Category : A New Kind of Retirement

4 Ways to Embrace An Aging Population And Connect Generations

Population aging is inevitable in societies where you have a combination of declining birth rates and longer life due to medical advancements. It imposes new realities for these societies, where they simply cannot afford to set an aging population adrift without the necessary programs and services to help them remain productive members of that society.  It is disheartening to hear leaders label aging members of the societies as economically unproductive; or to see politicians treat aging as if it is a scourge on society, where members of this growing club are seen as nothing more than a tax drain. Building more housing complexes that serve to isolate this generation from the youth of these societies is not the answer either.

What business and government fail to see is that today’s aging population is eager to contribute fully to society. Like Jack Kornfield, author and Buddhist Practitioner, Boomers are asking: “How can I live in a way that maximizes, that fulfills the capacity for wakefulness, love, freedom, liberation of the human heart?”  One way is to create opportunities that reconnect the generations in meaningful and valuable ways. We need better approaches to facilitate the contribution of aging members of our societies well into the later stages of life. We need to make government funding available to cover the costs associated with creating new programs that promote the well-being of all generations. Our children and their children are starving for role models and mentors as they try to figure out this crazy world they live in, whether in matters of life or work. The opportunities are unlimited to create the utopian societies we all dream about.

  1. At School
  • Invite the newly retired to help overwhelmed teachers with curriculum activities or to help children with special needs.
  • Partner Boomers with school counsellors to offer additional support to young people who are struggling with stress.
  • Involve Boomers in after school and local youth programs such as the YMCA.
  • Partner with libraries to start reading programs for children who have trouble reading.
  1. In community
  • Create volunteer programs to replace the music and arts programs that the schools can no longer afford to fund. These programs enrich us all.
  • Start new programs designed with children in mind through the local rotary clubs and legions.
  • Start genealogy clubs so children can learn about their ancestors.
  • Start cross-generational clubs at your church and involve youth.
  • Start home cooking classes and invite young people to socialize, cook and share meals and great conversations. Get them away from technology.
  • Use technology to match the interest of retirees with the needs of children.
  1. At Work
  • Find ways to involve soon-to-be-retired employees in activities and projects that help prepare the next generation of workers to take on leadership roles.
  • Invite retirees to participate in events that showcase career opportunities at your organization for those that are just beginning to consider post-secondary education and careers.
  • Get retirees involved in spreading goodwill about the company where they spent a career. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of goodwill.
  1. At Home
  • Partner with home builders to design and build inclusive communities that house multi-generations instead of housing that isolates the generations. Draw on successful models in Scandinavian countries.
  • Create neighbourhood activities that foster interaction between old and young.

John F. Kennedy once said: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” This newest generation of seniors is ready to take on that new kind of leadership, one where they teach, but where they learn as much as they teach. And the younger generation is more than ready to teach the older generation. The collective experiences, insights and wisdom of Boomers beg to be openly shared with youth. The younger generations benefit from being exposed to new perspectives that enhance their understanding and it promotes well-being and development. The older generations benefit from maintaining invaluable connections with youth. The issue of ageism disappears and a new sense of purpose and contribution is ignited. It seems governments, businesses, schools and communities have important choices to make about how they will embrace this growing population segment. The best way to ensure the elders of a society remain vibrant and productive members is to facilitate their involvement, to liberate them to become all they are capable of becoming. By liberating them, society builds the foundation for paying forward generation after generation. Everyone wins. Utopia may not be that far-fetched after all.

The Stuff Legacies Are Made Of

In 1999, it cost only seventy dollars to build a well in Uganda; yet most families had to travel many miles each day to find safe drinking water.  Ryan Hreljac, a 7-year old boy from Ottawa heard about this and was so moved that he started a campaign at his school and raised seventy dollars to build his first well in Uganda. Seventeen years later, his foundation, Ryan’s Well, has helped build wells and latrines – the most basic needs for good hygiene – for close to a million people. Ryan provides resources and know-how, but more importantly he provides a legacy of self-sufficiency.

