Retirement Still the 'Holy Grail' By Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.
April 16, 2009
The current economic downturn has ignited a raging debate over the future of retirement. On the one hand we find the nay-sayers who claim that retirement is dead. Retirement, they say, was an idyllic anomaly created by western culture's transition from a manufacturing to an information economy. This transition generated sufficient wealth to pay the "young-old" to stay out of the labor force so younger workers could enter and advance their careers at an ever-faster pace.
On the other side of the continuum, we find a more optimistic group who say retirement has become a permanent part of our culture and will remain the sought after mature lifestyle. These folks maintain that retirement, which they define as complete cessation of paid work, will retain its "Holy Grail" status as the premier reward for working. Retirement, they point out, will rapidly expand globally, well beyond where it began in western culture; it will quickly become entrenched in every corner of the global economy as the goal of a worker's later years.
Where do you stand on this attitudinal continuum? As for me ... I'm certainly not a nay-sayer, and I do feel that retirement will remain the sought after premium for an expanding group of workers worldwide. However, I do believe that complete cessation of work will not be the desired goal. Rather I see a new phase, or even new stage of life emerging, a stage of life I like to call the Renewal stage.
The Renewal stage begins at the point where early retirement formerly began ... probably around 50-55 years of age. At this point the majority of workers will, either by their own choice or otherwise, shift from their full-time active career and enter a new life endeavor that better aligns with their internal self ... their interior, or spiritual inclinations. This new life endeavor will take as many different forms as there are retirees. A small percentage might seek paid employment, but the majority will create life endeavors of a different sort entirely. This new "personal life endeavor" has many facets: leisure activities, life goal, life cause, life purpose, interior spiritual growth, forum for personal meaning, etc. What's important is that the retiree finds personal renewal and that this stage ushers in something entirely new, something exciting, something fulfilling, something invigorating and animating for the "retiree." But, you know what ... we'll still call it retirement; it will retain all the trapping of what we formerly called retirement ... but it will be all new.
Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.
Founder, Retirement Options, Inc
I definitely think that retirement will continue to be a highly sought after situation for people in our country. And, it's important to think about how you want your retirement spent. There's actually a senior retirement community in Tampa that has beautiful apartments and villas and supports active healthy living for seniors (www.UniversityVillage.net). It seems to me that if you can save for this kind of lifestyle then you definitely should.
Posted by: tamparaised | April 16, 2009 at 06:08 PM
Dennis Niewoehner has written a book pertaining to this very subject that I have found particularly helpful. Check out www.thetransitionbook.com
Posted by: Mary | April 27, 2009 at 10:26 PM