May 16, 2016
Friends don’t let friends retire to leisure.
Just imagine the congratulatory endorsement at the company celebration of the long-term team member who is crossing the professional threshold from full-engagement to full-enjoyment. The living eulogy couldn’t go better than this: “You’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!”
Imagine hearing that counsel: with that announcement – at the conclusion of years spent creating value and demonstrating contribution – what will there be to get a person out of bed a month later, after the longest vacation of a lifetime?
Apparently, congratulations may not be in order. Instead of booking an appointment with their travel agent, the retirement newbie might be wiser to get a visit scheduled with their primary care physician. The latest research puts a scull-and-crossbones over the golf cart: delaying retirement may actually extend your life.
According to a study recently reported by the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, delaying retirement for just one year – from 65 to 66 – reduces mortality by 11%. In fact, the longer one waits to retire, the longer one lives.
A decade back, Shell Oil examined the fate of 3500 of their retirees, between 1973 and 2003, and published their findings in the British Medical Journal. Their methodology was simple: compare their employees who retired at 55 with those who waited until 65. The escapees in their mid-50’s were probably the envy of their coworkers who stayed in their cubicles for another decade. Which of the two groups were truly fortunate?
The shocker: people who retired at 55 were 89% more likely to die in their first decade of retirement than the people who waited until 65. When the survivors of early retirement were joined at age 65 with their later-retiring counterparts, their life expectancy going forward was still dissimilar: death rates for the survivors of early retirement were still 37% higher than their work-‘til-65 peers.
All of those studies focused on people whose retirement involved no re-engagement in meaningful work, whether for money or for meaning. If leisure was the new agenda, the price of sloth proved – statistically – to be earlier death.
That endorsement from the retirement party – “You’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!” – is actually straight out of the Bible.
Jesus: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, “Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!” ’
“Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods – who gets it?’ That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
Hear me clearly: respected researchers and journals are discovering that people are created to be productive, and God is not to be disregarded. Living productively – instead of for consumption – enhances vitality and vibrancy in a way that aligns with the Creators original intent.
What if the great objective of life is to create an impact that lasts forever, instead of amassing a retirement account that enables self-preoccupation that masquerades as “the time of your life?”