His story made me wonder what legacies are really made of.  The dictionary describes the word legacy as “a law, a gift of property, especially personal property, by will or bequest.” That’s all fine and good, but what if we don’t’ have any money or personal belongings to leave behind? Does this mean we can’t leave a legacy? This definition also suggests that a legacy doesn’t happen until we die. It seems to me that our most important legacy is NOT something we leave behind; but rather it is moulded and shaped by the actions we take while we’re here on earth. It’s too late to worry about legacies when we’re on our death bed.

If I was asked, I would define legacy as: “a gift of self or resources, in life and after; given to others through love, compassion and integrity; an inspiration for future generations.” This definition feels more encompassing and complete.

In many ways, we’re hardwired to help each other and legacies are a way of doing just that. Legacies also come in different shapes and sizes.  Some we wish we could forget like the Legacies of Shame – The Holocaust and 9/11. There’s no question those legacies were fuelled by misguided ideologies and while we’d like to wash away the stains they’ve left, they’re too deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. But there are many more great legacies.

  1. There are Legacies of Means – for those who have more money than they can ever spend in a lifetime. Warren Buffet, the multi-billionaire owner of Berkshire Hathaway, recently created a philanthropist club. To join this very exclusive club, you must 1) be a billionaire and 2) you must commit to giving at least 75% of your net worth to your favourite charities. Sara Blakely, the owner of Spanx and Bill Gates of Microsoft are among the club’s 143 members.
  2. There are Lasting Legacies – those that keep on giving, like Terry Fox’s Annual Marathon of Hope, whose foundation has raised over 650 million dollars for cancer research so far. Terry far surpassed his dream of raising $1 for each Canadian. There is Andre Agassi’s (former USA tennis player) Preparatory School that gives poor kids in Vegas – a city synonymous with excesses – an opportunity to prepare for and attend post-secondary education.
  3. There are Legacies of Compassion that help the most vulnerable members of society. Mother Theresa says she felt called to work with the “poorest of the poor”. Today, 517 of her missions operate in over 100 countries. It’s not surprising she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Mark and Craig Keilburger, two Canadian kids, started the WE DAY movement to inspire young people around the world to lead global change, right in their own communities. Their annual rally celebrates the accomplishments and fuels the inspiration of those amazing young people.

These are all admiral legacies in their own right and I am the first to applaud the incredibly positive impact these legacies have. But we must not forget the most important Legacies of You and Me; those small everyday expressions of love and acts of compassion that come from teaching our children to be kind; helping a friend who’s going through a rough patch or mentoring youth.

The greatest legacies have less to do with money or Grandma’s antique butter dish, and more to do with the way we treat the people we love, while we’re here. Maya Angelou captured the essence of legacy when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The emotional connections we have with each other are the stuff that the best legacies are made of.

Ryan Hreljac is still only 24 years old today. Imagine the legacy he’ll create in his lifetime, and it all started with $70 and a big dream. You can find more information about his charity at  The footprint we choose to leave on this planet is ours to decide, but let’s be sure our legacies are not defined by chance or by historians. What will the legacy you are building today say about you tomorrow?

Navigating The Six Stages Of Retirement

“This is a new and different world. The challenge is to cope with it; not just cope but thrive. India, like life itself, I suppose, is about what you bring to it.” These are a few words from the script for Judi Dench’s character in the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011). She reflects on the enormous change she and others have made when they moved to India to live out their retired years; when they realize that retirement is a different and uncharted world for the uninitiated. And like any major change, it has its own transition cycle. How we manage through that cycle determines, in large part, how successful we are in managing ourselves through the transition. Six unique stages in transitioning to retirement characterize this change, each one bringing with it a new set of challenges and opportunities.

