Why should you look closely at what you do after you retire from your business? Isn’t that personal, with no connection to your business? It may seem so, but how you decide to spend your retirement years can be critically important to a fulfilling and rewarding next phase of your life. A key factor contributing to a long life is feeling that your life has meaning and purpose throughout its various stages.
Consider this. For decades, a significant part of the meaning and purpose in your life has come from your business. When that phase comes to an end, you must continue to find meaning and purpose in other ways.
There are two key reasons to include personal retirement planning alongside your business retirement planning:
- You have put as many as 20 to 40 years or more into building a business that has much value, both in what it has returned to you financially, and in its reflection of your values and the legacy you want to leave the world. When you retire, you want to have the good health and longevity to enjoy the fruits that legacy has returned to you.
- Your successor—especially if that is a daughter or son—most likely does not want you hanging around all day in what used to be your main arena because you don’t have any other way to spend your time! You can play golf or tennis or watch old “I Love Lucy” re-runs for only so long before you are looking for more purposeful things to do!
Research shows that you live a longer, healthier, more satisfying life when you have purpose, relationships, and a solid support network—along with the right diet and exercise, of course. You will enjoy your latter years far more when you are active, healthy, and have meaningful relationships with those you care about most.
The Blue Zones research sponsored by National Geographic in 2004 found five areas in the world where people live exceptionally long lives. For more on this, see Power 9®: Reverse Engineering Longevity for a quick summary or The Blue Zones, 2nd Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest for the full study. The five areas are Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia (Italy); Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.
The Blue Zones research project also found nine key factors contributing to a long, healthy, and rewarding life. These are reflected in the following diagram:
Image courtesy of Blue Zones, LLC (www.bluezones.com)
Each of these is described briefly below. Together they comprise an inter-related system of living that has contributed to some of the world’s longest-lived peoples.
Move Naturally (Moderate, regular physical activity): The world’s longest-lived people walk, ride bicycles, grow gardens and generally get their exercise from their normal daily activities. Of course, much of this results from where they live—Sardinia or a Greek Island for example—environments that support this lifestyle.
Purpose (Life purpose): A number of research studies have shown that having a sense of meaning and purpose to your life—being important to someone or something—can increase your life expectancy by many years.
Down Shift (Stress reduction): Having a way to reduce stress—meditation, for example, or a mid-day nap—can reduce chronic inflammation, which is associated with every major age-related disease.
80% Rule (Moderate caloric intake): How much you eat and when you eat it are every bit as important as what you eat. The centenarians in the Blue Zones study tended to eat their largest meals in the earlier part of the day and the smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening. And they didn’t overeat even at the larger meals of the day.
Plant Slant (Plant-based diet): While not totally vegetarian, most centenarian diets are primarily plant-based: beans, fruit, nuts, vegetables, plant oils such as olive oil. They may occasionally eat meat, but in small amounts usually.
Wine @ 5 (Moderate alcohol intake, especially wine): Except for Seventh Day Adventists (the one U.S-based Blue Zone), the centenarians in the study tended to consume one or two glasses of an alcoholic drink, in convivial settings usually with friends over a meal.
Belong (Engagement in spirituality or religion): Virtually all the centenarians interviewed in the Blue Zones study belonged to a faith-based community or embraced a spiritual practice. Denomination didn’t seem to matter.
Loved Ones First (Engagement in family life): To the centenarians, family is very important. Grandparents are engaged in the lives of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. And to the family, the elderly are treated with love and respect. Oftentimes, two and three generations might live under the same roof or at least in the same neighborhood.
Right Tribe (Engagement in social life): Social engagement with others over their lifetimes was a very important part of centenarians’ lives. People of all ages are socially active and integrated into their communities. There is a strong sense of support, belonging and self-worth.
Do you know how you will spend the many years remaining after you retire from your business? If not, I suggest that a good place for you to start your retirement planning is ReVivement®: Having a Life After Making a Living. In it, you will find many valuable suggestions that enable you to have a long and fulfilling life following the active business phase you are leaving behind.