There’s a quiet movement afoot to recreate what it means to be ‘retired’. We have more time to play with than previous generations since we are (on average) living longer. A lot more time. At 60-65 some of us have another third of our lives to come. So what are we going to call it and what are we going to do with it?
Retirement – the third act
Reshaping our thinking about what’s to come is essential – now we have the possibility of 30+ years ahead. It’s useful to think of this time like the third act of a play. This is when we can resolve the loose ends and the tensions of the first two acts – and answer the riddles of life. We went to school, grew up, and established ourselves as adults – act one. We grew our friendships and intimate relationships, some had families. We worked, had careers. We gathered possessions and created a home – act two. The third act (retirement) then, offers time to complete things. Time to re-assess what’s important. To re-balance: have more time, give back in some way, and return to our personal interests.
Fewer obligations provides the opportunity to ‘re-wire’. To rebalance priorities and re-shape the mix of daily activities. There’s more time for relationships. There’s space to explore interests, take up new opportunities. There’s time to allow a new sense of purpose to emerge.
For some people this might be intimidating. It’s daunting to think about leaving behind the structured workday. How will we get enough ‘people action’ when the myriad of work interactions has gone?
It can be hard. Some who have not considered their retirement lifestyle feel at a loose end. That they are loosing their mental sharpness. This can create tension in relationships. Rather than address the issue, some even return to work.
To have a plan for the third act, for re-wiring – to sketch out your retirement – offers a fresher way.
Lifters, not leaners
‘So much to do, so little time!’ some retirees say. What are they doing that makes them so busy? Using work experience to mentor students or early career professionals. Supporting a sporting or hobby club. Caring for family members. Starting a second career, sometimes called an encore career. Working in a community group, or a not-for-profit organisation as a volunteer.
Mature aged Australians are ‘lifters not leaners’. We contribute a staggering $65.7 billion per annum to the Australian social and economic fabric. This is through unpaid work: volunteering and caring for family members. (National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre)
There’s also time to pursue interests that have been on the back burner. To become an entrepreneur, to write a book, to tackle an ambitious trek. There’s time to travel.
At the quieter end of the scale, there is more opportunity to reflect on life. To become aware of the preciousness of each day and each moment. To allow a stillness to develop within us, to experience peace and quiet joy.
Many different names are being used or retirement – “refire”, “rewire” and “third act”. The real question is not what to call it, but what it will look like for each of us.
Taking time to design a lifestyle to suit your needs means you can go into retirement prepared. And possibly recreate yourself.
Start designing your unique retirement lifestyle using the free Heydays Roadmap to Retirement. It provides tips on how to design different lifestyle aspects and indicates what to consider, and when.