  1. Anticipation: Ah! Those delicious dreams of the day when we’ll say: “Hi honey, I’m home, for good.” The light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter each day as we wait with bathed breathe for those wonderful leisurely days when we have time to do what we please instead of meeting the expectations of everyone else. We can see it, we can taste it, we can smell the sweet elixir of a life that is 100% ours to create as we wish
  2. Arrival: The day has finally arrived. The time around the big day is often loaded with nostalgic thoughts of the great work that was part of our life’s journey for so long, the recognition of all that one has accomplished and a tinge of sadness that it is all coming to an end. It’s time for goodbyes, dinners and celebrations of a full and successful working life. The retirement gift adds to the mood of a joyous, celebratory event. Uncertain of what lies ahead, we nevertheless choose to greet this day with joy and immense hope that all will be fine.
  3. Excitement: The blissful joy of immersing oneself in the pure pleasure of nothingness. Life feels like one giant vacation. There are projects waiting to be tackled, honey-to lists and vacations to take. All that heady excitement has one believing that life is one giant leisurely stroll.
  4. Questioning: Then the questions start coming. “What now?  Am I becoming irrelevant? Why do I feel so disconnected?  What is my purpose now? The emails, calls and lunch invitations from former colleagues slow or stop. The days feel longer somehow. The excitement has worn off and the realities of being “retired” set in. Thoughts of starting something new or wondering what else to do to keep busy and engaged start taking up more space and time. It is during this period that we are most vulnerable, where it is easy to get caught up in brooding over regrets, lost opportunities and things that never were or never will be.
  5. Reflection: A new period of wonderment sets in and the focus changes from “now what” to “what’s possible” with all the time at our disposal. This period can be very creative and open up new possibilities that were not likely visible before. It’s time to think outside the box and create a whole new bucket list, one that captures our thoughts and dreams, one that is anchored in core values and feeds the soul like never before.
  6. Acceptance: Once the storm has passed and new ideas have percolated, it’s time to embrace the new norm that is this stage of life and make the most of it. Nerves settle down, emotions steady and reality becomes clearer. Life becomes easier.

The event itself of “retirement” is wholesale and free of emotions, but the transition that ensues is often emotionally charged and an extremely personal journey that sways on a pendulum from fear to exhilaration, often at the same time. The transition can only be understood by those who are having the experience as they move through these six transitory stages. The good news is that humans are hardwired to manage change and, in large part, successfully. Change creates opportunities for new and once unimaginable growth to take shape and forces one to leave behind a part of the essence of the current self in order to grow more magnificent in the emerging self. Instead of going through a cycle questioning relevance and what’s next, what if we moved stage 5 – reflection, before retirement actually begins?  That would accelerate and smooth the transition process. Reflection would allow for insights and clarity to bubble up and for new possibilities to emerge. Rather than leave retirement to change or to fate, why not take charge and make it happen, on your own terms? Let’s make sure we are thriving, not simply coping.

The Changing Landscape of Work in Later Life

There is no question Boomers are re-writing the script that defines retirement. They no longer fancy a life of uninterrupted leisure, but rather look for opportunities to develop and the right mix of productive activities. One important component of that mix is work. According to a 2014 survey of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 27% of Boomers over the age of 65 participate in the workforce and this number is expected to grow to 32% by 2022. Statistics Canada and the rest of the G8 countries show similar numbers.

Why are Boomers working in such large numbers?

As more information emerges, we are gaining a clearer understanding of the reason Boomers work beyond age 65. Money, it seems, is not a primary reason. A recent Merrill Lynch found that Boomers work:

  • To stay mentally and physically active
  • For social connections
  • To maintain a sense of identity/self-worth
  • For take on new challenges
  • For the money and benefits

What type of work are Boomers doing?

Starting a business is high on the list for Boomers who plan to continue working beyond age 65.  Four out of ten want to start their own business. Another 40% want to work part-time and the rest plan to work a full work week, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. You can find Boomers in politics, in media and across a wide spectrum of in businesses; whether they are working for themselves or for others. A number of movie stars are also working well beyond the traditional age where they were considered “over the hill”.  Betty White, a young 94 year old, and Morgan Freeman, 79, are in demand more than ever. You will also find many Boomers pursuing new fields of studies.

