Topic of the Week Staying Alive: Retirement, Not the End, But A New Beginning
- DO continue to work.
- DO make social connections.
- DO find a purpose or goal.
- DO find mental stimulation.
Staying Alive: Retirement, Not the End, But A New Beginning
The recent recession had it's fiercest impact on people who just retired or were on the verge of retiring. Regardless of how much planning had been put into savings, suddenly it was clear that not only wasn't it enough, but that it could all disappear in the blink of an eye. A lifetime of hard work suddenly felt inadequate. Which reminds me of Peng Xinhua a 101 year old in Lianjiang City, China. After taking a fall, she became stiff and didn't appear to have a heartbeat. As relatives and friends were washing her body before her funeral, she opened her eyes and calmly greeted them.
Ms. Xinhua wasn't ready to check out yet and neither should anyone who is nearing retirement age. Sure, retirement is probably more complicated now for most of us, but you can still take control of the process, rather than letting it take control of you and it can be a great time in your life. Here are four options to consider. The statistics I've included are from a study by Merrill Lynch.
DO continue to work. You won't be alone. The study found that the only age group where the working population grew between 2006 and 2011 was for those over 55, with over 4,000,000 added to the workforce. Our notion of a retirement mostly spent hanging out on the golf course is now out of reach for most people, many need to continue to produce income. That's why 38% of those of retirement age in the survey said they'd miss their salary the most.
DO make social connections. 34% said they'd miss making social connections the most if they left the workforce. That's why it's so important to avoid making the center of your life a recliner after you retire. La-Z-Boy might be the great name for a chair, but it's a dangerous lifestyle choice. Find areas of interest and make connections with people who share those interests and your life can be more meaningful during retirement than it was during your working years.
DO find a purpose or goal. This was the next highest response in the Merrill Lynch survey. I know a number of people who are more fulfilled in retirement than they ever experienced earlier in their career because it frees them up to invest time in the issues that they are most passionate about. Sure you're old, but it's amazing how having a goal and a purpose can shave years off your attitude.
DO find mental stimulation. Just because you're retired doesn't mean that you have to put a closed sign on your brain. Adopting a philosophy of lifetime learning can provide for many of us the first chance in our lives to study something just because we want to.
Ms. Xinhua found herself stiff and without a heartbeat, but she didn't stay that way. If she can do it at 101 years old, why can't you create a new and vibrant second act for your life?
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.