You’ve probably heard this before, Dig your well before you are thirsty. The phrase comes up 6.9 million times in a Google search. I couldn’t confirm who first said it. Some think it is an ancient Chinese proverb. It could have come from Yogi Berra for all I know.

I thought of this axiom when I came upon an article earlier this month from the Wall Street Journal. It was one of those many articles about how to prepare for retirement. Baby boomers like me eat this stuff up. The thing that was different was this time is a heading in the story that caught my eye:

Relationships are the key to retirement.

The article went on to say,

“The key predictor of longevity, health, and happiness in later life is the quality of your relationships. This is the finding of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which has followed families for decades.”

Are we asking the right questions?

Maybe it’s just me, but when it comes to thinking about retirement I find people less concerned about their relationships and instead they are asking questions like:

  • Will I run out of money in retirement before I die?
  • Who’s going to take care of me in my old age when I can no longer take care of myself?

We could ask better questions

If we are to accept the findings of the Harvard research study, that relationships are the key to happiness in later life, maybe we should be asking questions like:

  • We’re told to put as much as we can into our retirement savings, but have we put enough into our relationships? Have we invested as wisely in our relationships as we’ve tried to do with our money
  • Chances are some of the friends we have now will die before we do, so how do we make new friends to replace the ones who go before us?
  • Who are the people younger than I am that I think would make good friends, both now and into the future?
  • What relational skills can I work on now that will serve me well when I’m old? For example, good friendships are based on being a good listener, not a good talker. How good a listener am I?
  • Who would I like to invite deeper into my life? Who’s available who might be interested in being my friend? Who are the people whose life I would like to be more part of?
  • What can I do to be a more attractive, winsome, and inviting person, such that people would want to be my friend when I’m older?
  • If I’m married, and my spouse dies before I do, what do I need to learn from them now to prepare me for when they are no longer here?
  • To what extent have I mastered the ORA principle of deeper relationships? Observe – Reflect – Act. There are several You Were Made for This podcast episodes on this topic. More will be coming.

How about you?
What are you doing to dig a relational well before you are thirsty for relationships? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Next week

Our You Were Made for This podcast reruns next week with season 8 and episode 201. I can’t wait!

Until next time, I’ll close with that relationship quote I’ve been using lately from William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice,

”I wish you all the joy that you can wish.”

John Certalic

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