Article by Nancy Mann Jackson
In the history of mankind, retirement is a relatively new phenomenon. Mandatory retirement appeared for the first time in 1885 in Germany, when an average German worker earned a living doing manual labour and lived until age 45. That is no longer the world we live in, so it is no wonder that full retirement at age 65 does not work for many people. The concept does no longer make sense because we trade our intellectual capacity and our relational capacity for a paycheck, whereas previously we traded our physical capacity for a paycheck.
Many workers are at the top of their game when they reach their sixties, with greater knowledge and broader relationship networks than ever before. While the word “retirement” literally means to withdraw from the working world, that is no longer what most people want to do. Nor should they. Maintaining some form of work as part of their life, even if it is volunteer work, can make the second half more interesting and enjoyable.
As more older workers realise they still have plenty to contribute, more of them are continuing to work in some capacity. Research that was done in 2009, showed that within one year of retiring, most workers will return to some type of part-time work. At least 50% of retirees will follow a nontraditional path of partial retirement or “un-retirement”, because they still need intellectual and social stimulation, they feel a loss of identity, or they find that a leisure-only life does not make them happy.
Mitch Anthony, author of “The New Retirementality”, shares the three pillars of the new retirement mentality:
They who retire most successfully are those who “retire to something, not from something” he says. Before you embark on retirement – or un-retirement – determine what you want that stage of your life to look like. Maybe you want to start a business, volunteer for a cause, spend more time with children or grandchildren, go back to school or travel. Start designing your retirement life early so that you will know what to expect and how to plan for it. “It takes most people two to four times to get retirement right”, says Mitch Anthony.
For generations, society has viewed life as either all work or all play, but it does not have to be one or the other. “It will not make you happy to do nothing but leisure,” says Anthony. The best retirement is a balance between leisure, work, family and community.
Anthony recommends what he calls the “Vitamin Cs” of successful aging. They include:
Connectivity, or staying connected to people and things you love
Challenge, both physical and intellectual
Curiosity, because, “The day you stop wanting to learn, you stop growing, and the day you stop growing, you start dying,” Anthony says.
Charity, because giving of yourself and your time is continually rewarding
Creativity, because “age has little to do with creative pursuits,” Anthony says. “Look at all the artists, musicians and writers accomplishing great things well beyond the traditional retirement age.”
Maintaining some income into your retirement years will provide you with peace of mind and a sense of purpose. Rather than slaving for a paycheck, however, Anthony recommends collecting a paycheck or finding a way to be paid for work you enjoy doing. You may not want to work the same hours or at the same job that you worked for as a full-time employee. Consider negotiating with your employer to keep your foot in the door even in retirement, perhaps by working only on a type of project you enjoy or by telecommuting.
“We are designed for some kind of work. Age has nothing to do with it,” says Anthony.”I define work as an activity that brings value to others and meaning to me. At what age do you want to stop doing it? It is not going to happen locked behind the gate in a gated retirement community, talking to people just like me. Instead, find a way to do things you love, even if you are doing them to get paid”.
When you love what you do and you are good at it, why would you quit?