Retirement is now a dynamic and fluid process

Boomers no longer relate to the traditional view of working 40 years, getting a gold watch and fading into the sunset to play bingo and for lawn bowling. While they won’t miss the deadlines, heavy workloads and commutes when they do retire, they will miss the social connections and intellectual stimulation that work provides. More than anything, Boomers want to stay relevant, make use of their talents and mentor the younger generations of workers. It’s great to see companies develop age-friendly workplaces to accommodate workers across 4 or 5 generations. That’s a positive sign for Boomers who want to continue working beyond traditional retirement – whatever “traditional” means anymore. The day is fast approaching when we will no longer ask: When are you retiring? Instead, we will ask:  What kind of work is keeping you busy these days?

Four Anchors That Promote An Enriched Retirement Life

Barbara Beskind is 91 years old and on the payroll at IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm in Silicon Valley.  She still commutes to work one day a week. Three years ago she saw an episode on CBS’s 60 Minutes about IDEO and decided she’d like to work there. They hired her and today she is busy developing a portable airbag to help older people prevent serious injuries when they fall. Barbara is undoubtedly someone who has figured out how to enrich her retired life. Enrichment in retirement is supported by four key anchors or wellbeing – physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual.

Physical anchor

Physical wellbeing is achieved through good health, fulfilling work and financial well-being. We can ensure good health by eating a balanced diet, getting enough physical activity and maintaining a positive outlook. Fulfilling work is also essential to wellbeing. While work takes on a different meaning in retirement, it continues to contribute to a sense of purpose. It may include maintaining a home, continuing to work in some capacity at a paid job, volunteering or caring for our grandchildren. The challenge is to find work that satisfies our needs and at the same time, doesn’t feel like drudgery or a burden. Financial wellbeing is also important. It is essentially measured by the amount of income we have and our ability to comfortably manage any debt load. According to the Globe and Mail, 43% percent of retirees carry debt. Debt is a reality. The challenge is to find the recipe that works best so that we can live worry free and focused on the lifestyle we can afford.

 Emotional anchor

According to a Statistics Canada Report on social activities, 87% of retirees have either no social activities in their life or only one. Emotional wellbeing comes from the quality of social relationships we have with family, friends, life partners, and through work or volunteer activities. These relationships are critical to nurture wellbeing and to contribute to the wonderful memories we create. It is essential, therefore, to seek out those relationships that give us the greatest joy. Rather than wait for others to invite us to connect, we may need to create opportunities to connect with others.

 Spiritual anchor

While religion may have lost some of its influence in the last fifty years, studies show that spiritual wellbeing plays a greater role in retirement (Clark and Schellenberg, 2006). As we age we are more likely to attribute more importance to spiritual beliefs. Perhaps it’s because we gain clarity on the values and principles we cherish and the philosophies that guide the actions we take in life. Spiritual wellbeing comes from having a sense of purpose and a connection with the greater community we live in. It is also expressed in the compassion and love we show others and by acting on what our heart calls us to do in every aspects of our retirement life. Seeking guidance or working with a professional coach can be very helpful in redefining our passions and direction in retirement.

