4 Questions to Build Your Future
Stoke the Fire and Forge Ahead
This winter has brought some record low temperatures to parts of the United States. Even here in Dallas, Texas, we got down to a low of 10 degrees last month, with our high in the low 20s. One of the things that most of us enjoy in this cold weather is a crackling fireplace. It burns with a cheery light that seems to light up all the corners of the house.
I have noticed that making good use of a fireplace has two phases. One is obviously building the fire to produce energy, heat, and light. The other is the maintenance that it takes to keep the fire going—stoking the fire. We must replenish the wood as it burns down, and then we must stir up the embers to ignite fresh wood. We must stoke the fire if we want to keep it burning.
Many of us nearing retirement age have spent our adult lives burning brightly. We have worked hard, endured our share of tragedy and triumphs, and forged ahead. Now, we may be feeling the urge to slow down or change our pace. In some cases, we can feel the fire within us beginning to burn a little less brightly. And, as we age, we often entertain thoughts about when our fire will go out.
Holding this perspective is dangerous, though. We cannot spend our retirement time simply letting our fire fade. It will extinguish our energy, diminish our light, and leave us as cold as doused coals. Life has a way of ebbing and flowing. At times, we are forging ahead with abandon; at other times, we are stoking our fire, waiting or planning for the next opportunity to catch a spark. Retirement is a time to stoke your fire and then forge ahead.
In his book, How to Build a Positive Attitude and Keep the Darn Thing, motivational speaker Charlie Adams recalls hearing a talk by renown coach Lou Holtz. Holtz spoke about four needs that people must have met to keep their inner fire stoked.
- Having a purpose. We all need to have that sense of being significant and playing a role in something bigger than ourselves. Unfortunately, our world often marginalizes retirees in many ways, making us feel insignificant. Who or what in your life provides you with a sense of purpose and relevance?
- Having someone to love. Loving and being loved are essential to happiness and joy. One of the biggest dangers we face as we age is becoming isolated from others. How are you ensuring that you will stay engaged with others by giving and receiving love?
- Having something to believe in. Faith, as used in the Bible, is a word that means to “put your full weight down on.” In a world that threatens to disappoint us with broken promises, what do you believe in that will hold your weight?
- Having something to look forward to. As we age, we tend to visualize our past as bigger than our future. Living in the past is a surefire way to smother your flame. What are you doing to make your tomorrows more impactful than your yesterdays?
If you are facing a major life change or have already retired, be careful. It is easy to rely on burning the logs already in the fireplace and lose interest in creating more flames, letting your spark go out. Finding the answers to these four questions can help you stoke the fire. The answers can also help you find ways to burn brighter than ever, using all of your experience and life wisdom to help others burn a little brighter, too.
If you want more practical help for how to do this, read my book, The Encore Curve: Retire with a Life Plan That Excites You, or go to EncoreCurve.com for other resources. Stoking up your fire is highly important for your future, and it is worth investing your time in. Find your spark and fan it into a flame to light the way for others.
About the author – Andy Raub is known as “America’s Encore Coach” because of his passion to help retirees repurpose their lives and reorganize their money. Andy is the author of the book The Encore Curve – How to Retire with a Life Plan That Excites You and the founder of the Encore Curve Program.