After forty years of work, Jeanne was feeling the effects of overtaxing schedules, endless priorities and mile high stress. Her health was beginning to suffer and she was on the verge of joining the not-so-exclusive club of the walking living and spiritually dead. She made the difficult decision to leave corporate life.
But instead of taking some well-deserved time to regroup, Jeanne dove right into setting up a consulting business. It was something she had dreamed about for a long time. While it was exciting at first, she came to realized that she’d simply traded the corporate treadmill for an entrepreneurial treadmill. Her ultimate goals of reducing stress and pursing more meaningful activities were further than ever.
It hadn’t occurred to Jeanne that the transition to a less jam-packed life would be as significant as starting a career or raising a family. She hadn’t understood how closely her self-worth was wrapped up in her work. It took her several years for her to see more clearly the spiritual dimension of who she was and to open herself up to exploring the big hairy questions we all want to explore, but are afraid to. When she realized she was still spending too much time at work, she knew she needed to do things differently. That’s when she saw more clearly the authentic self she wanted to become in this later stage of life. This realization helped her make the necessary adjustments so she could maintain a better balance between work and the rest of her life goals.
Some might say Jeanne experienced a spiritual crisis or sorts. In many ways I agree. This time of transition from work to more leisurely pursuits can feel like a spiritual quest, a time for:
• reckoning and coming to terms with regrets and unfulfilled dreams that will remain unfulfilled;
• understanding that legacy doesn’t happens after we’re gone, but rather gets created while we are still here;
• coming to the realization that time is growing shorter and the bucket list is getting longer;
• contemplating the wisdom of the heart instead of only the head;
• defining self-worth within a new framework of spiritual lightness, rather than net worth or work;
• expressing meaning and purpose in new ways.
Deepak Chopra says: “Ultimately spiritual awareness unfolds when you’re flexible, when you’re spontaneous, when you’re detached, when you’re easy on yourself and easy on others.” Retirement, semi-retirement, second act; whatever we call this time of life, seems like the perfect time to embrace spiritual curiosity and spontaneity; both of which allow us to become more enlightened, and to let go of the burdens that unnecessarily weigh us down. It’s the perfect time to search for what is meaningful and purposeful; to stay connected and engaged with others and with the world around us.
Spirituality is grounded in everyday living and in every loving act. The journey from a life of work to a life of leisure is one of the most significant journeys we take in life. It is a journey of movement from one place to another; and it looks different for everyone. Any such significant transition will undoubtedly be accompanied by a spiritual journey. One might even say that the journey of ageing is a spiritual experience in and of itself.
Even though Jeanne still keeps a fairly full work schedule, people often ask how she’s enjoying retirement and all the leisurely time that comes with it. At first that question didn’t sit well with her; but now she tells them she doesn’t know yet; that she’ll get back to them when she reaches this elusive destination called retirement.
Late actor, John Barrymore, asserts that “A man [woman] isn’t old until regrets take the place of his [her] dreams.” If that’s the case, I’m nowhere near ready for full retirement either. I have far too many dreams to pursue before getting old – a.k.a. retirement.
Shamans, look a.k.a. medicine men, hospital approach healing very differently than doctors do in western cultures; where the modus operandi seems to be dispensing a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals to treat any and all ailments. Anthropologist, stomach Dr. Angela Arrien, tells the story of how the Shaman treat members of their tribes who complain of feeling depressed or dispirited by asking four questions:
1. When did you stop dancing?
2. When did you stop singing?
3. When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
4. When did you stop finding comfort in silence?
Those four questions are probably as revealing and accurate as any medical diagnostic tools in western style medicine. They speak to the root of the soul’s ailment, often a pre-cursor to physical ailment. Perhaps, it’s no accident that ecstatic dance is becoming main stream in western cultures. With rates of depression estimated to run as high as 20-40% in seniors; it’s time to realize the approaches we are using may not be working for the dispirited.
