WE MUST REDEFINE RETIREMENT…A CRUSADE

I know I wrote before about the retreating and passive connotations of the word Retirement.  But I just have to revisit that conversation in light of two events that happened to me.

While I know that this comment was well-intentioned, I bristled when someone looked at me the other day with a bit of pity in his eyes commenting “I can still remember the day my father retired.”  From his tone, it sounded like he was talking about the day his father died…or at a minimum, that day was the end of his road and clearly not a new and exciting beginning.   That’s clearly not today’s mantra—far from it.    I mean, how many people today want that “gold retirement watch”…and more importantly, how many people received one?  Just as many Baby Boomers forged a new reality in our careers and work life, many are doing the same thing with retirement.   We don’t look like our parents did when they were our age and we aren’t approaching our futures in the same way that they did either.   Honestly, we aren’t our parent’s generation and we’re not sinking into “retirement oblivion” when we leave the work force!!!

And here’s the second thing that happened:  To “congratulate” me (and you’ll see why I put that word in quotes in a minute) someone sent me a massive coffee table book sized journal book titled Retirement.  In it were hundreds of pages in which you could HAND WRITE memories of your childhood, teenage years, college experiences, favorite events of your life etc etc etc.  First of all, how many people who are retiring today still hand write….rather than type into a computer.  But more importantly, is there really a Baby Boomer retiring in 2017 and beyond who wants to spend the next X years looking BACKWARDS????   No one I know…that’s for sure!

Bottom line:  Everyone I’ve spoken to is busy looking FORWARD…focusing on the FUTURE….what will make them happy for the next 20 years.  Spending your days dwelling on the past seems like a waste of the next 20 years.  I’ve lived the past years and now I want to do something different going forward than just “re-living” the past.   Perhaps for our parent’s generation, when life expectancy was shorter and opportunities in retirement more limited, your past was the only thing you could hold on to.  Not today…There’s a whole world out there to be explored and experienced…and you can’t do that sitting and writing with a quill pen in your mega-large journal.  

Look around and you’ll see that so many of us have a  whole lot of gas left in the tank. Retirement isn’t the END of the road…it’s  assuredly a new BEGINNING.  This is definitively a totally unfamiliar road and one you have to learn to drive on.  Just like the fact that even experienced drivers need to take time to figure out how to drive on the Autobahn.  And in the same way, we Baby Boomers who are retiring must chart new paths and adopt new skills and see life in a different or new perspective.  But it’s not necessarily slowing down, although it may be.  But it is DECIDEDLY NOT LOOKING IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR!!! For those of us who choose to retire and those who are forced to…it is a NEW dawning and time to be treasured.  The old rules of the road are just outdated.  

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