There seems to be a noticable lack of joy in many retired individuals – not all of course, but sadly more than I imagined.  I think many people would describe “joy” as delight or some kind of emotional sensation that follows some event, like winning a lottery.  I think joy has more to do with being aligned with your unique purpose, rather than some sense of gratifcation or satisfaction.  It’s alot like putting on your favorite pair of slippes – there’s no rush of excitement or delight – it’s natural.  Someone once said it’s like breathing.

We’ve got four grandchildren – now they know joy!  Somehow, people lose thier joy along the way.  Some burn out.  Others work so hard they are too exhausted to feel anything.  And then when people retire, they don’t replace thier work with something else, resulting in a feeling of lack of involvement that eventually leads to feeling useless, no matter what they were doing in the past.

I have a client who is an extremely successful VP for a large industrial firm.  Earlier in the year he had what many would call “fame and fortune” –  he’s used to doing things and finds it hard to stop.  He has built a habit of achievement that will be hard to break when he retires in three short months.  We were having coffee not too long ago and I asked him what brings him joy.  He stared at me for a long time, sipped a bit of coffee, sighed and was unable to respond, so our conversation turned to how well his company had done during a very difficult year.  He is indeed a remarkable business man, but I worry about what his life will look like over the next 20-30 years.

I was recently reading about 36 men who sold their businesses for over 5 milion dollars before the age of 50.  Thirty three of them had divorced within two years of the sale.  They were all struggling with feeling of self worth and a serious lack of joy.

Life after “retirement” should be free of the stresses we endure during our working lives.  Then we need to undertake meaningful work that benefits others to feel real and lasting joy.

What brings you joy?

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