids, and to all the college kids.
Archie is 65 and still runs a family restaurant in New Orleans. Do you think maybe Payton is getting some great modeling on finding his Fountain? Let’s redefine 21st century retirement as a pathway, not a destination. This pathway may be summed up very simply:
Daily do more of what you love and
daily do less of what you hate.
Living out of that intentionality works well for Herman and Payton. Payton’s–and our–Fountain is to take out the terrorist of 20th century “retirement” and replace it with a 21st century version. If you set an intention [look for an upcoming blog on intentionality] to do that each day and do so successfully for the rest of your life, wouldn’t that be a fine and gracious path to walk?
- Write out your own definition of retirement: “Starting today I want to do more of ____ and do less of __________ .”
- Click here to request more resources about clarifying your Fountain and redefining your notions of life beyond your business.