The transitioning to retirement alone is enough to challenge the most resilient of individuals. So many parts of the psyche are tested during this transition. Today’s retirees have, by and large, been career builders with smaller families. They have been more nomadic in nature and less connected to their communities. Retirement will test the very core of their identity and self-worth, especially as they move away from worthy careers. Retirement demands a series of complex decisions. It’s not surprising, then, that the whole exercise becomes an ecstatic and frenetic dance of movement from:
• Purpose to questioning
• Holding on to letting go
• Learning to wisdom
• Unlimited time to a sense of immediacy
• Group oriented activities to solitary pursuits
These are only a few of the significant transitions we experience as we navigate the murky waters of retirement. The transition requires space for heartfelt reflection that is necessary to let go of old fears and beliefs that no longer serve a useful purpose; to let go of judgements that hold us back from connecting to our innermost selves; to grow and awaken a new spirit of freedom. One way to ride this emotional roller coaster is to experience an ecstatic dance, literally. Ecstatic dance is not new. It is an old tribal healing practice whose sole purpose is to free the body and allow a way for clarity to emerge. What’s new is the fusion of tribal sound intermixed with modern DJ style music. Ecstatic dance helps the dancer get in touch with the inner self, to cultivate an experience of freedom and joy. You can’t help but feel a strong sense of community with the other dancers in the room. Ecstatic dance helps those who have lived mostly from the neck up to go deeper in the heart chakra. The beauty of ecstatic dance is that there is no specific level of performance to achieve, but rather a free form dance where one lets go and moves freely to the beat of their own drum. Having had the experience of joining in ecstatic dance twice, I can vouch for its benefits. Both times the feeling of lightness and freedom that flowed through me afterwards was palpable. And its effects lasted several weeks. Ecstatic dance is a go at your own pace workout, a stress reliever, and a fun experience of lighthearted openness, all in one package. How many other exercise programs can claim so many benefits? If you want to feel ecstatic, dance like no one’s watching. Why not leave your comfort zone and join a local ecstatic dance group like the one led by Brenda Mailer (facebook/brendrz). It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
It seems a fitting ritual for Boomers as they cross the threshold of work and into the realm of an unknown but beckoning world beyond work. After all, they’ve been dancing throughout their lives. They danced to the song of liberation at Woodstock. They danced a carefully choreographer tango between career and raising families. Why wouldn’t they dance ecstatically as they embark on their second act? Dancing is definitely an option worth looking into. We can always try to figure it out on our own, but time isn’t exactly on our side. Working with a retirement coach can help speed things along.
Retirement is no longer about decline. It is about renewal. And what better way to renew ourselves at this crossroad than to allow ourselves the joy of movement, especially when the body would rather retreat from movement.
Aging has its perks. Free from schedules, there deadlines, viagra pressures and priorities that others impose, we finally have time to do what we want. But aging also has its challenges. The very perks Boomers dream about when they think of retirement can create significant challenges at retirement. Unlimited free time and lack of schedules can be anxiety filled and have negative psychological effects for those who have no hobbies or are not connected to communities where they can volunteer or participate in activities. Too much free time is the enemy of aging. “Old age is not for sissies”, says Betty Davis. She’s right. With an average life span of 20-35 years in retirement, it seems we’d be smart to take a little time to figure out how to enjoy this significant chunk of life; ideally before we retire.
The philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.” By living forward with zest and jubilación, we create a life of joy. No need to brood over the fact that we are getting older and that this is the beginning of the end. I love how Spanish cultures refer to retirement as jubilación, as a time of celebration and exuberance, not a decline. This time of life, more than any other, requires a reframing of old beliefs, the willingness to challenge old assumptions and that we build resilience for change. Aging is all about change. Physical changes occur, unless we keep our bodies in good health, both physical and emotional. Intellectual changes occur, often through memory loss, unless we continue to learn and build new neural pathways. Our needs of social interaction deepen in aging as we realize the incredible gifts that family and friends give us every day we spend with them. Spiritual changes occur as we deepen our understanding of the values and beliefs that are important to us; and challenge ourselves to consider spirituality in broader terms than the framework of only one religious ideology.
This is the perfect time to take a serious look at the transformative powers of reaching for one’s potential. The only barrier stopping you from taking charge and living life on your own terms is that inner voice of fear that keeps insisting we’re too old for this or that. Instead of focussing on all the things you can no longer do, use that inner voice to change the tape, to refocus your thoughts on the positive aspects of aging. Don’t let pharmaceutical companies; governments; and the media sway you with their narrow thinking about aging. Practice gratitude for all that is good in your life, in your community and around the world. Bring awareness to what’s important in your life.
The joy of aging is amplified when you take time to reflect on all you’ve accomplished and identify the unfinished business in your life. It may require you to bury old grudges and put some distance behind some of the hurts in your life; but it will be well worth it. You will find a fresh new outlook as you imagine what’s possible at this time in your life and adopt a new perspective that is supported by all the positivity you can find. You will also find renewed energy. Gandhi tells us to “Live as if there is no tomorrow. Learn as if you were going to live forever.” There is great wisdom in this quote. It challenges us all to decide if we’re going to thrive or simply strive. The choice is ours to make. Take a look at your relationships, your health, the work you do (paid or unpaid) and the joy you get from leisurely activities at home and in your community. Then start building a list of all that’s possible, based on the dreams and passions you now have time to pursue.
