The new retirement
For the past fifty years, retirement commercials have been promoting the “ideal couple” living the “ideal lifestyle” on the beach or the golf course. But this is nonsense. Not every retiree wants to live like that, nor can every retiree afford to.
Watching such commercials causes retirees a lot of stress. Deep down, most people know that retirement—including theirs—won’t look like that. The problem is, most of them have no idea what their retirement will look like. We need to stop watching and believing those hackneyed, clichéd retirement commercials because they will limit our imagination about what we can do and who we can become.
The retirement distribution curve
As the distribution curve shows, many people, through choice or otherwise, are deviating from the old twentieth century model of full-stop leisure-based retirement, where they suddenly slow down and take it easy; this retirement model is becoming less common because it is outdated and no longer works. In fact, the word “retirement” is far too narrow and is not a good descriptor for what many people are doing today. We need to recognize that and replace it with a better term that reflects what is truly happening and what is possible. Personally, I’m a fan of the term “second life.”
Our “first” life is all about learning, earning and achieving. It involves going to school and then working hard for the next thirty-five-plus years, trying to make as much money as we can to support our family and put some money aside for retirement. Our second life begins when we decide to leave our primary career behind and retire; or maybe that decision is made for you, like it was for me by my employer. The prospect can be terrifying and confusing—or full of possibilities if you plan for it carefully.
Retirement has traditionally been viewed as a finish line achieved after many years of working; in contrast, your second life could be seen as a starting line—a new beginning—a chance at an awesome “second life” based on an optimum mix of work, play and adventure. Like they say, it all depends on how you look at things.
A new study released in May 2022 by Age Wave and Edward Jones, “Longevity and the New Journey of Retirement,” confirms that the way people view retirement is changing rapidly. It’s really important to recognize that retirement is just a phase that was invented, it’s not a natural progression or an essential stage of life. Polling showed that only 27% see it as a time for rest and relaxation, while 55% viewed it as “a new chapter of life.” And 59% of the people polled “want to work in some way during their retirement. They view retirement as an ideal mix of work and leisure. Their primary motivations for working are to stay mentally engaged and financially comfortable.”
If you approach it right, your second life can be your best life; a period of personal renaissance. Your second life can be more creative, more meaningful and more adventurous than your first life was. Think of it as the payoff for all those years of hard work.