After 50 … “What’s next?”

The term that was associated with “being put out to pasture” in times past, is now having new life breathed into it, thanks to the baby boomers.

by Nancy Montani — 

A new day is dawning for retirement. 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” in times past, 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 first retirement in the United States is 57.5 years, not 62 or 65?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in the 10-year period between 2000 and 2010, the population of men aged 55 to 64 will increase by 47.2 percent; for women the increase will be 46.6 percent. In addition to these figures, in the last nine decades, longevity has increased by 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 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 reach.

Today’s 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 six 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 is next?” often is asked.

Personal responsibility for choices is important in assuring 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 to 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 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 at any age.

Do you dare to dream?


Nancy Montani, of Holistic Retirement Coaching, has a Bachelor of Science in biochemical pharmacology, is a trained spiritual director, has a certificate in transformational life coaching and is a certified retirement coach. or 480-353-1071.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 5, October/November 2006.

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