Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writing Career: Retiring With a Purpose

As I look out the window in front of me, a small and very still lake is quietly moving towards the outlet several miles away. Lily pads with balls of white flowers still remain on this fall day; the geese have left the lake for their morning travels; and a light mist which was over the lake since daybreak is slowly lifting. Tucked into a secluded portion of the Adirondacks in New York State, this retreat seems the perfect place to begin my retirement.

My wife and I arrived here on Saturday; it is now five days later and I have just finished some final work for my employer of twelve years. The remainder of this month will be paid vacation. Next month I start collecting Social Security retirement.

The Failing Social Security System
In a sense, I am very content with knowing that I will receive Social Security. I paid into that system and now I can start receiving that benefit. By withdrawing money from my 401-K and other investments, I should be able to keep the same standard of living that I maintained while I was working. All this is good.

My body is healthy and my mind is still reasonably sharp (ask my wife about that: "Where did I put the xxx?"), so I should be able to continue to contribute in some way. For me, I intend to be a full time self-published Christian author. That will be my contribution or if you will my purpose.

I can certainly see where there is a temptation for newly retired people to seek a new lifestyle: some form of volunteer work, the projects around the home that have been left for many years, the development of relationships with other seniors, the yearning to tell others about Jesus, and of course the enjoyment of our grandchildren.

If there was less money available in the Social Security system, as there will be for those who are younger, more may be required. Rather than transitioning from full-time work to full retirement, it may be necessary to work on a part-time basis. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT? Most of us that are newly retired can still contribute in some way. As our bodies and minds continue to break down, this will become less and less feasible. Eventually that would mean full retirement, but it is not necessary at the normal retirement age.

Not all people are well-suited for self-employment; it takes a certain entrepreneurial spirit to be able to succeed at that. On the other hand, our society must adjust to having small jobs that men and women in semi-retirement can move to. These would be potentially less stressful as well as lower paying jobs. Yet they could provide the necessary income to counter the reduced Social Security payments.

Most importantly, semi-retired and retired people need a purpose. While employed in some way, our contribution was our purpose. Without a purpose, depression and physical illnesses can develop. By being active, we get to fulfill our reason for being here.

Most importantly, we should be asking God at this stage, "What do you want me to do?" His purpose, whether it is writing or telling Bible stories to our grandchildren, should become our reason for being here.

Therefore, the failing Social Security system is not something to be feared or to make us apprehensive. Rather it is an opportunity to help us fulfill God's purpose in our lives.