Baby Boomers are heading into retirement in droves. Each day, about 10,000 close the doors to their offices for the last time. But, unlike generations before them, they can now look forward to potentially decades of vital life ahead of them. They represent the healthiest and longest living generation ever—translating to endless prospects for vivacity and opportunities in their next phase of life.
In this new era, it’s time to retire the word “retirement.” Its connotation of removing ourselves from the mainstream and biding time with card playing and porch sitting is a throwback. A better term for this stage of life is “ReVitalment”—reflecting a time of meaning, purpose and fun, and for activating the best part of you.
However, many in the 55-plus age range are daunted by the thought of 24-7 freedom. They can’t fathom how to replace the purpose and structure their careers offer. For these people who are about to exit the workforce, a process of self-inquiry and investigation can help in defining what will bring them the most satisfaction in this coming stage of life.
Use these tips to reinvigorate the retirement paradigm and use your gifts of time, energy and experience to the fullest:
1. Take an “inside-out” perspective.
Throughout our careers, we’ve focused on being responsible and hardworking. We concentrated on qualities shaping us from outside forces, spending much of our energy on how society tells us to live. But now we can shift our focus to those personal preferences that we’ve had to ignore or tamp down as professionals. Now we can operate from our essentialselves. This means we can acknowledge, embrace and give expression to our inner gifts. Perhaps it’s deepening our spiritual or creative sides, or reconnecting with family and friends who may have slipped from our busy lives.
2. Cultivate a new spirit of exploration and enrichment.
Ask yourself: What are the hobbies or experiences you’ve always wanted to pursue, but never felt you had time for? Have you missed having moments for reflection? Now you can take up journaling, meditation or memoir writing. Are you a people person who thrives on social activities? Join a hiking club, a discussion group, or take part in Meet Up gatherings. This is our opportunity to embrace the new — for no other reason than pure enjoyment and enrichment.
3. Explore ways to apply your skills and abilities.
After decades of honing our skills and expertise, many of us are reluctant to walk away from applying them. Rather than abandoning those aspects of our careers that we truly enjoy, we can look for new ways to use them. Volunteering as a part-time mentor or trainer for entry-level or mid-management employees in our former or a similar organization shares our talents in fulfilling roles. Many in the health, education or other fields find exciting places to extend their vocations in less committed roles.
4. Give time and attention to your physical wellbeing.
We live in a youth-oriented culture where the messages to look younger are profound. But, removed from the professional world, the pressures to battle ageism can fall away. At the same time, our freedom from work life allows us time to give our bodies the attention they deserve. Getting into a daily exercise regimen helps give us energy, improves sleep and fends off numerous health issues. With more time to make healthful meals, we can improve our diets. We can also pay better attention to staying well hydrated — a key health component in our later years.
5. Find ways to leave a legacy.
Whether in our own communities or in far-flung regions of the world, endless issues need attention. What issues in our world beckon to you? Online resources abound for finding ways to help. Giving back may just be the secret to living a life that’s not only happier, but healthier, more productive and more meaningful. A study published in BMC Public Healthconcluded that taking time to volunteer could reduce early mortality rates by 22 percent. The other advantage of volunteer work is that it can provide structure that some people crave after leaving the workforce.
Imagine a full and rich life for yourself that includes enjoying time with your loved ones, taking care of your mind and body, and feeling good by giving back. This is what your ReVitalment can look like. Enjoy this chance to explore new realms of yourself and the world around you.
Joan Tabb is a career and executive coach, and founder and principal of Greatin8Coaching.com. She is a popular blogger at Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice. Joan brings a 20-year leadership career from Apple, 3Com, Intel, Memorex and several start-ups to her focus on empowering people in transition. Building Blocks for the New Retirement follows her first book, Great in 8: Job Seeking Skills.