How do we really know when it’s time to retire? What images do you have of the term “retirement?” To some it means enjoying life and golfing every day. For others, it means moving to a warm climate in places like Florida and Arizona.

Some people have a foreboding vision of cotton-head hell and early-bird dinners. Many more experience a crippling fear of reduced income, getting old and being left behind.

There’s a lot riding on making that big leap into the next stage of our lives. Big life changes are scary things to think about. They can often paralyse us with fear of the unknown. We look in the mirror and ask, “Am I ready to do this?”

Nagging Questions for a Retirement Life

Here are some of the questions that may stress you at night.

  • Who will I be without my business card?
  • Can I survive without the big pay cheque and perks?
  • Will I lose the friendship of my colleagues if I leave my job?
  • Will I get old and fat in my sweat pants?
  • How will I spend my days?
  • What else am I good at doing?

These are all legitimate concerns we need to come to terms with. The first step is to be brutally honest with ourselves. We have to admit just how much our ego is fighting against our inner voice. Then we need to make a plan. Without one, things will surely all fall apart.

Way Back in the Olden Days

The word ‘retirement’ may have been the appropriate term for the men who ruled the ranks for generations. After years of loyal service, they simply disappeared with their gold watches into that great abyss of black knee socks, white shoes and polyester pants. But the woman of today is a new breed of corporate citizen.

So perhaps it’s time for us to lead the charge and find a different word for this important life transition and leave the old definition behind.

Changing the Narrative

The dictionary defines the word “retirement” as, “withdrawal into privacy or seclusion.” Are you kidding me? With so many vibrant boomers making the leap into the golden years, the term “retirement” itself needs to be retired.


We need to re-imagine a more modern term that reflects our arrival at a well-earned destination. So with this in mind, why not create a new word and call it our “arrivement” instead?


Survival of the Fittest

I was a women executive in the corporate ranks. My career was often fraught with the usual debilitating impacts of stress and political agendas. Many of us were pioneers in making significant cracks in those glass ceilings. This was especially true in industries where men were traditionally king. Good for us, ladies!

But even today, many women in the workforce find that staying alive can be an effort in tough survival. Women working at senior levels continue to be covertly punished by disconnects in gender communication. We have always been at a disadvantage, disabled by our inability to manipulate casual deal making at the urinal.

We worked damn hard to get where we are in life. So the concept of leaving it all behind can be both intriguing and unnerving. We deserve everything we want to do with our lives, so let’s get on with it.

Here Are 7 Steps to Reaching Your Own Personal “Arrivement”

  1. Follow your instincts and be true to your inner voice
  2. Ignore the doubts of others around you and be your own role model
  3. Make a list of the big and little things you still want to do with your life
  4. Prepare for the next step by taking courses or volunteering in your areas of interest, while you are still working
  5. Talk to your financial advisor about your plans and find ways to live within your future income
  6. Be gentle with yourself and don’t wait until you’re burned out
  7. Make the break and enjoy the rest of your life doing what you love

An important thing to note is that “arriving” at this stage of your life doesn’t mean you need to stop working. It might mean staying where you are if you love your job. It could mean reducing your hours to pursue other interests. The important thing is that you follow your bliss and shift gears into something close to your heart.

You might want to choose a quiet life of good books and family. Perhaps you’d prefer working at a job at an art gallery, volunteering at a hospice, becoming an actor, going back to school or joining the circus. It’s all good because your life belongs to you. And you deserve the joy that will come when you find the ways and means to go for it!

On a Personal Note…

I am now a whopping eighteen years into my “arrivement” and I have never looked back. I followed my writing dreams. I have enjoyed many travels with my husband, and feel blessed to have time to spend with my daughter and granddaughter.

In a word… life is beautiful when you enjoy every moment, regardless of aging issues or physical limitations. The important lesson I have learned is to say YES to the things I want to do and a big fat NO to the things I don’t. And with each passing year, I’m thankful for this remarkable gift of new beginnings.

Are you ready to take the leap into your “arrivement” or are you already there? What is your favorite word for retirement? Share your story in the comments below. Let’s start a conversation.

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