015: You Don’t Have To Be Old To Retire Now – Todd Stocker.com

never too old to retireIn a few short months, we turn the calendar and start again. Are you ready for the new year? Would you like to do something different? The issue we’re going to be talking about today deals with retirement and it ties in with the new year in a very significant way.


“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.” Abe Lemons

I picked this quote because I’ve talked with people at all stages of their life that have different views of what it means to retire. Folks in their 20’s say, “When I retire, i’m heading to the beach to sit in the sun and drink fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. folks that are heading closer to retirement say, “I’m going to do the things I’ve always wanted to do.”

So how is that connected to the new year? When I’m doing career coaching, I often do this exercise that helps people discover retirement now. I ran this with my staff the other day.

  1. On a 3×5 card, I had them answer this question. “if tomorrow was your first day of retirement, what could you see yourself moving into.” Take a longer view. Not just “Go to Cancun” But I mean, longer term. “what would get you up and out of bed in the morning?”  Then they’d write that down. We gathered the cards and one of our staff read the answers to the group. We had to guess whose card was whose. The answers were great! On person said, spend all of my time volunteering at an animal rescue shelter. One person said research and live the monastic lifestyle. Another said, write a book. That was fun guessing
  2. Then I asked, “Why not do that now?” The table fell silent. Why do we think we need to wait until retirement to chose to do the things we love to do. Yes you have responsibilities at work or raising a family, but are there aspects of what you really want to do in retirement that you can do now? If volunteering at an animal rescue shelter makes you come alive, start just one a month on a Saturday. If working in the ground or playing music makes your soul sing, find ways to do that now. If you’ve always wanted to write a book, go to bed an hour earlier to wake up an hour earlier and write your book. You don’t have all day to do it if you’re not retired, but you do have extra time in your day. Early morning for me is when I meet with God, reflection prayer but then I dive into personal writing projects, before I get the kids going and move into my schedule.

Often, retirement isn’t necessarily doing something different, but be able to shed the things you don’t want to do. For me, I love writing, speaking, career coaching, Leading… My role in leading a large organization also includes administrative work and lots of meetings. I may be rare, but I actually enjoy those pieces as well. But When in retirement, I’ll continue doing writing, speaking and those things, but I’ll move out of the parts of my job that i’m not the greatest at and that don’t necessarily make me come alive.

So ask yourself the questions, “What do I want to do in retirement?” and then “What aspects of those activities can I incorporate into my life today.” You might not be able to do them at work, but you have plenty of time before or afterwards. You just might need to shut off the tv. okay


Go out and Take Back Your Life!

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Makenzie’s Misunderstood Bible Verse – Jeremiah 29:11 – Part 2

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Truthfully, this translation is not the best for this verse (see part 1).  Even though millions have it as a life verse, have used it for comfort and have placed it on everything from bumper stickers to coffee mugs, it still doesn’t capture what God is saying.

It’s Makenzie’s life verse as well but there is so much more meaning to it if you dig into the context and the original language.  In context, God has exiled the Israelites to Babylon (which is a whole ‘nother theological discussion).  He tells them to hang out, do what needs to be done, get married, build a life etc.  But at the end of 70 years, He is going to bring them back to their homeland.

The Israelites are ticked, tired and tried.  They need to know that God hasn’t abandoned them or forgotten about them.  They need some encouragement from this God who, in His love, allowed desperate hardship to uproot their entire people group.  And in comes verse 11 of Jeremiah 29:11.  Through a word of encouragement, God says to this beat up nation, “Hey!  Don’t worry.  Hang in there.   For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

God doesn’t have an individual plan for you but more importantly, He has a larger purpose for you (again, see part 1).  And, as the original language points out, God thinks good thoughts about you.  For one, they are thoughts of peace.  It is possible to be in the worst life tragedy or the most frustrating situation and still have peace!  The peace that God gives!  He doesn’t think evil on you either.  Meaning, if you feel like God has allowed destruction in your life, behind the scenes, He is working it into something good (see Romans 8:28).  He also knows what the end of the story looks like in your life and, again, it is good.  It may not be what you expect, but it is good.

Our family is experiencing this good right now.  Coming next month, it will be 3 years since the Lord danced my oldest daughter, Makenzie, to heaven.  It has been extremely hard, much of the time.  It has been a journey that I wish upon no one.  But we are seeing how even in the midst of the struggle, we have had peace.  And it is good.

So go ahead and mark up the T-shirts with Jer. 29:11.  Claim it for your confirmation or life verse.  Tattoo it on your hand.  Whatever.  God has great thoughts and a purpose for your existence.  Live fully, Love God and Laugh from your gut.  Life is worthy of that!


Makenzie’s Misunderstood Bible Verse – Jeremiah 29:11 – Part 1

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I hate this verse.  No – that’s a bit strong.  I struggle with this verse.  And while many of you have this verse on t-shirts, bracelets and small magnets on the doors to your fridge, I get frustrated thinking about it!