If you take a few moments to consider all that is great right now, and consciously remove as much of the negativity as possible from your life, you will find joy in aging. And if the task seems too overwhelming, consider working with a retirement coach. It will be well worth the small investment you’ll have to make. There is not time to waste. You have so much to share with your loved ones from the playbook of wisdom and memories you’ve created. Now that’s a legacy worth sharing and a joy to celebrate.
Population aging is inevitable in societies where you have a combination of declining birth rates and longer life due to medical advancements. It imposes new realities for these societies, link where they simply cannot afford to set an aging population adrift without the necessary programs and services to help them remain productive members of that society. It is disheartening to hear leaders label aging members of the societies as economically unproductive; or to see politicians treat aging as if it is a scourge on society, ambulance where members of this growing club are seen as nothing more than a tax drain. Building more housing complexes that serve to isolate this generation from the youth of these societies is not the answer either.
What business and government fail to see is that today’s aging population is eager to contribute fully to society. Like Jack Kornfield, search author and Buddhist Practitioner, Boomers are asking: “How can I live in a way that maximizes, that fulfills the capacity for wakefulness, love, freedom, liberation of the human heart?” One way is to create opportunities that reconnect the generations in meaningful and valuable ways. We need better approaches to facilitate the contribution of aging members of our societies well into the later stages of life. We need to make government funding available to cover the costs associated with creating new programs that promote the well-being of all generations. Our children and their children are starving for role models and mentors as they try to figure out this crazy world they live in, whether in matters of life or work. The opportunities are unlimited to create the Utopian societies we all dream about.
1. At School
- Invite the newly retired to help overwhelmed teachers with curriculum activities or to help children with special needs.
- Partner Boomers with school counsellors to offer additional support to young people who are struggling with stress.
- Involve Boomers in after school and local youth programs such as the YMCA.
- Partner with libraries to start reading programs for children who have trouble reading.
2. In community
- Create volunteer programs to replace the music and arts programs that the schools can no longer afford to fund. These programs enrich us all.
- Start new programs designed with children in mind through the local rotary clubs and legions.
- Start genealogy clubs so children can learn about their ancestors.
- Start cross-generational clubs at your church and involve youth.
- Start home cooking classes and invite young people to socialize, cook and share meals and great conversations. Get them away from technology.
- Use technology to match the interest of retirees with the needs of children.
3. At Work
- Find ways to involve soon-to-be-retired employees in activities and projects that help prepare the next generation of workers to take on leadership roles.
- Invite retirees to participate in events that showcase career opportunities at your organization for those that are just beginning to consider post-secondary education and careers.
- Get retirees involved in spreading goodwill about the company where they spent a career. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of goodwill.
4. At Home
- Partner with home builders to design and build inclusive communities that house multi-generations instead of housing that isolates the generations. Draw on successful models in Scandinavian countries.
- Create neighbourhood activities that foster interaction between old and young.
John F. Kennedy once said: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” This newest generation of seniors is ready to take on that new kind of leadership, one where they teach, but where they learn as much as they teach. And the younger generation is more than ready to teach the older generation. The collective experiences, insights and wisdom of Boomers beg to be openly shared with youth. The younger generations benefit from being exposed to new perspectives that enhance their understanding and it promotes well-being and development. The older generations benefit from maintaining invaluable connections with youth. The issue of ageism disappears and a new sense of purpose and contribution is ignited. It seems governments, businesses, schools and communities have important choices to make about how they will embrace this growing population segment. The best way to ensure the elders of a society remain vibrant and productive members is to facilitate their involvement, to liberate them to become all they are capable of becoming. By liberating them, society builds the foundation for paying forward generation after generation. Everyone wins. Utopia may not be that far-fetched after all.
In 1999, medicine it cost only $70 to build a well in Uganda; yet most families had to travel many miles each day to find safe drinking water. Ryan Hreljac, a 7-year old boy from Ottawa heard about this and was so moved that he started a campaign at his school and raised $70 to build his first well in Uganda. Seventeen years later, his foundation, Ryan’s Well, has helped build wells and latrines – the most basic needs for good hygiene – for close to a million people. Ryan provides resources and know-how, but more importantly he provides a legacy of self-sufficiency.
