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What is Your Definition of Retirement?

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How has the definition of retirement changed in our lifetime?

Society has changed dramatically in the last 60 years. For a previous generation that word RETIREMENT stereotypically meant the absolute end of your working life.  Now that meaning of retirement is being challenged.

For many people of our generation, having time to travel or pursue special interests became the dream.  And so the definition of the word retirement remained the same for a while: leaving all forms of paid work permanently.

Of course, the exception to this has always been successful wealthy individuals who retired from their employment and took on paid directorships or consultant roles within their industry. Maybe they were on to something. They were continuing to create income long after traditional retirement. Many people are now considering how they can do the same.

Language is flexible. Words change their meaning according to the context and what is going on in the world.

happy retirement party

Life happens…not always the way you want it to.

For many people that earlier definition of retirement, and the dreams that went with it, have been blown out of the water. Poor business decisions, stock market volatility, speculative investments, family breakdowns, accidents, illness. Then in 2021, Coronavirus. Life has a funny way of upsetting our plans sometimes. Some people recover from the bad times, but a lot don’t.

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Redundancies, unemployment, and underemployment can have a horrible impact on older workers. Most people are aware that it can be more difficult to find a new job as a mature age worker, and financial plans can be impacted badly.

Is a traditional retirement what you really want?

Baby boomers are now retiring from their traditional employment.  Millions more will retire over the next few years. Many of them are wondering if the ‘retirement’ they are facing is what they really want. A large number face the future with fear and concern, asking themselves questions like these:

  • Will my savings run out too soon?
  • Do I have enough money to maintain my desired lifestyle? For how long?
  • What if I become ill? Do I have enough to get the treatment I might need?
  • How will I cope if I am always feeling financially insecure?

Healthy mind, active brain

Purpose, mental stimulation and challenge are vital to a person’s psychological well-being.

Faced with the possibility of twenty or thirty years of life after retiring from their career, many people wonder how long they will stay mentally acute. Crossword puzzles, mathematics puzzles, and reading all play a large role in the mental stimulation of many retirees.  But is that enough for you? Or do you thrive on new ideas, learning, and mental stimulation?

A growing number of people are questioning if the traditional meaning of retirement is a twentieth-century concept, outdated, unrealistic, not capable of providing the lifestyle they were expecting.

Rethink your concept of retirement

Many baby boomers are now seeing their life after traditional work as something new. There’s a new order, a new way of ‘retiring’ in view. Baby boomers are renewing their life. An ever-increasing percentage of people in the second half of their lives are now choosing to create a new way of living for themselves.

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Many see it as an opportunity to take on new challenges, to do things, to create income in ways they’ve never thought possible.

Lifestyle comes first!

When you are planning for your future, the most important issue is to recognise the lifestyle you want. Yes, your planning should start with the lifestyle you desire!

This is your chance to consider exactly what you want your life to be like. If you clearly know what you would like in your future lifestyle then you can start to work towards achieving it. You will need to look at the finances and other contingencies later, but if you can’t articulate the lifestyle you really want then you have no chance of achieving it.

Of course we have no control over such tragedies as accident and illness, but we certainly have control over how we choose to live our lives.

Digital technology = new possibilities

In our lifetime technological innovations have swept the globe. Let’s consider how this has changed over our lifetime.

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You can talk to your family and friends across the globe for little or no cost using digital technology. In contrast, in two years of travelling the world as a young backpacker, I remember calling home only about four times. Only Christmas and my mother’s birthday warranted the high cost of overseas phone calls. Newspapers and radio were the sole source of news for many years, but today you can follow what is happening, in real-time, just by glancing at your phone. Small children confidently use portable devices and use their favorite apps. We really have experienced some extraordinary changes in our lifetime!

Technology has helped to change our concept of retirement

This amazing revolution may seem a little daunting to some baby boomers.  But many others recognize how technology can help them in their next stage of life.

These technological advancements have created great opportunities for us all. We can create a new way of working from home on our own terms. It just requires learning some new skills to complement the skills you already have. Many older people around the world have created very successful businesses by learning these new skills. This interview with my friends Chris and Susan Beesley may open your eyes to possibilities you have never considered.


The world has changed, is continuing to change and all that is great news for those of us who are excited by the possibilities it opens to us. As a result, the reality and definition of retirement has changed for many people.

Next Post: Planning to Retire? Five Issues You Must Discuss With Your Partner

Retirement planning guide

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Jenni Proctor

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