Retirement: What's Next?


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Retirement: a new day is dawning. The old vision of gold watches and rocking chairs is a thing of the past. The term that was associated with “being put out to pasture” is now having new life breathed into it, thanks to the baby boomers.

Did you know every 7.5 seconds someone turns 55 years old, or that 10,000 people retire every day? Would you have ever guessed that the average age of 1st retirement in the United States is 57.5 years; not 62 or 65?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in the 10 year period between 2000-2010, the population of men aged 55-64 will increase by 47.2%; for women the increase will be 46.6%. In addition to these figures, in the last nine decades, longevity has increased 30 years, so retirees could potentially be spending more time in retirement than in any other phase of life.

The old ideas of retirement no longer hold true. People are retiring earlier, presumably to have time to enjoy more out of life. As a group, they are entering retirement with physically healthier bodies than their parents had and have good reason to expect to live years longer, with more vibrancy and fullness. Also, watching old patterns of retirement has spurred the current generation on to get more bang for their buck. They have worked hard all their lives and now are seeking reward for their efforts – rewards of time and enjoyment of anticipated pleasures that up until now, were out of their reach.

Today retirees are more adventurous and mobile. Because many are financially solid, they look forward to traveling and living their dreams. The boomers, in general, have an expanded education base and value learning on all levels. They want to use acquired life skills to continue playing an active role in their communities. Having time to think, to reassess who they are now, is important life work for successfully answering the question “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”

Usually, the first 6 months of retirement are great, like a honeymoon or an extended vacation. Somewhere along the way, however, the realization that you can’t golf, fish or relax all the time hits, and a degree of disenchantment can set in. This is where the question “What’s next?” is often asked.

Personal responsibility for choices is important in assure our overall happiness. Where do we begin when we have devoted our lives to following someone else’s schedule, be that our employer or even our children? If we think about it, it may have been many years since we have taken the time to listen to our inner voice and hear the wisdom it is offering us. Who has time in the midst of career demands and putting others first to spend time with themselves? Retirement gives us that time to get reacquainted with who we are; to ask ourselves important questions, to think with clarity.

It is a useful tool to view our lives as invested in six areas: career, family, relationships, self, spirit and leisure. Each is an intricately woven fiber in the fabric of our being. We are the sum total of the balance we maintain in these life arenas. Spending time looking at each area individually helps us evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. This gives us a sound starting place to begin asking ourselves powerful questions. We can begin to think about possibilities for change, including our hopes and dreams, which allow us to move forward with goals that lead to self empowerment and direction. This is the key for a healthy retirement; for once gained, new horizons open before us and anything is possible.

Do you dare to dream?

Nancy Montani is a Spiritual Director, Life and Retirement Coach and owns Holistic Retirement Living, which takes a Body, Mind and Spirit approach to living the good life in retirement. She is presently writing a book on women and retirement. You are welcome to leave comments and contribute success stories for the book at her blog:


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