ikigai
Recently I was in my old hometown and enjoyed catching up with people I hadn’t seen for some time. Our conversations turned to our respective futures and I was shocked to hear how many people were looking forward to retirement. Not shocked that people are planning their retirement but shocked to their response to my question about what are they going to do on their retirement – their answer!! “Retire, rest and do nothing!!”

You must be joking!

We work hard all our life just to retire?? Give me a break!!
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Ever since German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck stated in 1898, “Those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state”, the Western world has focused on this concept of retirement when actually leave the workplace somewhere from 65 and upwards.

Ok, we may retire from work but we need to transition to life.

Why would you want to retire? We know, at least for men, within a certain period time from retiring, the possibility of death or a serious illness increases (within 3 years) and chance of developing depression increase by 40%?

Retiring – It sucks if you ask me!!

I am all for “putting up our feet and smelling the roses” but I don’t think that as an age based activity. I don’t think we go through all the challenges that this world throws at us, acquire all our knowledge, experience and wisdom just to forget all about.

No – we must transition from one role into another – whatever the role is. This process is a marvellous opportunity to use our experiences for the betterment of our friends and our world. But we must have a purpose.

I find the Okinawans people (located in the East China Sea) a fascinating case study. These men and women live an average of 7 years longer then other people in the world and have one of the longest disability free life expectancies in the world. Why is this so? Researchers tell us that it is due to things such as eating off smaller plates, eating to when they are 80% full and live in a beautifully connected social group, set up when they are babies so they slowly grow old together.

Critically they have an ikigai (pronounced “icky guy”) – a purpose – the reason for waking up in the morning.

What’s your ikigai? If you don’t have one, create it and use it to transition to your next stage of your life.

Once found, it will give you joy in your world – and you can use it for so many things – to be involved in the community, to mentor other people, to do some volunteer work – and to use your skills and wisdom in a way that contributes betterment to other people in your community and world.

So in preparing for your transition from one role to another, ask yourself the following questions;

• What is your purpose in life?
• What are the skills, experiences and wisdom that you have developed through your life and how can they be can contribute to other people’s world?
• What are you doing now to capture the experiences to allow you to transition into this new role?

Redefine the word retirement. It has nothing to do with age. It’s about contribution. It’s about transitioning to that stage of your journey where you use the wisdom of your lessons learnt to the betterment of this world.

None of us are going to get out of this life alive, so why don’t transition yourself to be able to make a difference.

So what’s your “icky guy”? Now where is my fishing rod?

Dennis J. Hoiberg is the founder of the niche consulting group Lessons Learnt Consulting. He is an author, blogger, and popular contributor to radio segments through regional, rural and remote Australia. Dennis’s recent book “The White Knuckled ride – Techniques to Bounce Forward and Thrive through Change” is a popular resource for many people wishing to enhance and sustain their wellbeing.
He also authors the highly popular Lessons Learnt News, a compilation of wellbeing and resilience articles from around the globe. This is available through following Dennis on Facebook.
Lessons Learnt Consulting assists individuals, families, organisations and communities thrive through change. The company provides coaching services, training programs, community presentations and personal development retreats throughout Australia and overseas. Follow him on twitter @dennishoiberg and facebook.com/dennishoiberg.