Intellectual Anchor

Intellectual wellbeing helps us to understand ourselves, our environment and the leisure activities that bring us the greatest joy. You may be surprised to learn that only 10% of the retired population continues to participate in educational activities after age 65, according to Statistics Canada. That’s a troubling stat, given the well documented research that shows learning as the best way to stay intellectually healthy.  It isn’t for lack of opportunity to continue to learn.  Many universities offer free courses for seniors over the age of 60, on a host of topics; and there are countless conferences to attend. When we appreciate what is present in our environment we’re at our best. At this point in our lives, the most rewarding leisure activities should leave us feeling refreshed and include fun activities with our spouses, families and friends. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Regular renewal is a critical part of maintaining well-being and retirement provides the perfect opportunity for renewal of these four anchors. It is one of the smartest investments we can make to support a rich retirement life.  Renewal reduces stress, promotes peace of mind, enhances well-being and promotes integrity with our truest purpose. Tending to these four anchors will ensure an incredible legacy for our loved ones, support independence and ensures a retirement life that is rich with possibilities. And isn’t that what we all wish for? Barbara Beskind (full story at ) is certainly an inspiration to us all.

By tending that you have good balance in each of these four anchors will ensure the richness you want in retirement.  Most people understand what to do when the physical or intellectual anchors are out of balance but many struggle to understand what to do to maintain the emotional and spiritual anchors.  Understanding the triggers that let you know when your physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual anchors are out of balance will help you make the changes that are necessary.



12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You “Un-Retire”

When Ian retired a few years ago, I found myself wishing for the day when I could announce my own retirement. A few months later I saw him and asked how he was enjoying retirement. “I hate it, I never should have retired,” he said. He identified so strongly with his work that without it he felt lost. Unfortunately he’s in good company. According to Statistics Canada, 64% of retirees express some regrets within 1 to 3 years of full retirement. There are several reasons why 2 out of every 3 retirees regret their decision.

  • Few people take time to plan for the lifestyle they hope to have in retirement. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, only 14% of Boomers actually plan for the lifestyle they want, while most plan financially to some extent.
  • Boomers are living longer which may lure them into thinking that there is no rush to plan. The pressure mounts when they find themselves unexpectedly out of work and retired with little to no time to plan a smooth transition. We all want to retire on our own terms but it doesn’t always work out that way.
  • Boomers define what retirement means for them differently than their parents did. With more choices than ever before, unlimited possibilities and fewer role models to guide them, it’s easy to see why many feel lost or uncertain about what retirement will look like.
  • Many want to continue to work beyond age 60 or 65, but they often face age barriers from companies who haven’t quite caught up to the benefits of mature workers.

One way to avoid finding yourself retired and wishing you hadn’t is to look at this transition as “un-retirement” – a combination of work, volunteerism and leisure – rather than the traditional view of retirement. This new perspective examines all the possibilities available to you so you can continue to contribute, on your own terms. One way to ensure that your retirement lifestyle is the one you really want to pursue is to take time to ask yourself these questions.

  1. Work: Do I want to continue to work in some capacity? What will that look like? For how long?
  2. Health: What activities will I build into my daily routine to stay active and healthy?
  3. Financial: What adjustments will I have to make financially to fit my new retirement lifestyle?
  4. Leisure: What leisure activities do I want to pursue (e.g. hobbies, travel)
  5. Family: How important is it that I live near my children and grandchildren?
  6. Friends: Are there common interests and leisure activities we might pursue together?
  7. Life Partner: What interests do my life partner and I have? Which ones are different?
  8. Community: How involved do I want to be in my community? How much time will I give?
  9. Knowledge: Is there something I’d like to learn more about (e.g. genealogy, philosophy)?
  10. Environment: Where do I want to live and what type of home do I want or need?
  11. Spiritually: Will my spiritual practice evolve in retirement? How?
  12. Sense of self: What activities will help me maintain a high level of optimism and self-esteem?

These questions are designed to get you thinking about and gain insights into what your unique un-retirement might look like. The full answers may only come in retirement. That’s OK. The aim is to help you identify the hopes and dreams you have for your retirement. Take time now to do a little more lifestyle planning will help you feel good about your decision to retire and give you lots to look forward to. The hard work of career building is done now. It’s time to enjoy all that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

How to Become the STaR of Your Own Retirement

If I asked you what hopes you have for your retirement, what would you say? You might be surprised to hear that most people say they don’t want to stop working. The answer seems counterintuitive to the notion we have about what retirement should be, doesn’t it? But for a generation who measures much of its self-worth on their career, imagining a life without work is a scary proposition.

