I’ve read repeatedly that the traditional retirement is considered to be a thing of the past. The older retiree stereotype of working for one company, living frugally/saving well, and retiring to a lifestyle of leisure activities and a snowbird lifestyle… no longer a valid profile.
Oh dear, I fit this profile!
The 21st Century Retirement is considered to be about more about creative pursuits, second careers, urban lifestyles, personal growth, and giving back.
How did this new profile come to pass?
- With the increase in longevity, 30 years of leisure activities is considered, in our still Puritan-based culture, self-indulgent (i.e. not a good thing).
- With the increase in longevity and decrease in savings (between the downturns in the market, the keep-up-with-the-Jones’ lifestyles, and the kids must have everything they want/ I think they need), 30 years of no compensation is often just not possible for most people.
- More Baby Boomers were free thinkers who sought personal growth and purpose, who fought the status quo, and with downturns and downsizes, had to change careers and employers multiple times.
- Add in the Millennial culture shift to the gig economy and everything being about a side-hustle. How can you not be monetizing your hobby/passion?
The new retirement profile is a Purpose-Driven Retirement. And I continue to struggle with the ideas of purpose and legacy. My gut clenches when I see the rhetorical question “how is the world a better place because you’ve lived in it?” My Comparative Inferiority Complex raises its mighty head as I feel like every other retiree has figured out their purpose and is living it. I feel like a failure for not being able to articulate my (grand) life purpose. Yes, I know all of this is a self-limiting belief.
What if I want my retirement lifestyle to be mostly about self-indulgence and freedom from responsibility? I spent most of my working years delaying gratification and being responsible. Yes, I know the data suggests that having a purpose contributes to resiliency, longevity, and life satisfaction. But I also know how data can be manipulated! (I spent a big part of my career looking at data to find what supported our in-going beliefs!)
A big part of purpose is giving back. If I wanted to find something to “give back”, how do it in away that does not re-instate my workaholic tendencies?
I read somewhere: Your purpose is the full expression of who you are… lived out in hobbies, relationships, and activities. Your purpose is in the activities for which you have passion. I am still searching for my “passion project” – the thing that makes my heart swell and my eyes light up, the activity that gives me a burst of energy, or when barrier busting feels exciting and not burdensome.
I know I have a minor love affair with words – a passion-ette, you might say. I am not a massive, nor high-brow, reader, but I like to read. I enjoy writing – putting words on paper that help me figure out my thoughts or synthesize things I’ve read about. Blogging is satisfying my writing urge. Yes, some would say I am a “mere blogger”… not writing a fiction book in my field of expertise, or a non-fiction novel, or even a creative short story. The”mere” in blogging is because I am not actively trying to increase readership of my blog, nor monetize it.
Can I find purpose in my hobby blogging? Does my blogging contribute to the wellbeing of others and the common good beyond myself? (Those are often sited as key elements of purpose.) I do know that when my blog resonates with someone, makes someone think, or inspires someone to try something – I feel a sense of accomplishment.
I also know that what you believe about yourself & the world around you creates your reality. Do I just need to say my life purpose (right now) is blogging? Align my thoughts with that life purpose & curate my life for that path?
Does being a blogger sound like a purposeful 21st century retirement vision?
Picture Credit: Me! Big boy surveying his domain, Africa Safari, 2017