His story got me thinking about what legacies are really made of. The dictionary describes the word legacy as “a law, a gift of property, especially personal property, by will or bequest.” That’s all fine and good, but what if we don’t’ have any money or personal belongings to leave behind? Does this mean we can’t leave a legacy? This definition also suggests that a legacy doesn’t happen until we die. It seems to me that our most important legacy is NOT something we leave behind; but rather it is molded and shaped by the actions we take while we’re here on earth. It’s too late to worry about legacies when we’re on our death bed.
If I was asked, I would define legacy as: “a gift of self or resources, in life and after; given to others through love, compassion and integrity; an inspiration for future generations.” This definition feels more encompassing and complete.
In many ways, we’re hardwired to help each other and legacies are a way of doing just that. Legacies also come in different shapes and sizes. Some we wish we could forget like the Legacies of Shame – The Holocaust and 9/11. There’s no question those legacies were fuelled by misguided ideologies and while we’d like to wash away the stains they’ve left, they’re too deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. But there are many more great legacies.
- There are Legacies of Means - for those who have more money than they can ever spend in a lifetime. Warren Buffet, the multi-billionaire owner of Berkshire Hathaway, recently created a philanthropist club. To join this very exclusive club, you must 1) be a billionaire and 2) you must commit to giving at least 75% of your net worth to your favourite charities. Sara Blakely, the owner of Spanx and Bill Gates of Microsoft are among the club’s 143 members.
- There are Lasting Legacies – those that keep on giving, like Terry Fox’s Annual Marathon of Hope, whose foundation has raised over $650M for cancer research so far. Terry far surpassed his dream of raising $1 for each Canadian. There is Andre Agassi’s (former USA tennis player) Preparatory School that gives poor kids in Vegas – a city synonymous with excesses – an opportunity to prepare for and attend post-secondary education.
- There are Legacies of Compassion that help the most vulnerable members of society. Mother Theresa says she felt called to work with the “poorest of the poor”. Today, 517 of her missions operate in over 100 countries. It’s not surprising she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Mark and Craig Keilburger, two Canadian kids, started the WE DAY movement to inspire young people around the world to lead global change, right in their own communities. Their annual rally celebrates the accomplishments and fuels the inspiration of those amazing young people.
These are all admiral legacies in their own right and I am the first to applaud the incredibly positive impact these legacies have. But we must not forget the most important Legacies of You and Me; those small everyday expressions of love and acts of compassion that come from teaching our children to be kind; helping a friend who’s going through a rough patch or mentoring youth.
The greatest legacies have less to do with money or Grandma’s antique butter dish, and more to do with the way we treat the people we love, while we’re here. Maya Angelou captured the essence of legacy when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The emotional connections we have with each other are the stuff that the best legacies are made of.
Ryan Hreljac is still only 24 years old today. Imagine the legacy he’ll create in his lifetime, and it all started with $70 and a big dream. You can find more information about his charity at www.ryanswell.ca. The footprint we choose to leave on this planet is ours to decide, but let’s be sure our legacies are not defined by chance or by historians. What will the legacy you are building today say about you tomorrow?
“This is a new and different world. The challenge is to cope with it; not just cope but thrive. India, health like life itself I suppose is about what you bring to it.” These are a few words from the script for Judi Dench’s character in the movie, clinic The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011). She reflects on the enormous change she and others have made when they move to India to live out their retired years; when they realize that retirement is a different and uncharted world for the uninitiated. And like any major change, it has its own transition cycle. How we manage through that cycle determines, in large part, how successful we are in managing ourselves through the transition. Six unique stages in transitioning to retirement characterize this change, each one bringing with it a new set of challenges and opportunities.
- Anticipation: Ah! Those delicious dreams of the day when we’ll say: “Hi honey, I’m home, for good.” The light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter each day as we wait with bathed breathe for those wonderful leisurely days when we have time to do what we please instead of meeting the expectations of everyone else. We can see it, we can taste it, we can smell the sweet elixir of a life that is 100% ours to create as we wish
- Arrival: The day has finally arrived. The time around the big day is often loaded with nostalgic thoughts of the great work that was part of our life’s journey for so long, the recognition of all that one has accomplished and a tinge of sadness that it is all coming to an end. It’s time for goodbyes, dinners and celebrations of a full and successful working life. The retirement gift adds to the mood of a joyous, celebratory event. Uncertain of what lies ahead, we nevertheless choose to greet this day with joy and immense hope that all will be fine.
- Excitement: The blissful joy of immersing oneself in the pure pleasure of nothingness. Life feels like one giant vacation. There are projects waiting to be tackled, honey-to lists and vacations to take. All that heady excitement has one believing that life is one giant leisurely stroll.
