Re-defining the Space Between Working and RetirementSubmitted by Act2Transitions Resources for Midlife Transitions on November 14th, 2016
Re-defining the new space between Working and Retirement
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve been hearing a lot lately about the “new retirement” and “next chapters” for those of us in the baby boom generation who are getting ready to transition to retirement. Indeed, there is a movement of sorts taking hold to find more happiness and fulfillment in this stage of life. Indeed, what lies before you is, in fact, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshuffle your deck and live the life you were meant to live.
Wow - Big words!
Well, let’s get some perspective. We all know that years ago, our grandparents retired at around the age of 65 and lived to be around 80. In those days you worked for the same company for many years and probably got a good pension to boot. When you retired, you took it easy and did the things you enjoyed. Fast forward to today’s economy: Very few one-firm careers and even fewer pensions. The emergence of a “gig” economy where many people actually piece together a living doing maybe 2 – 3 part time jobs or gigs. The “normal” retirement age of 62 or 65 is not realistic for many without that dependable pension to count on, especially since you have so much longer to plan for! Social Security is in trouble and there is so much uncertainty out there now. When we combine these trends with the gifts of increasing longevity and better health - all this creates the “perfect storm” of opportunity to redefine this stage in life.
I like to think of “Retirement” staying the same – only postponing it to make room for a new chapter in your life. Like past life-cycles of house-holding in our 20’s and 30’s, then career- building became the focus, all the while parenting being a major focus for many. Now, as you get to the point where the nest is empty, you have the freedom and resources to re-think what you do! No rules! And many of us begin to experience a restless feeling - a sort of gravitational pull in a different direction. I like to call this the Transition phase, or maybe Second Act or even Space Between.
One of the best descriptions of the opportunity at hand can be found in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The idea, of course, is that first you must meet your basic human needs for food, shelter etc. before you can move on to intellectual pursuits and ultimately, this thing called Self-actualization at the top of the pyramid. For years this concept escaped me (what is that??!!). I now think of it more as a process that accumulates over time. I envision a layered tapestry weaving in your life experiences, your unique skills and talents and your perspective of the world around you. This is the secret sauce that only you can offer – it’s your mojo - no one else has this. It is your dharma calling! The great opportunity of this phase is understanding that you can put your life experiences together in a new way, creating something meaningful and interesting for yourself and the world.
We truly are the first generation that can claim this new space as a distinct life phase. Yet, many of us continue to work in our main job or career, because we know it. It’s our comfort zone. If you need to still earn an income, the logical thing is to keep at it. And for many this may be a good solution. But for many others - this is the one last chance to create a life that speaks to your heart – your true authentic self – the chance to pursue dharma in a way that was not possible before. We ought not to ignore the possibilities this time of life presents to us!!
Seizing this opportunity does not involve ditching your life. It’s more like a tweak. It requires focus and concentration - a certain zen component to the soul-searching you will need to do. Dare to dream the dream and you will find a way to make it happen. Even doing this on a small scale will make your heart sing and soothe your soul.
In future blogs, we will explore the process and resources for the various stages of finding your voice in this phase.
Meanwhile, Think Outside the Box – this is the most important first step. You must imagine the possibilities first! You owe it to your soul to explore this next phase and make it the best one yet. Find more resources and inspiration on how to tackle your Act 2 at my website www.act2transitions.com.