On May 6, I turned 75 years old. In today’s society, most people would be retired at 75—or at least thinking about it.
But did you know that the very practice of retirement was designed for the industrial world? During that era, people were physically tired by the time they reached 65 and needed to rest.
Things are different now—we have more options. My goal in life is to be a loving teacher of simple truths. I’ve always searched for methods to improve the skills of leaders and to communicate those methods in a way that makes it easy for people to understand and practice. That doesn’t make me tired—it refuels me. So, I’m adopting a different approach. I’m focusing on an attitude of refirement instead of retirement.
I first heard this word from Zig Ziglar, the great American author and motivator. When he would run into friends who hadn’t seen him for a while, they would ask if he had retired. He always answered this question the same way. “There’s no mention of retirement in the Bible. Except for Jesus, Mary and Joseph, David, and a few others, nobody under 80 made an impact. I’m not retiring, I’m refiring! I’m not gonna ease up, let up, shut up or give up until I’m taken up. As a matter of fact, I’m just getting warmed up!” Zig lived his life that way until his death in the fall of 2012.
Norman Vincent Peale was another of my mentors who helped shape this idea. When I first met Norman, he was eighty-six years old. What most amazed me about him was that he was excited about every single day. Why? He couldn’t wait to find out what he might learn. He often said, “When I stop learning, I might as well lie down because I will be dead.” He was learning right up until he passed away at age ninety-five.
Learning is more important today than it’s ever been. In the past, if people were loyal to their company and worked hard, their job was secure. Today, the skills you bring to the party constitute the only available form of job security. People who are continually learning and upgrading their skills increase their value—not only in their organization, but also in the overall job market.
So don’t count the days until you retire. Start refiring now and look for new ways to rekindle, reinvigorate, and recharge your relationship with others. I guarantee you’ll have plenty to celebrate each and every day.