A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

Never Retire

(This covers the tenth chapter from Rabbi Daniel Lapin‘s book Thou Shall Prosper. Each chapter is one part of a set of core principles that approach business and money as spiritual practices, referred to as the ‘Ten Commandments for Making Money.’ I’m reviewing the final ‘Commandment’ here, which completes my commitment to go over all ten. You can find out more in this post discussing my overall thoughts on the book. All quotes, unless otherwise attributed, come from the book.)

If  retirement is your goal, your entire drive will be deeply flawed. You will never create all you could have. However, if you view your creative, professional life as an exciting, ongoing process with no defined expiration date, you avoid limiting your potential.

This discussion can cause a substantial amount of trouble if not handled with care. The concept of retirement has become ingrained into our culture. Thanks to the Social Security system, a firm age has been set for what many consider the end of productive work and the start of the “good life.” Individual plans may vary slightly, but if you’re not ready, willing, and able to quit your job by the time Uncle Sam starts sending you regular checks, then our society generally thinks that you’re doing it wrong.

So, apart from the everyday joy from embracing weirdness, what do we gain by rejecting the idea of retiring? Even if you plan to work until you die, you should still be investing and growing your wealth. You should still be making plans for the next 5, or 10, or even 25 years of your life.  You don’t get to slack off just because you’ll be working as long as you’re able. Why not go ahead and just enjoy those last years? I’ll give you two reasons.

1. Work has to be more than just a means to an end. I’ve written about this a couple of times before. Suffice to say, the career we choose shouldn’t just be about the profits we’ll earn. It should provide us with a chance to live out a purpose, and it should fill us with joy. Every step we take along our career path should be one step closer to each one of us doing the work that is uniquely ours to be doing. If we succeed at that, having to stop should be a nightmare, not a dream.

2. Age alone doesn’t determine productivity.  It would be a mistake to overemphasize the importance of our physical ability to our talent to create. Expertise, experience and wisdom have disappeared from our workplaces too quickly, and have not been easily replaced. In an information based economy, we need people who can provide  knowledge to remain in the workforce longer. We also need people who are well connected to the people that they serve and care for, and that level of connection takes time. Don’t plan to deny others the benefit of your presence simply because you’ve achieved some magic number.

For the last time, here are some quotes from the book that stood out to me:

The reason that the belief in retirement as a life goal is so destructive is that it seems to form a kind of spiritual virus that infects all your thinking. […] If you visualize some day in your future when you will no longer “have to work,” you are subconsciously slowing down already.

Short-timer’s disease is a real thing, and I’ve seen (and been guilty of) it’s results far too often. It’s frightening to think that, by even considering an eventual date of departure, you infect yourself with an attitude that will negatively affect the quality of your work for years to come.

Dr. Donald Hensrud is the director of the Mayo Clinic Executive Health Program. He says, “Life revolves around relationships, and it shows in aging. People who maintain close relationships live longer and healthily. It may sound corny, but caring for others helps us care for ourselves.” […] Working productively means that you are caring for others.

[W]ork is chiefly about how other people will benefit from your efforts. It may be today or it maybe in the future, but engaging in work is a moral, benevolent, and caring thing to do.

We’ve come full circle back to the premises of the first two Commandments. Work is moral. It connects us to others. We should never stop.

A person’s real economic value is spiritual, not physical. You may have a certain economic value, which is to say a value to your fellow humans, as a ditch digger, but it is only a fraction of your real value.

What are you truly worth? How do you determine an accurate measurement of your contributions to the world around you?

Sustaining the retirement myth contributes to people mistakenly subscribing to the notion that humans are chiefly consumers rather than creators and that as such, the best way to run business affairs is to minimize the number of these consumers.

Never forget that we are all more than just mouths that need to be fed, and bodies that need to be sheltered. Each of us creates and builds more value into this world simply by existing.

And that’s my take on Rabbi Lapin’s Tenth Commandment for Making Money. Finally. This has been an interesting exercise, but I think I’ll keep my book reviews more restrained in the future.

If you’re new to this, take the time to the start from the beginning with my thoughts on Chapter One, Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions about this chapter, whether you’ve read the book or not. Thanks.


May 7, 2012 - Posted by | Read and Reviewed, Work and Money | , , , , , , , ,

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