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Redefining Retirement

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

I shared with my wonderful 78-year-old friend Cheryl that I like to write about retirement to which she said, “I hate the word retirement! It needs to be changed to ‘rejuvenation’”. She is right. We need to retire the word, “retirement”. As I observe Cheryl, I see someone who is rejuvenated as she embraces life in her later years. Cheryl takes on life full steam ahead. She volunteers in the church office, is president of her golf league and is the longest serving leader of our church Stephen Ministry program. Along with all of these she attends all her grandchildren’s sporting events including those that are held in other states. Cheryl does not look a year over the age of 70 and her youthful energy inspires. It’s not that life has not been tough for Cheryl. It has and she had to navigate the emotional roller coaster that comes with the loss of loved ones along with physical and emotional heartaches. Still Cheryl has taken on this stage in her life finding ways to become rejuvenated. Is she retired? No – not by a long shot. She redefined what this stage in life must be for her and it is not retirement.

What is Retirement Anyway?

According to Merriam Webster retirement is:

a) an act of retiring : the state of being retired

b) withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life

c) the age at which one normally retires reaches retirement, a place of seclusion or privacy

Webster’s synonyms for retirement are pullback, pullout, recession, retreat and withdrawal. Interestingly, the antonyms are advance, advancement.

Perhaps, once upon a time years ago, pulling back, retreating or withdrawing effectively described what happens when people leave the workforce. Is this how you envision the stage that follows your career? Do you plan on receding? Have you stopped growing emotionally or spiritually? I don’t know about you, but this certainly does not reflect what I have been reading and experiencing. This is not what Cheryl chose to do.

The Case for A Life ReLaunched

Instead of considering retirement as a stage in which you withdraw or recede from a career or the workforce, I propose a forward leaning perspective. Do you remember how you felt when you changed jobs, companies or even careers? I know that when I made these changes, I felt a combination of excitement and uncertainty. Excitement for new opportunity and new learning along with uncertainty of what would come next. In what way is this different from the decision to move forward from your career into your next phase?

What do you think of when you hear the word “launch”? I tend to think of a rocket ship taking off into space to explore worlds not known to us. What if we considered our post-career life to be just like that? As if we are on board the Starship Enterprise only instead of exploring worlds unknown, we are exploring who we are, new opportunities that speak to our hearts, meeting new people, growing personally and spiritually, deepening our relationship with our family and friends.

According to Google, “Retirement refers to the time of life when one chooses to permanently leave the workforce behind. The traditional retirement age is 65 in the United States and most other developed countries, many of which have national pension or benefits system in place to supplement retirees' incomes”. Yet this is a one-dimensional perspective of retirement. There are so many more layers to create, design and define to reflect your unique values. This could be equally scary and exciting just like changing careers or moving forward in a career. What I find quite odd is the antonyms of retirement described as advance and advancement. Really? Unlike Webster, I envision this next phase as one of great advancement toward a well-rounded lifestyle that embodies our true selves through emotional and spiritual growth that comes from following our passions. In other words, we arrive at a time when we can move from our career lives into new directions and better suit us. I contend that the antonyms of “retirement” are truly what your post-career timeshould be. This is what a Life ReLaunched is all about.

Does this appeal to you? If so, you are not going into retirement. You are about to embark upon the greatest adventure of your life. One that you define and design. One that is unique to you, your needs, and the lifestyle that fulfills you. A time when, like my friend Cheryl, you become rejuvenated. Are you ready? Then get set and ReLaunch!

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