- Questioning: Then the questions start coming. “What now? Am I becoming irrelevant? Why do I feel so disconnected? What is my purpose now? The emails, calls and lunch invitations from former colleagues slow or stop. The days feel longer somehow. The excitement has worn off and the realities of being “retired” set in. Thoughts of starting something new or wondering what else to do to keep busy and engaged start taking up more space and time. It is during this period that we are most vulnerable, where it is easy to get caught up in brooding over regrets, lost opportunities and things that never were or never will be.
- Reflection: A new period of wonderment sets in and the focus changes from “now what” to “what’s possible” with all the time at our disposal. This period can be very creative and open up new possibilities that were not likely visible before. It’s time to think outside the box and create a whole new bucket list, one that captures our thoughts and dreams, one that is anchored in core values and feeds the soul like never before.
- Acceptance: Once the storm has passed and new ideas have percolated, it’s time to embrace the new norm that is this stage of life and make the most of it. Nerves settle down, emotions steady and reality becomes clearer. Life becomes easier.
The event itself of “retirement” is wholesale and free of emotions, but the transition that ensues is often emotionally charged and an extremely personal journey that sways on a pendulum from fear to exhilaration, often at the same time. The transition can only be understood by those who are having the experience as they move through these six transitory stages. The good news is that humans are hardwired to manage change and, in large part, successfully. Change creates opportunities for new and once unimaginable growth to take shape and forces one to leave behind a part of the essence of the current self in order to grow more magnificent in the emerging self. Instead of going through a cycle questioning relevance and what’s next, what if we moved stage 5 – reflection, before retirement actually begins? That would accelerate and smooth the transition process. Reflection would allow for insights and clarity to bubble up and for new possibilities to emerge. Rather than leave retirement to change or to fate, why not take charge and make it happen, on your own terms? Let’s make sure we are thriving, not simply coping.
There is no question Boomers are re-writing the script that defines retirement. They no longer fancy a life of uninterrupted leisure, stomach but rather look for opportunities to develop and the right mix of productive activities. One important component of that mix is work. According to a 2014 survey of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 27% of Boomers over the age of 65 participate in the workforce and this number is expected to grow to 32% by 2022. Statistics Canada and the rest of the G8 countries show similar numbers.
Why are Boomers working in such large numbers?
As more information emerges, we are gaining a clearer understanding of the reason Boomers work beyond age 65. Money, it seems, is not a primary reason. A recent Merrill Lynch found that Boomers work:
- To stay mentally and physically active
- For social connections
- To maintain a sense of identity/self-worth
- For take on new challenges
- For the money and benefits
What type of work are Boomers doing?
Starting a business is high on the list for Boomers who plan to continue working beyond age 65. Four out of ten want to start their own business. Another 40% want to work part-time and the rest plan to work a full work week, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. You can find Boomers in politics, in media and across a wide spectrum of in businesses; whether they are working for themselves or for others. A number of movie stars are also working well beyond the traditional age where they were considered “over the hill”. Betty White, a young 94 year old, and Morgan Freeman, 79, are in demand more than ever. You will also find many Boomers pursuing new fields of studies.
Retirement is now a dynamic and fluid process
Boomers no longer relate to the traditional view of working 40 years, getting a gold watch and fading into the sunset to play bingo and for lawn bowling. While they won’t miss the deadlines, heavy workloads and commutes when they do retire, they will miss the social connections and intellectual stimulation that work provides. More than anything, Boomers want to stay relevant, make use of their talents and mentor the younger generations of workers. It’s great to see companies develop age-friendly workplaces to accommodate workers across 4 or 5 generations. That’s a positive sign for Boomers who want to continue working beyond traditional retirement – whatever “traditional” means anymore. The day is fast approaching when we will no longer ask: When are you retiring? Instead, we will ask: What kind of work is keeping you busy these days?
Barbara Beskind is 91 years old and on the payroll at IDEO, viagra 100mg a design and innovation consulting firm in Silicon Valley. She still commutes to work one day a week. Three years ago she saw an episode on CBS’s 60 Minutes about IDEO and decided she’d like to work there. They hired her and today she is busy developing a portable airbag to help older people prevent serious injuries when they fall. Barbara is undoubtedly someone who has figured out how to enrich her retired life. Enrichment in retirement is supported by four key anchors or wellbeing – physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual.
