Are You Sure You Want To Retire?

DR JOHN DEMARTINI   -   Updated 10 months ago

Dr Demartini discusses common challenges many people face when retiring, and a different perspective on retirement that may both surprise and inspire you.


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DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 10 months ago

I find the concept of retirement to be quite fascinating, especially around the common belief and practice of retiring at the age of 60 - 65.

If you look back in history to see where this retirement age originated, you could argue that it was the result of the need for social health care benefits and retirement income and political decisions around mass unemployment in the 1930s after the stock market crash. 

Essentially, F. D. Roosevelt and other politicians came up with a plan to try to assist the elderly with income and health insurance and get as many unemployed youth off the streets, which required more jobs becoming available. As such, getting people to retire at 65 in order to free up some jobs for younger adults became the norm, and social security and pension schemes were created. 

At the time, the age expectancy of the average individual was a bit lower 61-63 for men and women; so a few years of retirement seemed like a potentially wise move. As the average life expectancy increased and people began living into their 70s, 80s and 90s, this became more challenging from a financial perspective, not to mention deciding how to spend 20+ years following retirement with very little meaning and purpose.

The research around what happens when people retire is equally fascinating. 

In many cases, the aging process can accelerate when people retire, with a significant number of individuals dying as fast as 18 months post-retirement.

I often say that those who have a clear and defined purpose in life - something they are intrinsically inspired do, that contributes and makes a difference, and who keep their bodies and minds active, tend to live longer, healthier vitalized and fulfilled lives than those who don’t. 

As an example, I regularly meet business leaders, entrepreneurs, authors, speakers and performers who are still working and adding value to others into their 70s, 80s and 90s. So, why haven’t they retired? And why might you be thinking about retiring at the age of 65 (or sooner, if you can afford to?)

For me, a wise place to start is to look at your current job. 

  1. Are you doing something that inspires you; or 
  2. Is it more accurate to say that you tend to count the days until your next weekend, vacation, or until retirement?
  3. Do you work to earn an income so you can pay the bills; or
  4. Is it more accurate to say that you work because you do what you love and love what you do, regardless of what day of the week it is?

If, like the majority of people, you work mostly to earn a living, is that really how you want to live your life? 

When you're doing something that's so meaningful, so inspiring, and something you love doing without needing external motivation to get it done, you tend not to think about taking a break. I've been teaching, researching, and writing for 50 years and I don’t have thoughts about wanting to take a vacation from my work. Like for Warren Buffet or Charlie Munger they are still inspired to work at what they both feel is meaningful and inspiring at 91 and 98.

I love teaching and will likely continue to do it seven days a week for the next few decades because it’s what I intrinsically value most and love doing more than anything else in my life.

For you, it’s likely to be something completely different but the principle and underlying questions remain the same: What is it that you spontaneously do on a daily basis? Are you doing something you love to do? Or are you doing something you perceive that you “have” to do?

There is a scale in life. The top of the scale would be something you LOVE to do. Underneath that would be what you CHOOSE to do, then what you DESIRE to do, what you WANT to do, then what you perceive you Need to do, SHOULD do, OUGHT to do, are SUPPOSED to do, GOT to do, Have to do, and MUST do. That's the lowest level, and where you are likely to have the most friction and resistance and feelings of not wanting to go to work. This is in direct contrast to the highest level when you are inspired and love to go to work.

You can often hear this in the workplace when you listen to the words that your colleagues (and maybe even yourself) use throughout the day. 

At times you will hear, “I should go do this” or “I have to go do that”, and at other times, “I get to do this” or “I can’t wait to do that”.

The former are employees who likely want to take frequent breaks, while the latter will tend to lose track of time instead of clock-watching until it’s time to go home.

It’s also interesting to read the research on what happens physically to people who work a 16 or 18-hour day doing something they love to do. In essence, there tends to be no resulting inflammatory response. 

The cytokines in their immune system are often stable, their heart rate doesn’t become elevated, and their bodies show little to no signs of distress. Instead, the “healthy” type of stress, known as eustress, is invigorating for them.

However, people working the same hours doing work they perceive they HAVE to, GOT to, or MUST do, often show a resulting increased inflammatory response. In these cases, their pro- or anti- inflammatory cytokines tend to be elevated because they're distressed, which tends to run their immune system down and negatively affect their cardiovascular system. 

You have two options when it comes to your job. You can either go and do something you really love to do and delegate lower-priority tasks to others, or you can take the job you have and link how those job responsibilities are helping you fulfill what you most value in life so that you have meaning in it

I've helped thousands of people who were uninspired in their jobs identify what they truly value in life, and how their job description is helping them achieve that. As a result, they become more present, engaged, and more inspired by their work. 

It’s a process I do early on in my two-day signature seminar, the Breakthrough Experience, that I run most every week either online or in various countries around the world. 

