Retirement: The Question of “Why?” 

When I googled “why retire?”, I came across an article from “Senior Lifestyle” that outlined the 7 top reasons to retire. Here are the headlines: 

  • You’re all set  
  • Improve your health 
  • Enjoy the good life and start living your dreams 
  • Avoid unforeseen changes 
  • Spend more time with family and friends 
  • Time to give back or pursue your passion 
  • Value your time 

While I thought some of the content was interesting and useful to consider, I believe a better answer to “why retire” comes from considering the work of Simon Sinek, noted author and speaker. He developed a model he calls the Golden Circle and suggests you start with “why” to inspire action within your organization. I subscribe to this model and believe its fundamental premise also applies to us as individuals as we consider this question of “why retire.” 

Here’s a quick sketch of Sinek’s model –

As you can see, the circle works from the inside out to answer the why, how, and what.

How Can We Apply This?

So, what’s the application to us as individuals? I believe the “why retire” question is primarily answered by determining the purpose God has for each of us at every season of our lives. If we are clear on our “why”, then the “when” becomes much clearer to us.   

Scripture tells us our “why” broadly, in several places. Here are a few: 

  • Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” 
  • Proverbs 20:5 “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” 
  • Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

Richard Leider, noted author on the topic of purpose, gets into specifics on figuring out your purpose in retirement. In his most recent book, “Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Old?”, he shares three places to start the process of determining your own specific purpose, or “why you get out of bed in the morning.”: 

  1. Describe the finest chapter in your life thus far. What made it the finest? How can you manifest those qualities in your next chapter? 
  1. Ask yourself, “How can I grow and give?” Review your calendar. Make regular appointments with yourself to grow and to give. 
  1. Who is your aging exemplar and why do you admire this person? What qualities of growing old does he or she embody? 
  1. If there’s something you love to do — write, solve technical problems or cook — that is likely one of the gifts you need for your purpose. When you combine that gift with your passions and values, that can be an indicator of your purpose. 

Take Time to Invest in Your “Why”

As you can see from this blog so far, there’s not a recipe, formula, or equation for each of us to determine our “why.” At Crossroads Career, we have also developed a workbook entitled, “Hear God Calling You” to support a Biblical worldview process filter applied to the human wisdom both Sinek and Leider have to share. You can see that workbook HERE. We also have Crossroads Guides who can assist you in thinking through the opportunities available to you. 

Our “why” is critically important, yet few people actually invest some time to thoughtfully consider God’s overarching and specific purpose for each of us to advance His Kingdom here on earth. Let’s get to it! Blessings! 

Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.

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