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Has retirement become a dirty word?

Posted Aug 24 2008 6:37pm

Hammock Has 'retirement' become a negative word? Is it becoming unacceptable to say 'I'm retired' when someone asks you what you do? According to ' Whatever You Do, Call It Work ', more and more retirees in the US are hesitating to use the word 'retired', preferring to call themselves consultants, independent contractors, business owners, dedicated volunteers, portfolio managers and pro bono workers instead.

As a retirement coach and trainer, I'm more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of people feeling obliged to lie about or 'dress up' what they do in retirement, in order to make it sound more dynamic and acceptable to other people.

Please don't misunderstand me - I'm a great advocate for people starting second (or third) careers, setting up businesses or volunteering from dawn 'til dusk if that's the way they choose to spend their time and they are deriving enjoyment, satisfaction and fulfilment from their activities. But I get very uncomfortable at the thought of people feeling compelled to do these things (or claim they do these things) in order to stop other people making negative judgements about them and they way they spend their time.

My working definition of 'successful' (at any age) is that:

• you're glad to be you

• you're enjoying your life and you wouldn't change places with anyone else

• you spend your days doing the things that you enjoy

• you live your life a) how you want to live it, b) with people you would choose to spend your time with, who, c) treat you as you want to be treated.

So I say, if pottering about in retirement makes you happy, then you should, by all means, potter about. If you want to curl up with a good book, curl up. If you want to sit in your garden shed contemplating the meaning of life, then fill yer boots! How you chose to spend your time has nothing to do with anyone else. (In a healthy retirement relationship, partners tend to have 'your time', 'my time' and 'our time' and what one partner does in their own time is, surely, up to them.) It's your retirement, not someone else's. You've worked hard for it. Spend your time doing what you want to do. Not what you feel obliged to do. And if you find, after the honeymoon period ends, that feelings of boredom or dissatisfaction are setting in, you can always change your mind and do something else, can't you? It's your choice.

What do you think?

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