My 81-year-old Aunt Ginny has a theory. As soon as you admit you’re old (for her, that means getting a knee replacement and moving out of her two-level townhouse), that’s when you actually become old. While her implementation of that theory may be a bit extreme, I think she really does have a point, particularly when it comes to retirement.
Defined as “to withdraw from office, business, or active life, usually because of age” or “to withdraw or remove oneself,” retirement quite simply means a retreat. Too often, people take the word literally, going from working in an office full of people and using their brains to solve challenging problems to watching TV all day in their pajamas. Now, that’s a guaranteed fast track to old age!
While you certainly deserve a break after a long career, the dictionary definition of retirement does not have to define this stage in your life. Here are some suggestions on how to not retreat, but move forward instead:
- Pursue your passion. If you are passionate about what you do, why would you want to stop doing it? In fact, some of the most successful people have continued practicing their craft right up until the end. It’s OK to slow down, maybe even switch to a new version of what you’re doing (from painting to sculpture, CEO to consultant), but when you give up something you love, losing your sense of purpose can’t be far behind.
- Switch paths. Maybe you never really loved your chosen profession and retiring from that job couldn’t come soon enough. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to find a job that you do Talk to people, search the internet, volunteer and maybe even take on a part-time job or two until you find work that ignites that flame or at least gives you a sense of satisfaction.
- Stay involved. If you’ve put in your time and simply don’t want the hassle of any sort of “j-o-b” anymore, there are plenty of other ways to stay engaged. Join a book club or Bible study, meet your friends for a weekly meal, take classes at your local community college, attend webinars, listen to podcasts and read everything you can get your hands on.
As long as you keep doing what gives you satisfaction, stimulation and a sense of purpose, retirement could be a whole new chapter for you!