When I ask participants in my seminars if they have a retirement lifestyle plan, most say they don’t. They usually have a financial plan but not a lifestyle plan. According to a survey conducted by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, only 14% of Fifty-somethings make a lifestyle plan. Stats Canada also found that 2 in 3 new retirees express some regrets within the first 3 years of their retirement. Lack of lifestyle planning may very well be the reason why so many are struggling during the first few years of retirement.

Next to establishing a career and raising a family, retirement is one of the biggest transitions we make in our lifetime. It challenges every part of life – social, physical, intellectual and spiritual. To engage fully in a retirement lifestyle that is meaningful and filled with purpose, we must have a good sense of what it is we hope to achieve.  It can be helpful to think of how we want to show up, how we want our STaR to shine in retirement.


In the early stages of retirement, it’s natural to feel lost in a sea of murky waters, without a clear view of what lies ahead. During the early stages friendships from work began to drift away and daily routines are unclear. It’s a time when we feel compelled to re-confirm the values we hold dear, and we may find ourselves struggling with our new identity as “retirees”. It’s the perfect time to ask ourselves what retirement will mean exactly; what we’re going to do with all the free time we have. There are only so many golf games to be played and trips to take before we realize that we want more out of retirement. Lifestyle planning in invaluable to gain clarity on the interests and dreams we want to pursue in retirement and to do a reality check of what’s possible. Ideally the planning starts long before retirement officially happens.


Once the murky waters begin to clear, most retirees emerge with clearer goals and a newfound purpose. They find meaningful ways to stay productive and have a better understanding of what they need to do to stay physically and intellectually active. This may include work, volunteering or finding other outlets to contribute to society in rich and engaging ways. Learning is also important. Those who thrive have found the sweet spot in the lifestyle they want in retirement. Life has a new pace that feels right. They realize that they are no longer infatuated with the notion of what might have been and are content to simply enjoy life. Research shows that spiritually, in the broader sense of the word, takes on a new level of importance in retirement.

and Reconcile

Later in retirement the time comes to reconcile those things that no longer serve us well. That time comes, early on, midway through or at the end of retirement when we make peace with what never was or will be. We settle differences that drain our energy and restore harmony in our lives. It’s an individual process that has no best before date.

Retirement has its own unique cycle and every retiree moves through the cycle at their own pace. It is a time of personal growth that offers an opportunity to put the spotlight on what’s most meaningful to you – a time to become the STaR of your own life. It is also a time to polish the rough edges of a legacy that will inspire younger generations.


Nine Reasons Retirement is Different for Boomers

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover,” a quote from author, H. Jackson Brown Jr, in his book, P.S. I love You (1990. For the thousands of Boomers embarking on their own retirement journey it is great advice.

There is no question that Boomers are re-inventing the concept of retirement. Whether they are contemplating retirement, embarking on this new journey or settling into a period of what would best be described as “un-retirement”; they are all busy figuring out the next twenty plus years will look like. Boomers are looking at retirement differently than previous generations because their life was shaped and influenced by a vastly different world than in previous generations.

  1. Boomers were raised in a time of prosperity when anything seemed possible. Their parents were raised during the great depression.
  2. Boomers experienced the explosion of technology and the birth of a knowledge economy which opened access to the world.
  3. Boomers married later in life and had 1.5 children, on average, compared to 3.5 for their parents. The offspring of Boomers were raised with more liberal values.
  4. Boomers were, and still are idealists. They pushed the boundaries on important social issues including gender and racial equality. They were game changers when they were young adults and they still are today.
  5. Boomers were the first generation where dual careers and dual incomes were the norm; but that doesn’t mean they are better off financially.
  6. Boomers tended to be more nomadic as they pursued career opportunities. They were more likely to live in suburbia. Their parents were community builders.
  7. Boomers were shaped by a global perspective which opened up a myriad of new possibilities that were not available in previous generations.
  8. Boomers had access to higher education as a norm, while many of their parents left school to work after the 8th or 10th
  9. Boomers had and continue to have better and more access to healthcare. Because of advances in healthcare, the average life span has increased by 15 years longer than previous generations.  This means much more time spent in retirement.

