Retirement: Who do you want to be when you grow up?

Ken Dychtwald coined the term ‘middlescence’ for those between 45 and 65 years of age. This is the time for reinvention of yourself, and a time to take aim at the best future for yourself that you can imagine.

I have been following his writing for some time and would recommend his book A New Purpose: Redefining Money, Family, Work, Retirement, and Success that came out in paperback in 2010.

Happily ever after

The Boomers are the generation that is redefining retirement and what it means. No more gold watch, bingo, rocking chairs, and no withdrawal from an engaged lifestyle, and no idling away the years in a fossilized mindset on the dance card for this group. Retirement could be 25-30 years and no one wants to be bored or cast aside.

Related article: Do we need a new word for ‘retirement’?

According to Dychtwald, a purpose-filled third act is “going from success to significance”. Focus shifts to creating a continuing contribution or legacy that will pay off with an intrinsic “I make a positive difference” sense of reward or worth. Top priorities will be financial security, a meaningful purpose, good health, and positive relationships.

That means the gyms, trails, and tracks will see lots of Boomers as will farmers’ markets and the organic section of the grocery stores. Relationships will shift as shared interests and values become important and as identities shift as well. Couples need to compare notes on their respective visions of retirement early on. People will need friends of all ages, new circles, activities, and shared interest groups.

Related article: What is your retirement vision?

The best retirement possible

Many of us want an active lifestyle with the physical and financial resources to have a wide range of choices to do as we wish. We could be volunteering, mentoring, coaching, working part-time, serving on committees or boards, engaging in politics at various levels, writing, taking courses, getting more fit, and taking on projects, challenges, or causes.

Related article: Improving your physical health for retirement

We are figuring out how to make the most of the time given as it keeps on ticking. We want to live life to the fullest with intellectual stimulation, a sense of satisfaction, worth and accomplishment, buoyancy, resilience, and good health. That means we need to cut away what does not serve these goals and visions. We may also need to change some habits and readjust the rudder so that we get going in the direction we need to now.

If we take a look at the quality of life where we are living now, is this where we want to age in place? Take a look at the state of medical care, entertainment, shopping, restaurants, cultural activities, a sense of community, ease of transportation, fitness facilities, and natural beauty.

Take a look at the stress levels involved with property maintenance, commuting, the feeling of personal safety, and the convenience of accessing services.

Navigating to the best future

So…who do you want to be when you grow up this time? How do you envision and prepare for the best future possible? Reading A NEW PURPOSE may get you off to a good start.

Any other ideas for making dreams come true?


  1. Sandra

    I am one of many people I know who are reinventing themselves in their 50’s. Community, contribution and legacy are all things that resonate with me at this time in my life. Great read!

  2. Donna McCaw

    Thanks Sandra and keep up the transition!

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