Retirement should not be a death sentence. Rather, it should be the opportunity to re-invent yourself, do the things you have never done before but always secretly wished for, learn new things, travel, join new classes and the list goes on.
The first pre-requisite is to have a positive outlook on your new phase in life. This usually requires having a positive outlook on everything in your life.
Let me share with you two very different people I know and their responses to retirement.
Both retirees had very successful careers — money was not even an issue — and both had a loving family.
Yet one was forever miserable and burdensome while the other was full of life and looking at the opportunities ahead.
That's because one made the effort to enjoy every moment and continuously feel blessed while the other was always complaining or criticizing.
What are some of the factors that created these two different scenarios?
The one who we shall call Mark was very money-driven and materialistic-minded.
For Mark, the mark of success (pun intended) was how much money or “stuff” he had or was worth. It created a scarcity mentality, meaning if someone else had something, it meant that he had less. He, therefore, couldn’t share his wealth or his love.
His outlook in life was based on himself first and everyone else last.
By the time retirement came around, he was so attached to his business he couldn’t step away and had to be eventually forced out by his own kids. Mark also never cherished his family, so by the time he did have time on his hands, nobody was very interested in building a relationship with him.
He died with millions of unspent dollars in his account and in an estate that was eventually inherited by those he could have built a loving relationship with had he been less tight-fisted and more generous.
Contrast that with Barbara, who, while she was a very successful entrepreneur and worked hard to build a business, she never lost sight of her "raison d'etre" and showing how much she cared about the family and her community. If anything, it was others first, then herself.
She was very charitable and funded many community projects. She had many hobbies and was as content being involved in those projects as much as running her business. She had an abundance mentality, meaning if others were successful, she was happy for their success and was happiest when she could share with others.
She taught her family that having values was more important than money, and sharing with others was mandatory.
Her preparation for retirement was a series of taking long trips away from the business, empowering others to take on leadership roles, mentoring others to start and run their own businesses, and leaving a legacy of charity and love that memorialized her name to her family, friends and community members.
Rabbi Harold Kushner is popularly attributed for the quote "Nobody on their deathbed has ever said 'I wish I had spent more time at the office.'"
A family business CEO who has transitioned to the fifth generation shared with me their secret to success, which is based on some very key fundamental principles that perpetuate the family legacy.
1. Stewardship: The responsibility to maintain and enhance the assets for the next generation.
2. Service: The obligation to be of service to both the family and the community. It means always giving back to the community that was part of your success.
3. Charity: If ever the company — or even part of the company -- is sold, a certain percentage (40%) is put into a charitable foundation for future charity work.
If you are blessed with financial success, health, and the ability to have an impact on others, this is the greatest gift. Use it to the max. There are so many ways to be of service as a retiring family business owner. You can mentor young entrepreneurs or join SCORE, the Small Business Administration's mentoring service. You can teach or visit schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, etc. You can chime in on social media discussions on what you are an expert in (If you don’t know how, ask your child/grandchild/niece/nephew/next-door neighbor, etc.) or join a 55-plus community to get to know people who are in the same place in life as you are.
In what other ways could you make the rest of your life the best of your life?