So how do these influences shape retirement differently for Boomers? With an idealism that is embedded in their DNA and not easily tempered, Boomers aren’t quite ready for lawn bowling, bingo night, or a good game of cards. That may come later. They have many more goals to accomplish and dreams to chase. Armed with good health and lots of energy, they are ready to tackle new challenges. They are hungry to learn more about the world and its cultures; to consider new philosophies and explore the breath of their spirituality.

This new generation of retirees has the time and resources to make significant contributions to humanity and to the planet, whether it’s eradicating poverty, advocating for the environment or promoting peace. They have longevity on their side which allows them to continue to make meaningful contributions to society for many more years to come. Forget retirement! Hello un-retirement!

Irrelevance in Retirement – Not An Option For Boomers!

When Ian retired a few years ago, I felt envious, wishing for the day I could announce my own retirement to come. A few months later, I asked him how he was enjoying retirement. “I hate it, I never should have retired,” he said. He identified so strongly with his work that he felt lost with all the idle time he now had at his disposal. Unfortunately, Ian’s in good company. According to Statistics Canada, 64% of retirees express regret within the first three years of retirement.

One of the biggest fears Boomers have about retirement is becoming irrelevant. In a world that values youth and productivity, it’s easy to see why one could feel irrelevant when they stop working. It is almost impossible to reconcile these values with retirement. It doesn’t help either that the Webster dictionary defines retirement as withdrawal from life, isolation and loneliness. This definition certainly doesn’t fit the perspective of an idealist generation like the Boomers. What we need is a new word for retirement. And who better to find that new word than Boomers – the inventors of everything. This latest generation of retirees is more likely to look at retirement as the beginning of a new life chapter, one that is both embracing and engaging. A fresh perspective and a new lifestyle plan will go a long way to help this generation build a highly relevant and meaningful retirement life.

Ask New Questions

Begin by asking – Who am I in this chapter of my life? Now that I’m no longer racing off to work to service customers, lead organizations or build houses, who am I?  Now that I am no longer caring for a growing family, who am I? Now that I’m embarking on a new journey in life, who am I?  These are not easy questions, but they are necessary if we’re going to challenge the perspective we may be holding onto, one that no longer fits our reality.

Go on a QUEST

Question – Explore what passions are still unfulfilled and what new opportunities exist. This will help you to create a new purpose for this chapter.

Understand – Consider what is most important to you around four anchors in your life – mind, body, soul and spirit, to find what you want in retirement.

Evaluate – Select the things that are most important to you, such as social connections, projects, community activities and wellness. Then add spice with a variety of meaningful leisure activities.

Secure knowledge – Be open to learning new things. With time to spare, learning something new may very well lead you to pursue items on your bucket list that you never knew you could do.

Treasure insights – You have tons of wisdom to share. Find every opportunity you can to share your experiences and knowledge with younger generations. You will all be richer for it.

Retirement is Renewal

It’s helpful to look at retirement as a time for renewal where you rediscover the dreams you had put on the back burner or find new ones to pursue. Make time to “sharpen the saw” as Stephen Covey wrote in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1988). This is the time when you can do the things that bring you the greatest joy. You also have time to really care for yourself, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

Since there is no single recipe on how to do retirement right, we get to define it on our own terms. The possibilities are unlimited. The idealism that is in the DNA of our generation should serve us well as we begin a new and exciting chapter in our lives. Retirement from work is inevitable, but retirement from life is optional. My guess is that becoming irrelevant isn’t even on the radar for the vast majority of Boomers.