does retirement challenge us?
A. Sadler, Ph.D.
Retirement as we know it is a relatively new concept. Previous
generations didnít live long enough or couldnít afford to retire.
Most people had to keep working to survive. When the concept was
institutionalized 70 years ago, the shelf life of retirement was only a
few years, because life expectancy was much shorter. If you could make
it to 65, and most people didnít, then retirement gave you a period of
leisurely withdrawal to enjoy the last days of your life without labor.
Of course, this arrangement applied basically to men; women were mostly
kept working in the home. If work was drudgery, retirement offered a
well-earned respite for years of labor. But work has changed
drastically. The idea of retirement has not kept up with changes in work
and human longevity.
The Longevity Revolution has not only increased life expectancy by 30
years, it has changed the life course as we have known it. A new Third Age offers
unprecedented opportunities for creative growth and vital living after
50. But traditional ideas about aging and retirement fail to account for
this creative life potential. And conventional retirement ideas offer
few practical ideas to exploit this creativity. People today are
challenged to redefine retirement as a period for creative third age
living, with boundless opportunities for adventure, productivity, and
personal fulfillment. With greater life expectancy, this period could
stretch 30-40 years.
How can you tap your creative potential to redefine retirement as
the best period in your life? Nearly 20 years of longitudinal studies of
front-runners of the Baby Boom generation demonstrate how new, vital third
agers initiate and sustain a second growth. This research has
uncovered six principles of growth and renewal, which these people have
been applying to their lives and retirement. The core principle is creating
a positive third age identity that responds to profound questions:
Who do I want to become? Where am I headed? How do I find meaning and
As one man in a third age retreat commented: Now
that I am retired, I have time to pursue some big questions. Who am I
and what kind of person do I want to become? Where do I want my life to
go next? How can I find the work I really want to do in the next phase
of my life? What legacy will I leave? These are important questions
that really should be addressed in pre-retirement planning. The people
in this research have been creatively redefining retirement by
developing third age life
portfolios and third age
careers. These topics will be explored in later articles.
A. Sadler, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
Sadler is the author of
THE THIRD AGE:
6 PRINCIPLES OF GROWTH AND
RENEWAL AFTER 40.
more on Retirement:? Consult
chapters 4 and 5.
look for the next book due out in 2005!
REDEFINE YOUR RETIREMENT AND SUSTAIN GROWTH FOR A FULFILLING THIRD AGE.