How to Find Meaning in Retirement

If you’re a retired guy—or are approaching retirement—or are simply thinking ahead to your senior years, then this post is directed to you. You may be in the sweet spot of life, reeling from a crisis, struggling with unforeseen issues, or somewhere in between. Whatever the case, my guess is that you’ve given life your all, have tried to make an impact as a husband, father, colleague, and friend, and are hoping for an even better endgame.

Only there’s a problem.

You can’t quite define it, but it gnaws at you. You’re dissatisfied. Maybe a little anxious. You have questions: What will your life look like after retirement? Will this tour through the years end the way you planned? Is each day filled with too much routine and too little substance? Is there more to life than this?

Are you missing something?

These are common questions, especially near the end of a career, after many years of marriage, or when the bloom is off the rose of retirement. They address the prominent and growing concerns of those of us who sense, like the poet Andrew Marvel, “time’s winged chariot is drawing near.” We can’t reverse our body’s aging process. There’s no reason, however, for our spirit to remain stuck in a holding pattern. We’re capable of much more. We can make the rest of our lives the best of our lives.

In the final chapter of his classic work Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis provides a picture of what I’m talking about. He’s not referring to someone who’s only tinkered with a few adjustments late in life, but to a person entirely transformed. He calls it the “New Man”:

“Already the new men are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly recognizable: but others can be recognized. Every now and then one meets them. Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognizable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the idea of ‘religious people’ which you have formed from your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less. They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from. When you have recognized one of them, you will recognize the next one much more easily.” 1

Does Lewis’s description resonate with you? Have you ever met someone like this? You can be one of these people. There’s a New Man inside each of us, eager to be reactivated after a time of neglect or simply waiting to be discovered and kicked into gear. What I’m proposing is a journey of the spirit, a chance to press the refresh button of your life.

It’s not too late. Your New Man is waiting for you, ready to be awakened. It’s the best journey you’ll ever take, and I’m excited to take it with you. Toward that end, follow my posts and share them with friends who you’d like to include in this conversation. There’s millions of us out there asking the same questions about how to find purpose in life after retirement. So, we’re far from alone.

Yours for the journey,

Steve 

Steve Silver—February 15, 2013

 

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1. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY, Harper Collins, 2001), pg. 223