Four reasons why today’s retirees may live longer. And four great ways to respond. Posted on April 1, 2019April 4, 2019 by Peter Meadows Have you’ve reached your ‘after-work’ years, or are heading towards them? Then you have something to especially celebrate. More than any previous generation you are likely to be healthier, fitter, and have more years of life ahead of you. Who or what do we thank for this? I suggest you should give a big hand to the top 4 – Medical science: The latest drugs and surgical procedures mean far more conditions – chronic and otherwise – can be managed or treated. Meanwhile, new approaches to heart disease have lengthened lives and improved their quality. Workplace changes: Changing employment patterns have brought less manual work – with its toll on bodies and health – longer holidays and better working conditions. Health and safety legislation, although it can be a pain sometimes, has also played its part. Health education: Campaigns flagging ‘low fat’, ‘watch your cholesterol’ and ‘eat five a day’, ‘take some exercise’, have been streaming at us for a decade or more. And have made an impact. Wiser living: We now know that smoking doesn’t promote health and a belly-buster fry up is not necessarily the best way to start the day. To get a bigger picture of why you may enjoy a longer and healthier life see the AfterWorkNet web page here. Making the most of it These four reasons show why your life in retirement is likely to offer far more than it did for our parents’ generation. Not always or for everyone. But more likely. So what are the opportunities this opens up? A few extra years of self-centred indulgence? Or something more fulfilling. Here are what I think are four great ways to respond – Enjoy without guilt: This new season ought to be enjoyed and not endured. However, for the spiritually inclined, it can be that ‘guilty pleasure’ and ‘simple common or garden pleasure’ are one and the same thing. Is it really okay to have this much enjoyment when it doesn’t involve something overtly God-centred? Thoughts like this, rumbling deep down in someone’s subconscious, can rob them of the riches on offer. Which is why we need to relish St Paul’s words to the young Timothy, about the need to put our hope in God who ‘richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment’. (1 Timothy 6:17). Fun, relaxation and pleasure are all part of the riches of God’s creation – to be embraced without guilt. So enjoy. Pace yourself: For those who can enter their retirement years with a soft and gradual landing this might not be so much of an issue. But there’s an extra challenge for those who reach their after-work moment in the same way a train can hit the crash barriers. For them it may be wise to see this new season as a series of mini-seasons. These could include an initial breather to enjoy the change. Then a period to ease into the new era. Next a ‘go for it’ season, to make the most of the time and health at hand. Then the slowing down as ‘young old’ becomes ‘old old’. Make a plan: These are precious years that deserve some thought as to what they can deliver and with a plan to make it so. And one of the great dangers of moving into an unstructured and ‘every day is a Saturday’ era is time can just slip by. Setting priorities, and defining what is hoped to be experienced and achieved, may not be the first thing to do. But it ought to be done at some point after settling in to life after work. No two plans will be the same. No two bucket lists will be identical. But do make sure you have yours – with some things you’d like to look back on in a few years’ time with gratitude and satisfaction. Explore opportunities: Unlike past generations, there’s the opportunity try new things, develop new interests and skills, and have new experiences. These can be for your own enrichment or for the good of others. Or, ideally, both. To explore 10 interesting and varied options, see the AfterWorkNet web page New Challenges. Keep God’s kingdom in focus: As the curtain goes up, and you become an ‘actor’ in the great drama of retirement, the prompters words from the wings are likely to be ‘this is your time now’, and ‘you are worth it’. But there’s a need to be listening to another voice. The one that we hope will one day say ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’. There may be a host of factors – medical and otherwise – that have ushered in a longer and heathier life. But ultimately, every year – indeed, every breath – is a gift from the God who made us and loves us. Whatever your plans, don’t miss the opportunity to line them up with being an answer to that prayer you so often pray, ‘Your kingdom come’. To explore what that means, explore the AfterWorkNet web pages under Serving. Peter Meadows What do you do for fun? Share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s using his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.