Stop Thinking About Retirement

Most people spend decades looking forward to retirement, ostensibly so they can stop working and start living.

But if the statistics are to be believed, it seems that retiring may be bad for your health. In fact, one British study found that, after an initial period of greater health and well-being, retirement can increase your risk of illness (physical or mental) by as much as 60%.

To truly understand the effects of retirement on our psyche, it pays to research what the word really means. Most people look forward to retirement as a time of freedom and enjoyment. But the word retire, from French retirer, actually means to withdraw.

So when we choose to retire, we are actually choosing to contract inwards and isolate ourselves from the world around us. In my opinion, once we have withdrawn from the world, the only step left is to die. But this is what many, many individuals have chosen for themselves as they enter their 60s. I would like to confront the entire concept of withdrawing in your later life. I would like to retire the concept of retirement.

Instead of withdrawing from life once you enter your 60s, here’s how to live life creatively and expansively.

Pursue a dream: Many of us pursued the careers and opportunities that were made available to us when we were young – whether that be a corporate career, motherhood, trade or profession. If you had to forgo a personal dream to follow this path, then now is the perfect time to fulfil that inspired need. Ask yourself, what did I give up earlier in life that I can now take up? Then, take real steps to pursue it. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself and, vitally, never stop learning. These days, with online courses, you can learn and become anything you desire.

Create, dammit: All of life is a creation in some respect and if you’re not creating, you’re dying. Ask yourself, how can I engage my creative energy? It may be painting, gardening, cooking, entrepreneurism or farming. Or simply be like one of my uncles, currently in his 80s, and start each day with a crossword puzzle.

Use your skills in different ways: You cannot reach your 60s without gathering valuable experience, skills and expertise. Take this time to turn your skills into new endeavors. This may come in the form of consulting, mentoring or philanthropy. The important thing is to find a sense of joy, purpose, and meaning in your daily life. Find ways to contribute – firstly, to yourself and then, to others.

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