I help people work through the Value Determination Process so they can identify what their life already demonstrates as being most important to them. 

Once they are clear on their unique hierarchy of values – mine, for example, are teaching, researching and writing – they can begin aligning their work and daily lives so they are congruent with those intrinsic highest values.

The results are that they tend to stop looking for sugar and caffeine highs to keep them awake, and instant gratification and quick fixes to compensate for their lack of fulfillment.

If this resonates with you, you may be asking the question: HOW? How do you move away from a day-to-day job or work life that you can’t wait to escape from and retire from and move towards something you can’t wait to do every day?

My answer is to join me at the Breakthrough Experience, it’s a powerful 2-day seminar that will transform your life. You’ll learn powerful tools you’ll be able to use for the rest of your life. The investment in yourself will pay dividends for the rest of your days. 

If you’d love to start with a few quality questions I believe wise to ask yourself, the use the ones I’ve outlined below, because the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself:

  1. What is it that I would absolutely love to do? 
  2. How do I get beautifully and handsomely paid to do it? 
  3. What are the highest priority action steps I can do today to make it happen? 
  4. What obstacles might I run into and how do I solve them in advance? 
  5. What worked and what didn't work today? 
  6. How do I do it more effectively and efficiently tomorrow? 
  7. No matter what happened today, how is it helping me get what I want in life? 

As I mentioned earlier, another valuable starting point is identifying your unique set of highest values. When you attend the Breakthrough Experience I’ll help you work through the process, or you can visit my website and work step by step through the 13 questions that will help you identify them.

This, in itself, could be the most valuable investment of your time.

Once you have identified your highest most intrinsic values, you can begin organizing and prioritizing your life around those values. 

In my case, as an example, that would involve prioritizing time to teach, research and write, and delegating my lower value tasks to others where possible. 

In your case, it might be prioritizing time to strategize, spend time with your family, or training for an outdoor endurance event.

I cannot emphasize this enough: if you haven't prioritized and organized your life so you can spend the majority of your time doing something you really love to do, then now might be a wise time to do that.

If you live your life in such a way that you can’t wait to get up every morning and pursue your life’s mission and purpose, you may not even CONSIDER retiring – not because you lack financial independence, but because you have no desire to escape from or retire from the magnificence of your life.

I’m almost 70 years old and I’m still working, not because I need the money but because I love what I do. 

I think that’s what real financial independence is – getting to do what you love to do without needing the resulting income. 

Think of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos – they certainly don’t have to work yet they’re still hard at work almost each and every day. 

It also means they’re keeping their minds and bodies active, so they don’t experience the resulting entropy that tends to follow those who retire without a plan to fill each day with meaning. 

As I often say, “If you don't have something to live for, you have something to die for.”

And I've seen it - I've seen people literally decay in front of me once they retire and perceive they have nothing to live for. 

One example that comes to mind is a gentleman who ran a major railroad company in America, who sold his company and retired around the age of 65. In the following months and years, I watched him gain weight, start drinking more, and treat his wife a little more roughly. 

He became a different human being once he had moved from an inspired life where he lived by priority to a life with very little meaning, contribution to people outside of himself, and almost zero fulfillment.

So my advice is:  if you're going to retire, have something meaningful that is waiting for you as your next step. 

In other words, don’t just retire FROM something but instead ensure that you retire TO something.

Think about the times when you've been the most engaged, inspired, and fulfilled. Those days when you’re doing something you love to do and the day zips past because you’ve lost track of time. Think about the times when you have felt the most fulfilled and grateful because you’ve made a difference in the lives of others.

That's what I'm interested in helping people do. I want them to be fulfilled in life. 

I want YOU to be so fulfilled in life that you’re not counting down the days to your next weekend, vacation or until you can retire and finally escape from your working life on a permanent basis.

You really can live an extraordinary life, and you don’t need to settle for anything less.

To sum up: 

If you would love to retire, it is wise to have a meaningful next step and the next chapter ready to go – one that is inspiring and something you can’t wait to wake up each day and do.

It is wise to make sure that you invest in yourself economically so you can go and spend your days doing something you love instead of settling for a retirement filled with mediocrity, decay and entropy.

If you would love my help with that, I would love to see you at the next Breakthrough Experience

I'm certain that what I teach you there will help you make that jump from a life of mediocrity to a life where you do something extraordinary that is inspiring and meaningful to you, while also providing a handsome income.

It is wise not to subordinate to the world out there and to instead design your life from within. When the voice and the vision on the inside is louder than all opinions on the outside, you begin to master your life. 

Times passes more quickly than you may realize. 

It is wise to master plan your life because those that fail to plan, plan to fail.

Give yourself permission to take command of your life now and so you can live a long, prosperous, meaningful, vitalized and fulfilling life in the future. 


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