The famous psychoanalyst Karl Jung once said: “A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning.” In other words, life has a meaning and purpose beyond work and career and child-rearing. Moreover, it’s not just about having enough money to live comfortably when you are no longer punching a time clock.
Sadly, most retirement preparation seminars talk only about preparing financially for retirement and say nothing about the emotional, physical and spiritual sides of this period of life. Retirement coach Janet Christensen says that “most people spend more time planning a two week vacation than they do planning for the years they will spend in retirement.”
Some people of course do very well in retirement. I have some retired friends who are remarkably resilient. My guess is that, even without knowing it, they have been unconsciously preparing for this period all their lives. They have developed interests and hobbies over and above their work that they can build on once they leave the workforce. They have lots of things about which they are deeply curious. They love to help others and find new ways to use their gifts and talents. What’s more: they have already diversified their interests and have not depended exclusively on their career or children to bring them life satisfaction and meaning. As Atlantic Monthly columnist and Harvard professor Arthur Brooks writes, these people know that the 10,000 hour rule may be the path to excellence, but unless you want to become a world famous concert pianist, you are probably far better to balance your vocation with several other interests. While the former may lead you to stardom, the latter has a better chance of guaranteeing your happiness.
The above notwithstanding, even for those of us who have tried to diversify our interests, retirement may still pose some challenges other than financial ones. Talking with other people about their experiences can help you to prepare well for this period, so that you are not thrown into a state of shock or even depression six months after you leave the job. Exploring some of the challenges that many folks do face in retirement can help you to consider what your growing edges will be and where and how you can learn from others and thereby build a more meaningful and healthy retirement.
To this end, I would like to invite you to join me for a Retirement series for clergy (and hopefully helpful for others too!), starting this coming Thursday afternoon, April 15th. We will meet over three Thursdays from 1:30p.m. to 2:45p.m.via Zoom. You can register at
I look forward to seeing you then!