Refire, Not Retire

May 26, 2017 1 Min Read



Retirement is the perfect phase to re-energise and give back?


Seeing elephants in the wild remains a huge privilege and capturing them in a photo is something special. On a recent trip to a game reserve, we were lucky enough to come across a very large lone elephant bull.

The bull was in musth – meaning he was primed to mate. As a result, he was potentially very aggressive and dangerous. For this reason, we made sure we stayed out of his way and out of his path.

As the tusker turned to amble away from us, the sun rose behind him, bathing him in a flood of golden light. It was an incredible experience, which had literally unfolded as we sat in silence, quietly observing.

Purposefully using the variables around us such as the time of day, the light, objects and correct positioning, one has all the ingredients for a great wildlife or landscape photo.

Taking the time, making the effort and spending many hours practising prepares the way for that perfect moment when things seem to fall into place and the magic happens.

I often hear of long serving employees entering into their “sunset assignments”. Usually it refers to that last assignment or position before retirement.

This might interest you: A Silver Lining In The Gray Clouds

Personally, I am not very fond of such a term as it sounds like the end is near and it is a fast track downhill from here.

We spend many years in our careers, working hard and gaining a lot of life lessons. Some lessons teach us more than others. As we get older we get wiser and find ways to effectively apply our knowledge and learning for both our own and other people’s benefit.

In their book – Refire! Don’t Retire, Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life – Ken Blanchard and Morton Shaevitz say that at this stage of our life, we should focus on significance as well as success.

In this context, significance has three aspects: generosity, service and loving relationships. Additionally, refiring (rather than retiring) means recharging yourself, being enthusiastic, taking risks and facing life with zest.

The refiring philosophy addresses the heart, head, body and soul to reinvigorate the emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual dimensions of our life.

Rather than refusing to let go, is this not an opportunity for us to make a conscious decision to reciprocate and give back to others? It is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

People entering into their “sunset assignment” should think about doing the following:


1. Put your experiences to good use

People at this point in their lives have put in a lot of practice and effort, and gained a lot of experience. Some things worked out well, others invariably not so well. Put your experiences to good use. Go do what you love doing, you have all the experience you will ever need.


2. Give back

Now is the time to give back – to yourself, your community and the younger generation. Mentorship and coaching are incredibly rewarding tools to help others on their way.

Watch this video and see how you shouldn’t stop learning even as you age:


3. Stay active

Staying active means active for body, mind and soul. Read, learn, and find new things to study and to think about. Keeping physically active provides energy and longevity and does wonders for a general sense of well- being.

Just as the old bull walks off into the sunset, new horizons open up. There are new places to go to and new experiences waiting. The “sunset assignment” is about to become the next “sunrise assignment!”

Read also: Mind Over Matter

Look at this time in your life as a new beginning rather than the end of a chapter. Set yourself up on a path of huge opportunity and rewarding work. You will never regret this.

After all, this evening’s sunset is tomorrow’s sunrise.

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Tags: Hard Talk, Values

Anton van der Walt is the author of two books The Transformational Leader and Leadership Through My Lens. He has spent more than 20 years working in corporate positions across the globe. “How people work with people” is the driving force behind a lot of Anton’s thinking and teaching. He is passionate about inspiring people and guiding business leaders to best develop themselves, their teams and the business.

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