Recently, Donna McCaw, author of her retirement book It’s Your Time wrote an article on her blog suggesting that we need a new word for ‘retirement’.
If you think about the word ‘retire’, it can have some negative connotations to it. If you retire something (not someone) why would you retire something? Probably because it’s broken, old, worn or just useless. There was a time we retired people for kind of the same reason. This happened at a time when we statistically worked to the age of 65 and we statistically died at 70. We retired because we were old, worn and maybe useless. In fact, there was a time when retirement was forced upon us at a certain age. These were the days when mandatory retirement was a common term. It no longer exists today. McCaw says “Too many of us associate that word with STOP signs, rocking chairs, gold watches, rapid aging, impending death, uselessness, losses and the end of our working lives.”
Retirement today is different
Do you want retirement to be the best years of your life? If so, you probably don’t see retirement this old way. Retirement today is very different and the main reason is because retirees today are younger and more active than the previous generations of retirees. When I talk about younger, I am not just talking about age. Today’s retirees are younger physically, mentally, and spriitually. Today’s retiree is capable of so much more. Today, a 65 year old retiree can easily live another 10 healthy, active years of retirement. As McCaw puts it “Boomers are healthy, energetic, engaged, and dynamic people who have so much to offer.” I could not agree more.
Do we need a new word for retirement?
Given that retirement is very different today, do we need a new word to describe it? Many other’s have tried to suggest this:
- Mitch Anthony wrote a book called “The New Retirementality” written 10 years ago in 2001
- Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners wrote a book a year later (2002) called “Don’t Retire, Rewire”
- Alan Roadburg wrote a book called “Re-tire with a dash”
- And yes, even my book “10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Retirement” talks about the changing landscape of retirement.
I’ve heard many suggestions over the years like rewire, refocus, and re-tire (with a dash) but at the end of the day it will be pretty tough to replace the word retirement. And for many, the word retirement can be a very positive word that inspires positive feelings.
Retirement can mean anything you want it to mean
In fact, retirement can be anything you want it to be . . . so what do you want it to be? There is no universal definition for retirement and what it means anymore. The secret to success is to take some time to define your retirement personally by creating a retirement vision. For some it will include work. For others it will be about pursuing activities? And for some it might be similar to the old picture of relaxing and slowing down. Retirement is about choice and you have the opportunity to figure it out. Part of retirement planning is about the money but it’s also about planning a lifestyle. The one thing McCaw, myself and all these other books agree on is that retirement is more about figuring out what you are going to retire TO as opposed to dwelling on what you are retiring FROM. Look forward and plan accordingly.
For me, it’s not about replacing the word but making sure people replace the old ideas of what retirement meant and what happened during that period. What do you think retirement means to you?