Start the first lesson on retirement — make time your friend. This is what I learned from surveying 125 individuals, ages 55-96.
Whenever you define what retirement age is for you, it means that you have experienced the luxury of living enough years to gather perspectives on the circle-of-life journey. Likely, you probed yourself with poignant questions:
- When is it time to retire?
- Where do I plan to live?
- What delivers passion and purpose for me?
- Who do I want to “spend” time with now?
I found that people grapple with circle-of-life issues in a colorful variety of ways. From surveying, here are some answers to the first question:
57, female (works 30 hours/week): “I have a fear of becoming irrelevant to society as my parents experienced after their retirement…I made a cognitive switch from deriving my identity from work/success to valuing living life and experiences, spending more time with family and friends. I cut-back work after my mother died.”
59, male (works 40 hours/week, volunteers 8 hours/week): “I do not plan to retire.”
62, female (works 35 hours/week): “You have to have a plan before retiring so your retirement years don’t lead to depression. Do some of the grief-work before retirement.”
69, male (retired 7 years): “Retirement means a re-assessment, a retooling, a re-evaluation…I want to be more of who I was meant to be.”
70, male (retired 3 years): “Initially I had loss of prestige, identity (career), income, but now I can sleep, and dictate my schedule, exercise.”
71, female (semi-retired 6 years): “I didn’t want to totally retire…Stopping abruptly wasn’t for me. I had a career, not just a job…I missed the day-to-day interaction with colleagues…[who] were busy and I needed to email and keep in contact with them.”
81, female (works 10-20 hours a week): “I tried to retire, but I was too bored and cranked it back up. Now I have a revived private practice of up to 20 sessions per week…people are not retiring from the university because they don’t know what to do with their time.”
83, male (works 6 hours/week; volunteers 1 hour/week): “I’m enjoying being semi-retired perhaps more than I expected…a blessing of retirement…is greater freedom of choice about how to spend my time.
94, female (retired 29 years, volunteering varies): “Time for reading, Pilates, getting together with friends, and volunteer work.”
95, male (retired 30 years): “It seems strange to have so much free time.”
Encore adults often are skilled workers. They are adept at making strategic choices quickly; they have the capacity for holistic or systems thinking. Releasing a job or career can be viewed as a welcome transition or a psychological deer-in-the-headlights change.
Whatever you decide to do, find meaningful ways to “spend” your precious time.
Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:
58. What is your association to retirement? 59. What fresh start might you begin with today’s time?