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Retirement is coming. How do you make yours a good one?

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Not long ago, the company I founded, Berkshire Global Advisors, celebrated 40 years in existence. It was a joyful and fun-filled evening atop a Manhattan tower with old friends, colleagues, and clients taking an unforgettable trip down memory lane.

Though I am not involved daily anymore, I care deeply about the organization. It is also a growing family, some with children out of college and others still raising their kids. I realized as I watched the video created for the event that our work had a lasting strategic impact on our clients and could even lead to a future centennial celebration. Very gratifying, indeed.

But what about the present? What kind of impact can I have today? I’m 79 now, going on 80, with conventional wisdom whispering that I should take it easy and rest on my laurels. But I hesitate to do that for many reasons.  

For one, I have been blessed with good health. I still cycle, walk often, and watch my diet. I stay mentally sharp by journaling daily and writing poetry, some of which have been published. I wrote a memoir, I’m conserving land, building trails, and trying to develop some of it prudently where two rivers converge at my country home. All these activities seem to require that I keep going and do what I can to leave the world better than when I found it.

If you are reading this, you are most likely retired or pondering retirement. In the years you and I spent on our careers, the world has changed in many ways. For one thing, people are living longer. In most ways, technological advances have vastly improved our lives. Today, we can attend essential meetings in distant cities by zooming in on our laptops (indeed, if we are not careful, a day can be consumed by these). All of this means that we can accomplish more for a longer time. We are not required to take a seat on the sidelines when we reach what used to be retirement age. For this, I am grateful and still feel a sense of mission every day about my community and my world. 

For instance, I have spent much of my time and money on religious literacy and helping people of different faiths better understand each other. The Foundation for Religious Literacy has over 2,000 users taking 50 online courses taught by experts on the world’s faith traditions. Today’s headlines tell me this is a timely and much-needed endeavor. Though the mission started many years ago, it is more important than ever. I certainly couldn’t have known that it could make this big of a difference when we started.

So, what is your mission? What issue can you get involved in? What problems can you solve with your wisdom and experience to give back?

Perhaps you are already involved in these things. If you are, then you know what I know: that being involved is a vital ingredient in making us happier; that having a daily to-do list keeps us sharp; and significantly, that the others we meet on our journey not only increase our social contacts but provide us with good examples, inspiration and possibly friendship.

The bottom line? I am healthier because of what I do every day. The truth is, we are all here to accomplish something. Despite what the culture may assume about people of a certain age, we can be more effective than ever, and we can still accomplish good and even great things. 

Keep up your good works. I wish you all the best in doing just that.

Bruce McEver is an entrepreneur, poet, and author. His new book, Many Paths, was recently released as an audiobook.

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