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.