Physical wellbeing is achieved through good health, fulfilling work and financial well-being. We can ensure good health by eating a balanced diet, getting enough physical activity and maintaining a positive outlook. Fulfilling work is also essential to wellbeing. While work takes on a different meaning in retirement, it continues to contribute to a sense of purpose. It may include maintaining a home, continuing to work in some capacity at a paid job, volunteering or caring for our grandchildren. The challenge is to find work that satisfies our needs and at the same time, doesn’t feel like drudgery or a burden. Financial wellbeing is also important. It is essentially measured by the amount of income we have and our ability to comfortably manage any debt load. According to the Globe and Mail, 43% percent of retirees carry debt. Debt is a reality. The challenge is to find the recipe that works best so that we can live worry free and focused on the lifestyle we can afford.
According to a Statistics Canada Report on social activities, 87% of retirees have either no social activities in their life or only one. Emotional wellbeing comes from the quality of social relationships we have with family, friends, life partners, and through work or volunteer activities. These relationships are critical to nurture wellbeing and to contribute to the wonderful memories we create. It is essential, therefore, to seek out those relationships that give us the greatest joy. Rather than wait for others to invite us to connect, we may need to create opportunities to connect with others.
While religion may have lost some of its influence in the last fifty years, studies show that spiritual wellbeing plays a greater role in retirement (Clark and Schellenberg, 2006). As we age we are more likely to attribute more importance to spiritual beliefs. Perhaps it’s because we gain clarity on the values and principles we cherish and the philosophies that guide the actions we take in life. Spiritual wellbeing comes from having a sense of purpose and a connection with the greater community we live in. It is also expressed in the compassion and love we show others and by acting on what our heart calls us to do in every aspects of our retirement life. Seeking guidance or working with a professional coach can be very helpful in redefining our passions and direction in retirement.
Intellectual wellbeing helps us to understand ourselves, our environment and the leisure activities that bring us the greatest joy. You may be surprised to learn that only 10% of the retired population continues to participate in educational activities after age 65, according to Statistics Canada. That’s a troubling stat, given the well documented research that shows learning as the best way to stay intellectually healthy. It isn’t for lack of opportunity to continue to learn. Many universities offer free courses for seniors over the age of 60, on a host of topics; and there are countless conferences to attend. When we appreciate what is present in our environment we’re at our best. At this point in our lives, the most rewarding leisure activities should leave us feeling refreshed and include fun activities with our spouses, families and friends. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
Regular renewal is a critical part of maintaining wellbeing and retirement provides the perfect opportunity for renewal of these four anchors. It is one of the smartest investments we can make to support a rich retirement life. Renewal reduces stress, promotes peace of mind, enhances well-being and promotes integrity with our truest purpose. Tending to these four anchors will ensure an incredible legacy for our loved ones, support independence and ensures a retirement life that is rich with possibilities. And isn’t that what we all wish for? Barbara Beskind (full story at http://n.pr/1cLo0kR ) is certainly an inspiration to us all.
When Ian retired a few years ago, unhealthy I found myself wishing for the day when I could announce my own retirement. A few months later I saw him and asked how he was enjoying retirement. “I hate it, malady I never should have retired,” he said. He identified so strongly with his work that without it he felt lost. Unfortunately he’s in good company. According to Statistics Canada, 64% of retirees express some regrets within 1 to 3 years of full retirement. There are several reasons why 2 out of every 3 retirees regret their decision.
- Few people take time to plan for the lifestyle they hope to have in retirement. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, only 14% of Boomers actually plan for the lifestyle they want, while most plan financially to some extent.
- Boomers are living longer which may lure them into thinking that there is no rush to plan. The pressure mounts when they find themselves unexpectedly out of work and retired with little to no time to plan a smooth transition. We all want to retire on our own terms but it doesn’t always work out that way.
- Boomers define what retirement means for them differently than their parents did. With more choices than ever before, unlimited possibilities and fewer role models to guide them, it’s easy to see why many feel lost or uncertain about what retirement will look like.
- Many want to continue to work beyond age 60 or 65, but they often face age barriers from companies who haven’t quite caught up to the benefits of mature workers.
One way to avoid finding yourself retired and wishing you hadn’t is to look at this transition as “un-retirement” – a combination of work, volunteerism and leisure – rather than the traditional view of retirement. This new perspective examines all the possibilities available to you so you can continue to contribute, on your own terms. One way to ensure that your retirement lifestyle is the one you really want to pursue is to take time to ask yourself these questions.
- Work: Do I want to continue to work in some capacity? What will that look like? For how long?
- Health: What activities will I build into my daily routine to stay active and healthy?
- Financial: What adjustments will I have to make financially to fit my new retirement lifestyle?
- Leisure: What leisure activities do I want to pursue (e.g. hobbies, travel)
- Family: How important is it that I live near my children and grandchildren?
