Here is the picture of retirement in the Boomer head. A wrinkly old guy sitting on a bench waiting for his turn at shuffleboard. For a Boomer woman the picture is a wrinkly old woman babysitting a grandchild.
What should retirement be about? I got some ideas from an online article at 2 Young 2 Retire website. Written by Howard and Marika Stone, from their book Too Young to Retire, the article was entitled Top 10 Ways To Retire Retirement.
1. Retire the word “retirement” from your vocabulary.
They begin by suggesting we retire the word retirement. They think a better description might be “renaissance” or “graduation” because retirement means “retreat” or “withdrawal.”
I don’t see anything wrong with the term retirement. If you’re going to continue to live your life in retirement you know you’re not going to be retreating from anything. Now, when we say we retired, other retirees ask “What are you doing?” They don’t ask “Where are you hiding?”
If others who are not retired want to think it’s withdrawal they can think what they like. Those of us in active retirement know it’s not just a graduation – it’s a moving on to the new and different.
2. Realize retirement is a relatively new concept in human evolution.
In the pre-retirement days, seniors just kept going and working until they dropped dead. Now, with Social Security and retirement pensions, older people can actually stop working and enjoy leisure time. What you do with that leisure is really what the new concept is all about.
3. Restructure your priorities around what is most important to you.
The big trick in retirement is figuring what is most important to you.
- Closer relationships with your family and friends, old and new?
- Community service?
- Arts and/or sports?
- Learning something new?
- Reading and reflecting?
In retirement you can choose one or more of these options. It’s one of the benefits of leisure time.
4. Renew your zest for education.
In retirement, there are no more required courses, unless you decide to go back to school for a new or another degree. Take a class in something that interests you or go teach what you’ve learned to other people.
If you never had a “zest for education,” (you hated school) now is the time to try sitting in a class on your own terms without the pressure of graduating high school or finishing that Master’s Thesis.
5. Revitalize your energy by finding a community of people who embrace growth and change.
Don’t get stuck with the been there, done that crowd. Find people who support and like what you like. That will make you feel less like you’re out on a limb or the only person around doing this weird activity, such as studying desert lizards or playing the kazoo.
6. Rekindle your spirit for risk taking.
Risk taking does not have to be bungee jumping off a bridge in Australia. A risk can be as simple as deciding to try playing Pickleball. You don’t like it? So? You don’t get a failing grade. You just move on to something else. The only failure in retirement is the failure of trying.
7. Respond to new opportunities.
There are a lot of possibilities when you’re retired. Don’t just respond with an automatic “No way.” Maybe there is a way.
Remain open to the infinite possibilities the world has to offer. Your full potential may lie ahead.
8. Recharge your system by moving your body regularly.
Moving doesn’t necessarily mean running Marathons. (Although I interviewed a Boomer who is on his way to running Marathons in all 50 states. See The View, pages 14 and 15.) Hiking, biking, or even walking counts. So do Tai Chi and yoga. You doctor will be bugging you to do exercise anyway to help your heart, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and so on. So get up and move every day.
9. Revisit your childhood dreams
I don’t think that means that if you wanted to be a ballerina as a child you should now try joining the Joffrey ballet. It’s going to be hard to get your body down to matchstick proportions. (Although a senior ballet dance troupe is an interesting idea!)
And the Yankees probably are not interested in testing your pitching arm if pitching at Yankee Stadium was a boyhood dream. But there’s nothing wrong with reconnecting to the things you dreamed about in childhood and at least do something that’s in the ballpark.
For example, there are fantasy baseball leagues for retired players. And you ballerinas can take a dance class or join a group that goes to ballet and discusses it.
I think what they’re saying is to look back in your life and pick out the things that really meant something to you. Then see how you can get them, or at least that feeling, back into your life. Which really leads to their last point:
10. Remember, the power and wisdom to recognize and act on your true passion is within you.
Emphasis on the you.
In short, retirement means using your leisure time to enjoy those things that give you the spark of life because you probably have 30 more good years and withdrawing into a cave is not the way to spend them.