Here’s my tension: If God has plans for me, plans that involve prosperity, hope, and protection, then what happened to God’s plans when my daughter, Makenzie died in a car accident a few years – moments – ago?  This was her life verse and motivationally so!  But what about the “not to harm you” part.  What about that, God?  And does that mean that I can goof up and step out of God’s plan and then work to get back on His plan for me?

As you can tell, I’ve battled with this verse’s language-ing until I dug deeper into its context and its original Hebrew.  I’ll spare you a theological treatise, but a better translation of Jeremiah 29:11 comes in the King James Version.  It reads,

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Doesn’t that change the “plans” part?  Here’s what this verse is actually saying.  It does not say that God has an individual plan for your life – like a blueprint of every moment you spend on the timeline of this earth.  The Bible is clear that He does have a purpose for your life but not necessarily a specific plan.  The purpose about which God talks is for you to know Jesus and to grow to be more like Him in character and relationship.  God’s purpose for you is not based on what you do but moreso who you are.

That means that once you know that your purpose is to love God and love others, then the adventure is discovering how that purpose plays out in your life.  You are freed up to figure out how you are wired, develop those talents and gifts, and then deploy them into the lives of people around you. Part of that means that you can actually do things that you enjoy!  What a concept!

Listen, God doesn’t care what you do for a career – whether you should be an architect, doctor, teacher or pastor.  He doesn’t care what parking space you choose or which outfit you should wear today.  If it doesn’t lead you or others to sin, and if it is a wise decision, do whatever you want!   Generally, God does not have a detailed plan for your life.

So what does this verse mean then?  Stay Tuned …


Making the Impossible Possible

I can easily get overwhelmed with all of the ideas that pop into my head.  Without prioritizing and setting goals, accomplishing even a fraction of them would be impossible.

The habit of setting Goals is so important.  Earl Nightingale said, “People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” Do you know where you’re going?  Are there projects or milestones that you’d like to conquer this new year?  Knowing how to set goals can help 2012 be one of the best years of your life.

To review from last weeks post, here is a seven step way to set goals:
1 – Decide what you want.
2 – Write it down.
3 – Set a deadline.
4 – Brainstorm a list of everything you can think of that you could do to accomplish this.
5 – Organize the list by sequence and priority.
6 – Do something.
7 – Do something everyday.

Now, list 10 goals for this year and ask yourself, “If I could only achieve one goal, which one would have the greatest impact on my life?”  Once you’ve answered that, focus on that one with high intensity.  You can still work on the other goals, but keep the number one the number one.

For me, I have goals in 7 areas of life:  FINANCE, HEALTH, PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, FAMILY, SPIRITUAL, SOCIAL, and CAREER. Not all of them are drastic.  Some of them are crucial.  Taking the above process, here’s how I’m working on one of my goals:

One of my important goals is to finish a long-awaited book project called, “Refined – Turning Pain into Purpose.” Using Brian Tracy’s 7 steps, here’s how it’s all working out:

1 – Decide what you want. – I want to complete “Refined – Turning Pain into Purpose.”
2 – Write it down. – I have a goal worksheet that I use on which this project is listed.
3 – Set a deadline. – Publishing date:  March 30.
4 – Brainstorm a list of everything you can think of that you could do to accomplish this. – Actually, I’ve brainstormed how to keep distractions at bay which frees me up to finish the project.
5 – Organize the list by sequence and priority. – I’m writing chapter by chapter and then editing.  Chapter completion dates: I have 5 chapters left to write so my dates are.  Jan 13, 20, 27, Feb 3, 10.  Editing process completed by Feb. 24. Pre-publishing completed by Mar. 24.
6 – Do something. – 5:30 – 7 am is my daily writing time with some late after noons if possible.
7 – Do something everyday.

Let me know if this is helpful!


(BTW, If you’d like me to email you when “Refined” is available, email me here.)

2012 – I Resolve to Set Goals

“This year’s going to be different.”  Famous last words of many a would be achiever, myself included.  Every January, I endeavor to set out resolutions that are, in theory, suppose to drive me achieve and better myself in some way.  However, I’m part of the statistics that show I’ll have failed in my resolution by the end of January.

This year is a bit different.  This year, I’m resolving to set goals.  Resolutions depend on willpower.  Goals are marked by steps.  Resolutions are all or nothing.  Goals ebb and flow with the rhythms of life.  Resolutions end up as another contribution to the trash basket of failure.  Goals end up changing your life one step at a time.  Brian Tracy said, “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.”

So how does one set goals and ultimately achieve them? The next blogs will lay out a simple way of setting and achieving goals.  So check back soon.


What’s Your WAKE?

I have a favorite coffee shop in St. Paul.  It’s nothing special but the building sits on the banks of the Mississippi River.  Occasionally, on my way home from work, I’ll grab a Java and stroll along the peaceful waters and watch the wildlife that dart from tree to rock to open sky.

There are barges on this portion of the river, pushing or pulling their tons-weighted, coal filled flat up north then south on it’s way to processing.  I see them.  Sometimes I wave to the weathered captains or stand reverently, admiring their power.  This day, I marveled, not at the power and size of the haul, but at the wake they left in their … well … wake.

