Following Through With Retirement

5 Minute Read

Many people dream their entire lives about the day when they can finally kick back and relax—retirement! Dave’s friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin has an extremely different outlook on retirement. Read this excerpt from Lapin’s Thou Shall Prosper, one of Dave’s favorite business books, as he reveals the destructive aspects of retirement.

"Think about retirement in terms of a golf analogy. Suppose you are being taught to play. Surely the goal of all your hard work and training is that instant when the head of the golf club strikes the ball and sends it hurtling on its way to the green. At the moment you hear that satisfying crack and watch the ball sailing down the fairway, you suspect that your work is done. Yet this is not true. Although the ball is well on its way, you should still be focused on finishing your swing with a perfect follow-through.

"Like most people, you may wonder why the follow-through is important because you have already hit the ball. Nothing you do either well or badly during the follow-through is going to change the trajectory of your ball. The answer, paradoxically, is that if you view the moment when the club strikes the ball as your final goal, your drive will be deeply flawed. However, if you view the club striking the ball as an event on your way to the final goal of a complete swing and perfect follow-through, even without looking, you know that you’ve hit it perfectly down the middle of the fairway. If retirement is your goal, your entire drive will be deeply flawed. You will never create all you could have. However, if you view your creative, professional life as an exciting, ongoing process with no defined expiration date, you avoid limiting your potential.


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"Here’s another analogy. Imagine you are trying to punch the nose of an assailant who thought he’d picked an easy victim. The important thing to remember is this: Visualize your fist’s target area as being about nine inches behind your opponent’s nose. If you view his nose itself as the target, your mind is already instructing your fist to start slowing down as it reaches the general area of your enemy’s proboscis. However, if you view his nose as an obstacle on your fist’s journey to its target, your fist will still be moving at maximum velocity when it strikes his nose.

"Picture an Olympic sprinter as she wins the gold medal. Does she come to a dead stop the moment she breaks through the finish tape? Of course not; she only starts to slow down once she’s through the finish line. In fact, she doesn’t see the finish line as the end of her run. You should not see a retirement date as your finish line. Banish the entire idea from your mind."

Beliefs Over Facts

"Beliefs shape one’s actions far more than facts do. People who give up smoking rarely do so because they discover a new fact. Hardly anyone says to himself, “Wow! I had no idea that smoking cigarettes was unhealthy. Now that I have discovered this shocking information, I had better eliminate my habit of smoking two boxes a day.” No, usually people stop smoking because of a changed belief. For instance, if a woman visits her doctor and is subjected to a real health scare, she might stop smoking. However, she ended her habit not because of new information, but because of a change in her belief. Hitherto, she considered herself personally immune to the deleterious effects of smoking. Now she believes that she could become a victim of her imprudence. This is why the things that people believe have far more impact on their lives than the things that they merely know as facts.

"The reason that the belief in retirement as a life goal is so destructive is that it seems to form a kind of spiritual virus that infects all your thinking. The thought of retiring becomes a distorting lens that corrupts your view of the world around you and misleads you into missteps.

"If you visualize some day in your future when you will no longer “have to work,” you are subconsciously slowing down already. If your goal is to reach a certain age and then retire, by the time you reach that age, your wealth will be far less than it would have been if you had reached that age with no thoughts of retirement in mind.

"The traditional Jewish contempt for retirement is an important factor in Jewish economic success. Do some Jews retire? Of course they do, but seldom as part of a life plan that mandated retirement at some predetermined date. In many cases, they sold a business or came into a large sum of money and found themselves out of work. Some wisely reentered business, whereas others became idle and deteriorated. If you are working now, I say plan on never retiring. If you are currently retired, I say put down this book until you have found a job for yourself or created one. Then come back and finish this chapter."

Excerpted from Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money 2nd edition by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Copyright (2010) by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Published by John Wiley & Sons. Used with permission.

Get your copy of Thou Shall Prosper to find out what Rabbi Lapin suggests to increase your vocabulary and improve your public-speaking skills.

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