Retirement not for old folks anymore

Friday, April 3, 2009

The word retirement conjures images of rocking chairs, sunsets and shuffleboard -- and the big night out every week is a bus ride to the bingo hall.

For young people and even those who are approaching the top of that hill, these ideas are about as attractive as a long, slow root canal without Novocain.

Many experts in the mental and physical health fields now take the view that retirement doesn't mean retreating from life, but rather, embracing it and all the things that drive our passions and fuel our fire.

They say the current version of retirement doesn't work because we are living too long to be satisfied with a life that is focused primarily on leisure. To make this stage of life meaningful, it needs to be shaped according to the values and preferences of each individual. They say that's not as easy as it sounds and we need more resources to help us find the right things to create a satisfying life once we are old enough to retire.

The 100% leisure model of retirement ("The Golden Years") is just a marketing spin for "get out of the way."

We need some kind of work to thrive once we retire, even if we don't do it for pay. Retiring doesn't mean we have to stop making a difference.

By this time in our lives, each of us has a unique set of skills, talents and abilities. We need to mesh that with a personal sense of what's important to define our own individual sense of purpose.

Living through our sense of purpose is as essential as breathing. Once we lose that, we lose the ability to make the choices we need to thrive.

Much of what we blame on aging is really the result of mindset and lifestyle decisions. It is within our capability to change and alter those elements of our lives, and master our destiny, rather than be a slave to circumstances.

The RV model might work for some, but most of us need a goal to work toward to feel worthwhile. To retire well, we need to learn how to include that and still relax and have fun.