- Friends: Are there common interests and leisure activities we might pursue together?
- Life Partner: What interests do my life partner and I have? Which ones are different?
- Community: How involved do I want to be in my community? How much time will I give?
- Knowledge: Is there something I’d like to learn more about (e.g. genealogy, philosophy)?
- Environment: Where do I want to live and what type of home do I want or need?
- Spiritually: Will my spiritual practice evolve in retirement? How?
- Sense of self: What activities will help me maintain a high level of optimism and self-esteem?
These questions are designed to get you thinking about and gain insights into what your unique un-retirement might look like. The full answers may only come in retirement. That’s OK. The aim is to help you identify the hopes and dreams you have for your retirement. Take time now to do a little more lifestyle planning will help you feel good about your decision to retire and give you lots to look forward to. The hard work of career building is done now. It’s time to enjoy all that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
If I asked you what hopes you have for your retirement, cost what would you say? You might be surprised to hear that most people say they don’t want to stop working. The answer seems counterintuitive to the notion we have about what retirement should be, treatment doesn’t it? But for a generation who measures much of its self-worth on their career, imagining a life without work is a scary proposition.
When I ask participants in my seminars if they have a retirement lifestyle plan, most say they don’t. They usually have a financial plan but not a lifestyle plan. According to a survey conducted by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, only 14% of Fiftysomethings make a lifestyle plan. Stats Canada also found that 2 in 3 new retirees express some regrets within the first 3 years of their retirement. Lack of lifestyle planning may very well be the reason why so many are struggling during the first few years of retirement.
Next to establishing a career and raising a family, retirement is one of the biggest transitions we make in our lifetime. It challenges every part of life – social, physical, intellectual and spiritual. To engage fully in a retirement lifestyle that is meaningful and filled with purpose, we must have a good sense of what it is we hope to achieve. It can be helpful to think of how we want to show up, how we want our STaR to shine in retirement.
In the early stages of retirement, it’s natural to feel lost in a sea of murky waters, without a clear view of what lies ahead. During the early stages friendships from work began to drift away and daily routines are unclear. It’s a time when we feel compelled to re-confirm the values we hold dear, and we may find ourselves struggling with our new identity as “retirees”. It’s the perfect time to ask ourselves what retirement will mean exactly; what we’re going to do with all the free time we have. There are only so many golf games to be played and trips to take before we realize that we want more out of retirement. Lifestyle planning in invaluable to gain clarity on the interests and dreams we want to pursue in retirement and to do a reality check of what’s possible. Ideally the planning starts long before retirement officially happens.
Once the murky waters begin to clear, most retirees emerge with clearer goals and a newfound purpose. They find meaningful ways to stay productive and have a better understanding of what they need to do to stay physically and intellectually active. This may include work, volunteering or finding other outlets to contribute to society in rich and engaging ways. Learning is also important. Those who thrive have found the sweet spot in the lifestyle they want in retirement. Life has a new pace that feels right. They realize that they are no longer infatuated with the notion of what might have been and are content to simply enjoy life. Research shows that spiritually, in the broader sense of the word, takes on a new level of importance in retirement.
Later in retirement the time comes to reconcile those things that no longer serve us well. That time comes, early on, midway through or at the end of retirement when we make peace with what never was or will be. We settle differences that drain our energy and restore harmony in our lives. It’s an individual process that has no best before date.
Retirement has its own unique cycle and every retiree moves through the cycle at their own pace. It is a time of personal growth that offers an opportunity to put the spotlight on what’s most meaningful to you – a time to become the STaR of your own life. It is also a time to polish the rough edges of a legacy that will inspire younger generations.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” In his book, and P.S. I love You (1990), prescription author, viagra dosage H. Jackson Brown Jr. attributed this quote to his mother. It is an “a propos” reflection for the thousands of Boomers who are embarking on their own retirement journey.
There is no question that Boomers are re-inventing the concept of retirement. Whether they are contemplating retirement, embarking on this new journey or settling into a period of what would best be described as “un-retirement”; they are all busy figuring out the next twenty plus years will look like. Boomers are looking at retirement differently than previous generations because their life was shaped and influenced by a vastly different world than in previous generations.
- Boomers were raised in a time of prosperity when anything seemed possible. Their parents were raised during the great depression.
- Boomers experienced the explosion of technology and the birth of a knowledge economy which opened access to the world.
- Boomers married later in life and had 1.5 children, on average, compared to 3.5 for their parents. The offspring of Boomers were raised with more liberal values.
