The Big Deal for Retired Blokes.
There is one thing that bothers many retired men. It seems that when you retire from a busy life, a hole develops in your life. You feel hemmed in by the very freedom you once saw as the big advantage of being retired.
Before you retired, you probably looked forward to having all the time in the world to do, or not do, whatever you liked. Of course, some blokes actually fear retirement and begin to feel this issue before they retire. They realise they will face considerable loss in their life without the structure that work brings to us. So why do we feel that way? Why is it so difficult to face a life without work?
The Preacher said…
Last Sunday the preacher took as his subject “Work”. Now I’ve heard a few sermons on that topic over the years and most have been in the context of “don’t make your work the sole focus in life” or “make sure you leave room for other important things as well as work”. And in many ways I agree with that sentiment. I’ve seen too many blokes get towards the end of their life and regret the time they spent pursuing money and a career and they often end up very lonely and very lost. But this Sunday the message was different.
You were Designed to Work.
Along the way the preacher quoted Genesis 2:15. That particular verse is within the story of the garden of Eden. If you aren’t familiar with that story let me summarise it for you. God made the world and then decided to set aside a special garden called “Eden.” Within that garden He caused all kinds of fruiting trees and plants to grow. Then he made man and set him up in the garden. Genesis 2:15 says “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Did you get that? Here in a perfect world where Adam had everything he needed God put him there to work! So if thats true, it’s saying that God planned work to be part of our purpose on earth. Work therefore is a very important part of who we are! It’s part of what we were created for.
Of course the story goes on to talk about how we decided to ignore God’s advice and do our own thing. As a result we walked straight out of God’s perfect world and into the world as we know it, with all the problems we face today. One of those problems is for many people work became meaningless work and drudgery.
God Works Too
To add to that thought, the bible also says we are created in “the image of God.” So therefore we have the characteristics of God himself. Since we are also told God himself works, one of the characteristics we have inherited, is a need to work.
That Lost Feeling
On the other hand, there are few things sadder than unemployment and stagnation. We don’t like it. When we don’t have work, our purpose in life fades and we feel flat. We feel we are missing something. We feel lost.
I’m sure you’ve met at least one retired man who spends his time sitting in front of a television set watching sports. Maybe there was a time in his life when he was all fired up with bright plans for the future and strong yearnings that he was going to make his mark on this world. Maybe he planned to have a great retirement exploring the world or doing things he had put off because of his work, for so long.
But somewhere along the line all the fire went out of him, and he settled for comfort. His dreams were sacrificed to a La-Z-Boy and flickering images on a screen. He is the story of unrealised potential, and he could go to his grave with his best music unplayed. He could miss out on the best years of his life and see them sacrificed on the altar of comfort. So how do you make sure this is not your story?
It’s Your Choice.
This is the fork in the road. One way leads to up to a better life and achieving the things you were designed to achieve and the other leads nowhere. One way leads to the development of your God-given gifts and personality. It means reaching new levels of maturity, and in your older years, discovering your life is not over.
You see, if you are still breathing, God has some plans for you to achieve. It may be hard to do and may involve some sacrifice and effort. But, I’ll guarantee that when you look back on your life, the things you remember best and the times where there was most positive change, all involved some pain. Whether it was the pain of exams, or physical training or the pain of breaking off a hurtful relationship or whatever. There will be no gain without pain.
So where do you begin if you want to find something significant to do with your life? You could begin with the many articles on this website. After all, this website is designed to address this exact issue in the lives of retired men. Theres a lot to choose from, and some are listed on the right hand side. Choose one or two or more of them and read them carefully. They might just be exactly what you are looking for!
Rediscovering Your Life – Step 1.
Maybe you should also do an online, Myer Briggs personality test. There’s lots of them online, but try and get the most detailed one you can rather than the “four questions that tell you who you are type”. Heres one with 90 questions:-
When you are finished, you will be presented with a 5 letter code – something like ESTP – A or INFP – A. Ignoring the last letter, the first 4 are the standard Meyer Briggs codes that tell you something about yourself – the things you like and the way you best operate. Next look up that personality type in a guide to what it means and determine what it says about the thing you like to do. Something like the book “Do What You Are” by Tiger and Barron. Sure that book is focused on your work life or career but it has sections about the way you prefer to live your life. For example, in the INTP description it says people in this category like anything that “lets me focus my attention and energy on a creative, theoretical and logical process rather than a end product.”* So maybe designing new ways to make stuff out of wood at the local mens shed, could be for you, rather than actually making things. If you can’t find the book, add a comment to this article and give me your personality type code and your email address and we will discuss the things you could get involved in.
Once you have decided the way you like to live your life, you should make changes to what you do. In retirement you have more freedom than at any other time in your life. So use that freedom to discover more about who you are and do things that fit with your personality. Maybe you will become a human being instead of a human doing!
Deep down you need to be involved in something that has significant and something that will contribute to a higher purpose in this life. so the next step is to figure out what your purpose in life is. I’m planning to discuss the next steps in that process on this website in the next few weeks! So come back next week and see what’s next!
* Tiger, Paul D and Barron, Barbara. “Do What You Are” 4th edition. New York: Little, Brown and Company, Hatchet Book Group. Published 2007. Page 219