In their book, Refire! Don’t Retire, Ken Blanchard (best known for his books about management—including The One Minute Manager) and Morton Shaevitz define ‘refiring’ as: ‘Adopting an attitude of embracing the years ahead with enthusiasm rather than apathy.’

In an interview, Blanchard described it further: ‘Refire is to see each day as an opportunity for adventure and learning. The point is, life is a very special occasion. Don’t miss it.’

They suggest that there are four basic areas where we could be refired to advantage.

Older man sitting back laughing with fish in baskets to sell.
Photo: Aaron Burden

1. Refire emotionally

This is about being playful, friendly, joyful, loving, spontaneous, and enthusiastic. These elements of life are sometimes lost when we get into a rut and attempt to avoid risks.

‘Refiring is about changing your attitude and taking a few risks,’ says Blanchard, ‘anything from ordering something exotic on the menu to starting a new relationship. Play, love, laugh—be spontaneous.’

Couple taking a selfie in a country area.  One person is wearing a purple cap and pink t shirt, the other person in front of that person is wearing a ble t shirt
Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

2. Refire intellectually

Learn new things. Read books, take classes stretch your mind. Take on something completely outside your field of expertise. Shaevitz uses the example of an engineer taking an art course or an artist a management course.

One of the problems retirees can have is doing nothing because they can. That’s fine for short bursts, but taken to extremes it can lead to a life without purpose. In retirement, there’s no boss to spur you on. You set the agenda. If you don’t have one you’ll probably find yourself watching a lot of TV. There’s not a lot of intellectual stimuli there.

3. Refire Physically

This is about healthy living. It includes such things as exercising, eating right, and adequate sleep.

Blanchard tells of his own experience: ‘I refired physically about 2½ years ago. I lost 35 to 40 pounds (16 to 18 kilograms). I started doing balance, weight and flexibility training in addition to aerobics. I got a recumbent bike. The fact that I refired physically pumped me up to refire for other things.’

Lady with long plaited hair smiling ,m wearing a multi coloured striped dress, with her hand on her hip and head tilted.
Photo: Batel

4. Refire spiritually

Blanchard says that people assume they’re talking about religion when it comes to refiring spiritually. He argues that they’re using the word spiritual to refer to the opposite of material things.

‘Refiring spiritually is about getting in touch with something important outside of yourself—looking outward instead of inward.

‘I believe when people have an opportunity to focus outside themselves, they will work toward a higher purpose. After all, it’s hard to become stale, bored, or dissatisfied with your work or your life when you are doing something that serves the greater good.’

Refire! Don’t Retire is a reminder that life is here for living, no matter what stage you’re at.

Bruce Manners, author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of 

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