- Boomers were, and still are idealists. They pushed the boundaries on important social issues including gender and racial equality. They were game changers when they were young adults and they still are today.
- Boomers were the first generation where dual careers and dual incomes were the norm; but that doesn’t mean they are better off financially.
- Boomers tended to be more nomadic as they pursued career opportunities. They were more likely to live in suburbia. Their parents were community builders.
- Boomers were shaped by a global perspective which opened up a myriad of new possibilities that were not available in previous generations.
- Boomers had access to higher education as a norm, while many of their parents left school to work after the 8th or 10th grade.
- Boomers had and continue to have better and more access to healthcare. Because of advances in healthcare, the average life span has increased by 15 years longer than previous generations. This means much more time spent in retirement.
So how do these influences shape retirement differently for Boomers? With an idealism that is embedded in their DNA and not easily tempered, Boomers aren’t quite ready for lawn bowling, bingo night, or a good game of cards. That may come later. They have many more goals to accomplish and dreams to chase. Armed with good health and lots of energy, they are ready to tackle new challenges. They are hungry to learn more about the world and its cultures; to consider new philosophies and explore the breath of their spirituality.
This new generation of retirees has the time and resources to make significant contributions to humanity and to the planet, whether it’s eradicating poverty, advocating for the environment or promoting peace. They have longevity on their side which allows them to continue to make meaningful contributions to society for many more years to come. Forget retirement! Hello un-retirement!
Dianne is a certified coach who helps Boomers to create rich and inspired lifestyle plans for their retirement. In her new book: If There Are No Limits… A guide to living with passion, purpose and possibilities, she explores how we navigate the dynamics of continual change in our lives. For more information, visit the book page on this website.
When Ian retired a few years ago, viagra I felt envious and wished for the day when I could announce my own retirement. A few months later I asked him how he was enjoying retirement. “I hate it, cialis I never should have retired,” he said. He identified strongly with his work and felt lost with all the idle time at his disposal. Unfortunately Ian’s in good company. According to Statistics Canada, 64% of retirees express regret within the first three years of retirement.
One of the biggest fears Boomers have about retirement is becoming irrelevant. In a world that values youth, status and achievement; it’s easy to see why one could feel irrelevant when they stop working. It is almost impossible to fit those values into retirement. It doesn’t help either that the Webster dictionary defines retirement as withdrawal from life, isolation and loneliness, retreat and departure. Is this where we got the idea that when we reach 65, we’re done and no longer relevant? This definition certainly doesn’t fit the perspective of an idealist generation like the Boomers.
This newest generation of retirees sees retirement as the beginning of a new life chapter that is embracing and engaging, one that needs a new set of values. We also need a new word for retirement; and who better to find that new word than Boomers – the re-inventers of everything. Some say retirement is not for the faint at heart. A fresh perspective and a new lifestyle plan will go a long way to help this generation build a highly relevant and meaningful retirement life.
Ask New Questions
Begin by asking – What am I in this chapter of my life? Now that I’m no longer racing off to work to service customers, lead organizations or build houses, what am I? Now that I’m no longer busy caring for my family, what am I? Then ask – now that I’m heading into a different stage of life, who am I? These are not easy questions, but they are necessary to challenge a perspective that may no longer fit.
Go on a QUEST
- Question – Explore what passions are still unfulfilled and what new opportunities exist. This will help you to create a new purpose for this chapter.
- Understand – Consider what’s important around the four anchors of life – mind, body, soul and spirit, to find what you want to do in retirement.
- Evaluate – Select the things that are most important such as social connections, projects, community activities and wellness. Then add spice with a variety of meaningful leisure activities.
- Secure knowledge – Be open to learning new things. With time to spare, learning something new may very well lead you to pursue items on your bucket list that you never knew you could do.
- Treasure insights – You have tons of wisdom to share. Find every opportunity you can to share your experiences and knowledge with younger generations. They will be richer for it.
Retirement is Renewal
Look at retirement as a new beginning and a period of renewal; where you rediscover the dreams you had put on the back burner or find new dreams to pursue. Make time to “sharpen the saw” as Stephen Covey wrote about in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Reconnect with extended family and old friends. This is the time when you can do the things that bring you the greatest joy. You also have the luxury of time to really care for yourself, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.
Since there is no recipe on what Boomers should be doing in retirement, we get to define it our own terms. The list of possibilities is unlimited. The idealism that is in the DNA of this generation should serve us well as we begin this new and exciting chapter. Retirement from work is inevitable, but retirement from life is optional. And becoming irrelevant isn’t even on the radar.