Given my blog’s name, I do continue to read articles on retirement transition. I appreciate others perspective on this life milestone. Many writers continue to work on shifting the perspective of what retirement is in today’s world. Too often retirement is still viewed as a diminishment of the individual, a time of stagnation and decline, or just escapism.
Some recent intriguing ideas:
- Retirement is not natural. It does not exist in nature. There are no other animals that have a life stage like retirement. It is also more a Euro-American concept and doesn’t really exist in many countries that have longest-living citizens.
- It’s helpful to think of retirement not as a period of “winding down”, but more as a “new growth curve”. There could be 30-40 years between end-of-career and true old age!
- Retirement takes effort. Watch-outs that can lead to depression and addictions are isolation (loss of connections with end of career is common), becoming sedentary, and too much self-indulgence. Put in the effort to grow connections, to be active, and engage to serve others.
- Have a non-financial plan for retirement, one that addresses mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Most Retirement Planning continues to focus on just the financials. But end-of-career (or stopping full time employment if it wasn’t career based) can also impact your sense of identity, connections to others, need for structure/routine, and sense of utility or purpose. Thinking about filling those needs is part of feeling happy/content in retirement for 30-40 years.
It took me a few years to craft a non-financial plan that linked to the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Yes, it was a number of years before I settled on this life vision statement:
Active Body, Connected Heart, Creative Spirit, Contemplative Mind
My weekly/seasonal plans include working on healthy habits; continuing to make intentional connections to replace the social environment I had at work; learning with classes, reading, new experiences, and being a creative dabbler; and deliberately slowing down and taking the time to reflect and wander – down the beach, thru a book, at the farmers market, thru a museum.
I still hear people talk about “failing” at retirement. There are times I have felt like I’m not doing it “right”. My feeling of failing at retirement is often attributed to not having a Life Purpose, when it is so often said (by many talking about life satisfaction in retirement) to be critical. But failing retirement can be about feeling bored or adrift or irrelevant. I know a number of folks who have gone back to work as the default solution to “failing” retirement. Working (part time or even a second full-time career) can be an option to fill the needs of staying connected to others, having a challenge, for a sense of accomplishment, or because they feel like they have more to give. And in reality, income might be necessary to supplement daily expenditures or to have some discretionary spending. But work should be a choice to fill needs, not a result of failing retirement!
Your life purpose can be your vocation. But for many, a career was more a job than a vocation. A life purpose can also be linked to your role in family dynamics, be about working towards mastery of something, being a life-long learner, or sharing your acquired wisdom in some way.
For many years I lived for my work. It was a common workplace “joke” that I needed to “get a life”. These days I feel like I have a well-balanced, curated life. Even if some days I feel like I’m failing at retirement, I don’t feel a need to go back to work. I just put more effort on those non-financial parts of the plan. And some days I think maybe my life purpose is sharing the acquired wisdom of living a retirement life that is connected, active, and growing, even if it’s not natural!
Have you encountered any new ideas about retirement?
Picture: My latest glass plate flower crafted.
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