The word “retirement”, I think, isn’t the right word to use for those who no longer work full time. The word is much too limited to cover such a large part of life, sometimes as much as a third of one’s life. Plus, there’s an inference and presumption in the word retirement.
When you retire something that something is no longer useful because it’s either worn out, broken, or obsolete. I don’t know about you, but I ain’t obsolete nor am I broken, although, some of my parts are feeling the wear. Nobody has the right to “retire” me… or you.
What other words could we use for this time in one’s life? Perhaps “career change” would be a good term for someone who is no longer employed full time. But, that term doesn’t work either because it sounds like more of the same, a new occupation with a twist. I don’t feel this latter part of my life is career oriented, nor should it be. I am certainly still driven and I have specific goals, but just not in the area of work.
What about calling it a “life-style change”? You’ve “punched a clock” for years and now find that your time is your own. That certainly sounds like the retirement term could be replaced by a life-style change, but I’ve found that my life hasn’t changed all that much. My routine us pretty much my same routine and my interests haven’t changed much, if anything, they’ve expanded. My “style” is pretty intact.
What happens when someone retires; when the fulltime work phase of life ends? One might celebrate for having accomplished a lifetime milestone. That block of time you spent working is now freed up to be filled by the things in life that interest you the most, all those things you’ve wanted to do, see, and explore. There is also a shift in one’s personal attention and focus from an outward perspective to now an inner focus and awareness.
It is that shift from outer attention of career and family to inner focus on self that is of most significance. Maybe there’s a clue as to what the “retirement years” might be called. The Life- Shift Years? The Transition Years? The Wonder Years? The Insightful Years? None really do this time frame justice, do they?
Like so many have, we could just call them the Golden Year’s, but we’ve all heard too many jokes about things that tarnish. Maybe that’s the real point to be made here. Polishing takes effort, work, some elbow grease. Whatever moniker we hang on the latter years of a life one thing is for certain, it takes focus, attention, and gratitude to polish them into the gem they can be.
How about the Gratitude Years? Have you got a better name for the retirement years?
Rick Lelchuk lives in North Central Florida and is the author and facilitator of the Authentic Ageing Workshops. “Suddenly A Senior” Workshop is now available online. His mission is to transform the way we think about growing old to one of awed acceptance and inner peace. (Learn more here.)