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Retirement – or is it?

Tired?  No!  
Happy – yes!  
Flexible – yes!  
More time – yes! 

How about a paradigm shift and a new definition of retirement… 

I mean if you think about it…   

Being tired and then re-entering ‘tirement’ is quite something … 

the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work’.  – Google

Retirement, according to the dictionary, means to “withdraw from one’s position or occupation or from active working life.”

Interesting, all to do with a job, a position and income…!  Our question then:

Most people grow up to become something – a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a journalist, a mother…. A something.  Thus, who are we – what are we – when we are no longer that? 

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Retirement  could be that ‘step-off’ the rat race into something far more abundant and exciting.  One could ask:  

Retirement?  No, no, no! Realignment?  Yes, yes, yes! .   

You will be leaving some things behind – some things that you will miss, but other things you most certainly won’t!  Find new things to engage and excite, infuse and inspire you! 

However, no matter how you look at it, retirement remains a major life event!  If voluntary, excitement – possibly even trepidation – may await, yet, if imposed, it could lead to resentment and anger. 

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Retirement needs to be planned and carefully approached.  It is important to acknowledge that there is LOSS involved in retiring, thus a period of appropriate reflection and grieving helps to move on and recognise that retirement is one of life‘s important milestones which offer new pathways.  If one is retiring from a long, important career, there is inevitably the loss of identity, purpose and routine.

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As with all important moves and milestones, no major life decisions (like moving to the country/coast) should be made in the first year.  It is a period of distress and exploration – letting go of the past at the same time as thinking about future possibilities.  Exploration involves trying on different things for size, some can be embraced and some discarded and that should be seen as part of the transition – certainly nothing negative if some of the explorations don’t work.   

The keyword here is ACCEPTANCE! 

 It takes time to discard the tyranny of a timetable, organisation, watch, the incessant push to achieve… 

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Difficulty with anything that ceases (work/job in this case) is that one is/was FIXATED on that at too high a level.  The activity which now has to be relinquished, is perceived to have DEFINED the person.  One must cross that bridge first and foremost and put it behind one.  Stop dwelling on that activity, accept and look FORWARD.  The difficulty is that FUTURE is perceived as a VOID.  It is imperative to fill that void—and that is very person dependent.  The inevitable challenge is that the fixation goes hand-in-hand with a dearth in other interests such as hobbies.  One cannot conjure up an interest out of nothing.  This leads to a search for possible options.  Requirements for one or a combination of (new) interests are, that it has to address the whole person —emotionally, mentally and physically.    

It is important to generate a road map. The person is at a specific point/junction in life, which is the starting point of the new journey; the historic road (work/job) is no longer an option, and there has to be a decision generally in which direction/directions to proceed.  Waypoints and a time scale is helpful: have a target—quarterly/annually.  

Guard against over hasty decisions, BECAUSE: What come next are COMMITMENT, ENTHUSIASM and PERSEVERANCE, which can be achieved only when the person believes in the destinations.   

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Do not neglect ENJOYMENT, which is the fuel which fires COMMITMENT, ENTHUSIASM and PERSEVERANCE. 

The truth remains – it is daunting.  The person you were before you started working had long since been forgotten, but if you dig deep, you can remember who you were.  Who were you before work and kids and life got in the way?  Who were you born to be…?   

If you can remember your hobbies, dreams & aspirations and bring them to the front of your life again and try to see if you can rekindle something you lost whilst being a grown up at work, you have a chance to RESTRUCTURE your life and have a reason to do stuff you haven’t done in years. 

Whilst retirement is an ending it is also the beginning of the next phase of life – some call it the third age/stage – there are endless possibilities if you can turn your gaze in a new direction, make new connections and friendships. 

Friendship and connection seem to be two themes that keep coming up when talking about acceptance, moving forward and enjoying this time.  Whether it be spending time with peers or making new friends and even joining a new club, this would create a sense of belonging and give the retiree something to look forward to.  

Although it is important not to get hung up on names/labels, it is important to figure out what it all means to oneself.  Try some of these words on to fit: 

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Some people find it difficult to grieve the losses of the phase they are ending and one cannot move into the next phase until one has done exactly that. It is a transition with a backwards and forwards motion. In the end, no one definition fits everyone, yet it might be helpful to know that other people are also experiencing a range of emotions with this life transition. This phase usually goes hand in hand with the loss of youth and sometimes health, thus also coming to terms with the ageing process. It could feel like a roller coaster ride until you find the courage to hit the RESET button and move forward with as much humour and creativity you can muster. Spend less time looking back and focussing on what you’ve lost, and more time on making new and exciting plans with all the extra time you have. Find the meaning of retirement YOU ARE HAPPY AND EXCITED to live with.

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A Few Ideas: 









The Spanish description for retirement… In English quite clearly JUBILATION is to make a joyful noise – now THAT is a theme for my life’s SWAN-SONG! 


Make an impact, social contribution.  Perhaps the most important contribution we have ever made? 


Do we ever really grow up?  We just keep growing and learning! 


To ripen and bring maturity. 


When your values become more important than money or work.  Or working on something that you value/love! 


Suz x

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