Frank Sinatra’s song, My Way is a great potential anthem for Baby Boomers and a common sentiment when it comes to how we go about living in retirement. Reactions from soon to be retirees can range from, “I can’t wait to reclaim my life,” to “I am in no rush to retire,” to “I will die first!”
In fact, some people never do retire from their paid work.
Those most likely not to retire until later in life are farmers, artists, business owners, and professionals like lawyers or clergy. For many, these are callings, a whole lifestyle or way of being in their worlds. Imagining a different life is a challenge and getting time off to experience a new way of being is not considered an option.
THANK GOD I’M A COUNTRY BOY
Farmers live on their farms, in their farm communities, and often carry on their family legacies and family traditions. My father was born on tour Century farm and, for much of his life, had intended to die there. He did move when he was 69 years old but was available to help my brother when he got the call. At times, the issue is forced by health problems or unhappy spouses who want off the 24/7 not-so-merry-go-round. Finding a successor or buyer is not always obvious or easy. Farmers have one of the highest average retirement ages in Canada. No surprise given that every farmer justifies their work with “Farming is a lifestyle”
TAKIN’ CARE OF BUSINESS
For those in business, transitioning out of the business can be a huge challenge. Finding a suitable buyer can be difficult or splitting it between family members can bring a mine field of troubles. The transition can take 4 to 7 years or more once the process has started. It may seem too daunting and easier just to keep running the business with some hired help. Often the owner’s personal identity is so wrapped up in the business that imagining a future without it is almost impossible.
PAINT MY MASTERPIECE
Pablo Picasso was very productive throughout his life including 1968-1971 before his death in 1973 at age 92. Frank Lloyd Wright was still designing major commissions at 90 years of age. Doc Watson was still playing music up to his death at 89 years old. How do artists, musicians, writers, for example, retire from being themselves? This is their calling, their life’s work, and they have no intention of revocating as they are living their passion already. Fair enough. Maybe it's better to just carry on.
BRING IT ON!
For many of us, however, retirement is an opportunity, a new lease on life, a renewal, a relief from demands and stress. It is the new stage of life that we warmly welcome. It is a time to look at ourselves, our choices, our ways of living and reassess our decisions and paths. It is time to figure out what matters most and cut away the excess baggage to get to the core of the life we want to create next. We can figure out what attitudes, beliefs, practices, and assumptions serve us now.
We get new verve and energy, life is popping with possibilities, and our lives are our own again. We can experiment, experience, regenerate, revisit old passions and interests, and create ourselves all over again. Happiness, fulfillment, fun, and contentment can be our guides and rewards. Life does go on with its ups and downs but we have the time and resources to deal with whatever comes our way. My way, right, Frank?
What do you envision your retirement to be like? Do you look forward to the day you can change your life or are you happy continuing doing what you are doing?