Bruce Poster

This is the first in a series of articles on “The New Retirement” and how to prepare yourself for this major life transition. While many retirement advisors focus solely on financial planning, I will address 15 factors (including finances) important to a successful retirement. Having recently “retired” from my former life work as a research and planning consultant and business coach, I am eager to help others create their own retirement plans and find personal meaning in retirement.

According to Dr. Richard P. Johnson, a nationally recognized sociologist who has specialized in the field of retirement, “The New Retirement is not an ending; it’s a new beginning, the start of a new life journey of vastly expanded proportion.” Your retirement will probably not resemble that of your parents. The whole notion of retirement has been radically changed. We used to think of retirement as the beginning of the end. Today we need to think of retirement as a new beginning.

The Old Retirement was viewed as more of a prolonged vacation that gave only shallow satisfaction, filled with endless television, golf and bridge. Society viewed retirees as no longer adding value to the world.

People are now retiring earlier than ever, with an average first retirement age of 57. Second and even third careers are not uncommon. Labor participation of persons over age 60 has been rising since the mid 1990s. This trend is likely to continue due to the loss of assets that many persons experienced during the recent financial meltdown, which is causing some people to return to the workforce after initially “retiring.”

If you are currently 60 and married, one of the two of you has a 41% chance of living to age 90. The New Retiree may be “retired” longer than he or she actually worked. Moreover, the New Retiree seeks life enrichment, self-ownership, physical wellness, self-esteem and positive involvement. He or she can be said to have found a new life purpose.

A complete cessation of work will not be the desired goal of the New Retirement. Rather there will be a new phase, or even new stage of life emerging, a stage of life that Dr. Johnson calls the Renewal stage. The Renewal stage begins at the point where early retirement formerly began… probably around 50-55 years of age. At this point the majority of workers will shift from their full-time active career to enter a new life endeavor that better aligns with their internal self, i.e. their interior or spiritual inclinations. This Renewal stage will provide an opportunity to finally get around to doing those things that one put off while working and raising a family, which could be anything from learning to play an instrument to traveling to taking up photography or painting.

This new life endeavor will take as many different forms as there are retirees. While some will seek paid employment, many others will create life endeavors of a different sort entirely. This renewal phase has many facets: leisure activities, pursuing life goals, community service, interior spiritual growth, and a forum for finding personal meaning. What’s important is that the individual finds personal renewal and that this stage ushers in something entirely new, something exciting, something fulfilling, something invigorating and animating for the “retiree.” This is The New Retirement.

To achieve fulfillment in retirement, each of us must consider many factors and look deeply into him- or herself. This self-inventory is critical to identifying a mission for one’s remaining years and creating a New Retirement lifestyle.

In future columns I will address 15 life arenas and factors that contribute to retirement success. The 15 life arenas and factors include:

  • Work reorientation and replacement of work functions

  • Attitude and life satisfaction

  • Self-directedness

  • Health

  • Life meaning

  • Leisure interests

  • Financial security

  • Adaptability

  • Dependents and relationships

  • Perception of age

I will also discuss the importance of creating your own personal retirement plan prior to your retirement. Such a plan will provide you with your own roadmap to retirement. This will help you experience a purposeful retirement and avoid the boredom and even depression that all too many retirees face.

Bruce Poster is a Certified Retirement Coach who has lived in Santa Fe for 34 years and previously owned Southwest Planning & Marketing. He can be reached at 505.690.8921 or bruce@retireyourway.biz; or you can visit his website: www.RetireYourWay.biz