Life After Work: The First Step

life after work

The new year is here! From everyone at Rose Publishing/Aspire Press, we hope you had a joyful, wonderful Christmas. We’re kicking the new year off with a guest post from two of our Aspire authors. Keep reading to hear more about how they’re helping individuals find a fulfilling life Afterwork.

Written by authors of Afterwork, Joel Malick and Alex Lippert.

            In our initial post titled, Life After Work, we uncovered what the retirement lie was all about and answered questions about our hopes for Afterwork. You can read more about the retirement lie on this previous post.

Many people don’t know what they don’t know. So, if you enter retirement unaware of the eventual challenges you’re certain to face, you’re loads more likely to face deep dissatisfaction and struggle to find fulfillment in this season of life.

Alex and I have learned from experience that many people assume it’s possible to spend 20+ years just doing whatever they want and feel fulfilled. They believe their purposeful work is largely over … they “did their part,” so to speak. Now it’s time to chillax (for anyone over age 50, that’s a compound word that means to simultaneously chill and relax). Then, if any real purpose beyond chillaxing exists, it boils down to scooting the grandkids around, babysitting, and doing things that interest them, such as keeping up with the news of the day and joining a book club. Eventually this can lead to a state of living “just okay.”

None of those activities are bad; in fact, they’re great. They just can’t be the totality of who you become. Maybe they’re the garnish on the main dish of life instead. We’ve observed that three people out of every ten don’t know this is a problem. They are perfectly satisfied leaving a legacy of poor golf scores and repeated happy hours. Five out of ten enjoy fun activities as much as the first three, but without a more meaty reason to wake up on Monday, they don’t seem to enjoy their leisure all that much after a while. And the final two out of the ten remaining are the individuals contributing to the noticeable rise in divorce and suicide rates for those over 55+.

We are all for recreation and trying new things. But these activities only work well when they are in balance with passions that still drive you. Things that actually push you a bit. Regardless of your age, most good and fulfilling endeavors happen somewhere outside of your comfort zone. 

So, let’s assume you’re at a point where you agree with us. Now, what do you do? The best starting place is to force yourself into trying something new … anything! This is a very important step to attempt BEFORE you actually retire … long before, in fact. But, for those that have already retired, it’s not too late to do this same exercise.

In a perfect world, you would be 18 years old and begin with the end in mind. You would start adulthood fully aware that your purpose and calling exist outside of your everyday work. You can self-define what “work” means for you here … raising kids, owning a business, or pursuing a traditional employee-like career. Your purpose should manifest itself through your work, but who you are as a person, and what you have to offer is much more organic than your most time-consuming activity. If you don’t view work through this lens, then you won’t know who you are afterwork.

The lie is that you think you will know who you are when you’re removed from all built-in structure. But the truth is that you won’t.

Now, for those who aren’t 18 anymore but on toward, say, their 50s and haven’t quite looked at it this way, you need to get busy doing some stuff you think you might be interested in. Yes, there’s still time! I say “might,” because you just don’t know where God is going to lead you until you start. You want to approach this with a sense of adventure and in a posture of prayer and seeking. Let me tell you a quick story to illustrate.

When our good friend Jim experienced a not-so-pleasant life event, it got him thinking and reflecting on who he was and who he wanted to become. Jim was about a decade out from his estimated retirement date. He began to explore a bit. Jim had an internal, yet undeveloped sense that serving in the local prison system could be a great way to impact lives and find fulfillment. With no real sense of what that would mean in actual practice, Jim decided just to start somewhere and see where the road would take him.

retirment planning

Fast-forward about seven years … and Jim has not only found his passion, he has also honed it. He’s teaching The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to inmates and is looking for ways to expand his impact now that he’s in a groove and knows he loves it! Just the other day he was meeting with a graduate who had spent ten years “behind the wall” and is now out doing what Jim calls “amazing work.”

By mixing in this experiment well ahead of his afterwork, Jim was able to give proper attention to this internal inkling, allowing it to either take root and blossom or perhaps find out it just “wasn’t him.” Now Jim moves with confidence into this next season, knowing that when he wakes up on Monday mornings after the initial excitement of retirement has worn off, he’ll have the fulfillment of a worthy challenge with massive impact potential awaiting him. Alex and I believe this is possible for everyone, so we want you to remember this short phrase: “You have to retire to something, not just from something.”

So, we begin by acknowledging the lie. Then we take a leap of faith to try something that will stretch our ability apart from family and work. Don’t be discouraged if the first leap is a miss. It was for Jim too and is for many others. Keep trying, because we believe you’ll find it. And there’s an added bonus: When you do find it, it just so happens to make your leisure more enjoyable because of the balance.

We leave you with a challenge: write down five things you’ve dreamed of pursuing; a passion, a mission, or a business. Start trying them out and see what God does!

Afterwork: An Honest Discussion about the Retirement Lie and How to Live a Future Worthy of Dreams by Joel Malick and Alex Lippert

happy retired

Retirement. Downsizing. Selling your business. Children leaving the nest. Layoffs. A major health event. Losing a loved one. Important life transitions remind us of what once “was,” leaving large gaps of free time and less to look forward to in the future. Afterwork acknowledges these tectonic shifts and offers revealing insights, powerful disciplines, and practical applications to help you step forward into a new and remarkably fulfilling season—regardless of how you’ve defined “work.”

Follow authors, Joel (@joel.malick) and Alex (@alex.lippert) on Instagram for daily content about life Afterwork.

Alex Lippert
Joel Malick



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