By Joe Casey
A colleague, executive coaching client, and friend died two weeks ago. He was suddenly stricken with an illness, fought valiantly, but, sadly, died three months later.
One week before his retirement date.
One month before his 69th birthday.
His brother delivered the eulogy at his funeral and spoke about how he had been looking forward to being able to spend the whole summer at his beach house, for the first time in his life. He had bought a new convertible, parked right outside, to make the most of it. He had put his retirement off, several times.
Listening to the eulogy, you heard a story of a life well led. There was a clear arc from humble beginnings and through perseverance, life-long learning; professional success. Most of all, there were long-term commitments and relationships with family and friends. He was a devoted husband and father.
He had done things right in preparing for his retirement. He had planned, saved and invested wisely. And he was a man of purpose and conviction. He was not one who spoke about purpose, he was one who walked the talk. He had changed his career ten years ago at 58 from financial services to health care. In preparation, he had gone back to school and earned a Master’s degree in the field. He then went to work at a not-for-profit organization in the substance abuse rehabilitation field, an area that he was deeply passionate about.
If you follow Retirement Wisdom on Twitter, you know that we follow the literature on retirement closely. There’s no shortage of articles on longevity, working longer and even never retiring each week. Lots of stats and projections of increased life expectancy and longer careers.
We all know that there are no guarantees. But standing in the pouring rain at the funeral of a colleague, client and friend, I wonder why we sometimes need a reminder to return our focus to what matters most. At least, I do.
Joe Casey is an executive coach and retirement coach with Retirement Wisdom®.
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