The ship cuts in half what was forward and sends the small hills of water port and starboard quarter behind.  Small at the stern, the waves spread wide the further the ship sails until they rhythmically lap on to the banks on which I stand.

It struck me, this day, to ask myself the questions, “What wake do I leave?  When I pass by, how do my words and actions land on the banks of other peoples’ lives?  Are my waves gentle or are they  flooding?  Will people remember my passing gladly or with sorrow?  How do I want my wake to impress?”

I sip my coffee and walk back to my car, thinking about my wake.  God willing, my life leaves a wake of gentle joy.


3 Keys to Unlocking Your Purpose

At some point during the formative years, most people ask, “What do I want to be when I grow up.”  A doctor; a pastor; a teacher; a WWF professional wrestler.  We all had our list.  Now that you’re older, do you feel like you’ve achieved or at least identified your purpose?  If you’re like 55% of Americans who are dissatisfied with what their doing, you may be asking yourself that childhood question again, “What do I want to be when I grow up.”

Here are 3 keys or steps to help you begin identifying your purpose:

1 – What have you consistently enjoyed doing in the past? What is it that makes you come alive?  What event or project have you completed that made you smile and say, “That was a blast!”  If I were to give you half a day or more to do whatever you wanted, how would you envision yourself spending that time?  Writing or reading? … tinkering in the garage? … painting?  …  volunteer at a nursing home?  What you find yourself drawn to is an indicator of how our Creator wired you up.

2 – When can you remember people complimenting you on something you did? Did you finish a presentation and people told you that you helped them change?  Did you go over and above the call of duty to help someone and others were impressed?  Many times, this key is something that you don’t think is a big deal but others rave about it.  What were you doing when people were consistently complimenting you.

3 – Now, creatively combine #1 + #2 above. When in the past did you do something that made you come alive and others consistently gave you honest, positive feedback for it?  For example, Steve loved to design and build model cars.  His friends consistently wanted to buy them as gifts.  Steve realized that his creativity and hands-on building made him come alive.  So, he set a plan in place to transition out of his teaching job and begin his own model car company.

Remember that you were not created by mistake.  Consistent, internal frustration is simply a signal that something is a bit out of line.  The fun part is rediscovering who you are!

“The Cure for The Uncommon Life.” – Max Lucado

“HARDWIRED” – training seminar by Todd Stocker

48 Days Podcast – by Dan Miller


“The Newness of Christmas”

This morning, a fresh, new blanket of snow gently covers the old.  Like the top of a cake, the snow is frosted on the arms of the bare trees outside my window.  The indentations of rabbit tracks are barely visible now as the sky’s powder dusts over them.

It is quiet.  It is still.   Everything is new.

Thats what I love about Christmas.  It makes things new.  As a kid, there was the newness  of toys, foods and oder-eaters (yes, I got those for Christmas during my transitory adole-scent years).  As an young adult, there was the newness of events, parties and friends.  As an adult, there was the newness of family, promises and dreams.

“All things new,” the Good Book says.  Time is new this morning; Mercy is new this morning; Love, Joy, Hope.  All of it – New.

What is new to you this Christmas?  As dark becomes light, as sleep becomes ‘wake, as rest becomes work, what has the new snow covered in you?

Christmas reminds me of the new.  And the journey of its discovery is what gives me peace.

What’s Your Purpose?

(NEW!  to listen to and download the audio version, click here)

I was having a conversation with a university student recently and he was trying to discern God’s will for His life.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve struggled with this question in my own life as well.  God’s purpose for me. What is it?  Can I know it?  How can I follow it?

Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear the word “purpose” I immediately connect it to “plan”.  If God’s got a purpose for the world, then He has a plan for me.  And if God has a specific plan for my life, how do I discover that plan?  I use to be so convinced that trying to find God’s will for my life was an end result and once found, that I would follow that plan for the rest of my life.  But what if God intended our purpose to just be and not to do?  What if God intended your purpose to simply be a walking witness of his love instead completing a task, accomplishing a goal, or finishing project.

I don’t believe that God has scripted ever detail of every day into a cosmic play in which I’m one of the actors.  Given, there is ambiguity here since Psalm 16 and other Biblical narratives show God is ultimately in control.  But to know the steps in the pathway of my day is impossible for me to discern.  I know that God knows what’s going to happen because He’s not bound by time.  He knows what’s going to happen to you 10 minutes from now as well as 10 years from now.  He sees it all.  But living the detail by detail – that’s up to us.

God’s purpose for our lives is simply to love Him and love others.  Anything past that, God gives us freedom to choose.  Remember, He knows what that choice will be.  So it doesn’t matter if you want to be an electrician, a church-worker, a musician, an accountant or whatever else you want to do.  Here is the key thought:  What you choose to spend your time doing is not your Purpose, that is your life’s work. Purpose is bigger and simpler than what choose to do.

I ended up telling this student to cut the question in half.  Don’t ask, “What is God’s will for my life” but ask, “What is God’s will?”  After that we have freedom to do whatever we want!  (As long as it’s not sin).  God simply wants us to be His children; to love other people the way He loves us.

Until next time, go and lead an extra-ordinary life.