Have you recently left a job and are in your 60s? Do you refer to your new status as “retired”? Or does that outmoded term bother you as much as it bothers me?
What does it mean these days to retire? For an active person like me, the term “retirement” is highly problematic, certainly for its association with aging, not to mention with golf!
We all know people who have retired in their 50s and, on rare occasions, in their 30s and 40s. Professional athletes do it all the time. Unless we think of 40 as old, that kind of retirement is not associated with aging.
But once you’re beyond 60, the word “retirement” for most of us equals aging. Yet for baby boomers, aging is anathema to our identity. We still feel that it just does not apply to us. Some day we know, we are going to die, but age—never!
The truth is many of us are still in good health and have high energy and a sense of purpose driving us to continue to lead productive and impactful lives, not characterized primarily by golf, tennis and travel. Not that there is anything wrong with balanced doses of leisure and exploration, but most baby boomers I know want to keep moving ahead and be productive, purposeful and creative. Many of us want to build on our skills and contacts acquired over a lifetime to make a difference and do our part to repair our broken world. Those of us who can afford to do so as volunteer workers are particularly blessed.
As for a new term, “regrouping” beats “retirement” any day of the week. A bit like being on a sabbatical, it means taking a break, re-evaluating your goals, finding your passion and moving ahead. And there is, of course, no reason not to resume paid employment of some sort.
If this sentiment resonates with you, the next time someone asks you if you’re “retired” because you left paid employment and are over 60, tell them no, you are in fact regrouping and turning the page. You are moving on to your next chapter with greater freedom to engage your passion and fulfill your purpose. Sound like a plan?
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