So here I go onto MY Next Chapter in life. It used to be called retirement but, for many of us, that term is no longer acceptable. We like to think retirement is a word for old people, not us Baby Boomers.
Baby Boomers Moving On
As a social group, we, Baby Boomers, redefined the American ideals regarding careers, science, technology, self-reflection, and so much more. After all, we were the hippies, the yuppies, the proud spoiling parents, and the high-producers.
Now at 66, the time has come for me to move on to my next phase of life. But the big question is, “what the hell is that next phase?” When someone asks what I do, I love to say, “Nothin.” Just to confuse them. However, I’m at the gym 3-4 days per week, maintain a blog and a podcast, help my wife in her consulting business, manage my son’s business, play Mr. Mom, counsel people with life issues, paint, and travel. Whew! Doesn’t sound much like “retirement” does it? Or, does it?
Strategy or Something Else
In this enigmatic life-change there is one truth I have stumbled onto: the process I used to get me where I am now will not get me where I want to go in my future. Strategic goals do not provide solution. Talk about a paradigm shift, this is the biggest I’ve faced yet.
It took me more than one year to figure that out. I’m a “strategist.” I served as a corporate business consultant for crying out loud. I created strategies and plans, and then assisted in the implementation of those strategies. I got things done! So, naturally, I used the same tactics to plan my new life after normal employment. Oops!
I took a two-day personal retreat, wrote a mission, including about a half dozen major areas, followed by strategies and plans for each. OMG. I was attacking the Next Chapter exactly as I had done in business.
It took me about 1½ years to conclude that process was loony. What I needed was not strategy but freedom. Yes, freedom, to finally be the unique me in the process of “doin nothin.” At the risk of being overly trite, I found it essential to discover who I wanted to be in old age.
And in order to do that, I had to almost completely lose “strategy” and strengthen my ability…
- To listen to my inner voice(s),
- To follow my intuition as much or more than my logic,
- To be even more open to the words of wise people (famous or not),
- To dismiss my great need to be great, and embrace my need to be a simple lover of a simpler life—of every single moment in that life.
IXNAY on Retirement
Yesterday a friend and I discussed the huge need for re-naming and norming Boomer Retirement. It is certainly not the Webster definition of retirement, “the act of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.” The first half is accurate, but the second half, “ceasing to work,” does not fit. Most Boomers I know have little desire to cease working.
So, what’s the name of this Next Chapter—the chapter of old age before old, old age sneaks up on me? This chapter will continue, at minimum, until my mid 80’s, almost 20 more years. That’s a long time…
I don’t have a name for this chapter yet but some attributes of the new model for working might be…
- It may or may not be monetized.
- It is generally generated by my own self.
- It is (or should be) both pleasurable and fulfilling.
- Flexible hours are preferred.
- It contributes to something that I consider significant.
- It is consistent with my talents, gifts and desires.
In each day is planted “a seed for tomorrow.” Just how and where that seed sprouts I do not know today, but the results will become evident as time passes and I maintain some diligent (yet not anal) observing and paying attention to life as it occurs.
Listen to Your Inner Voice
Allow Your Intuition to Emerge
And… Pay Attention
Your Next Chapter Can Be the Best Yet
Photo courtesy of PongsakornJun at istockphoto