When I introduce myself as a retirement coach, I find many people either steer the conversation away or tell me why they are not going to retire.

Last week I was working with a brand coach who helped me see that my desire to help people turn the last third of their lives into their best years is in direct conflict with the way many people see retirement.

Why is it that so many people do not want to look at retirement seriously? It is said that people spend more time planning an overseas trip than they do retirement.

Do we fear retirement? If so, what do we fear?

Working in the retirement space, I spend much time grappling with the word retirement, trying to find an alternative that has more relevant meaning.

My intuition tells me that currently, most people associate the word retirement with old age, frailty, loss of hearing and dementia. After all, when the retirement age was set at 65, most people only lived a year or two afterwards. How things have changed!

The Dictionary Definition of Retirement

The dictionary definition of retirement refers directly to the day when we stop working completely. Therefore, many of us are fearful, because we cannot visualize a life without work, especially if we see work as encompassing all forms of meaningful or purposeful activity.

I suppose it is my background training in occupational therapy that makes me look more broadly at the definition of ‘work.’ If we unpack it, work does not refer specifically to employment and a salary. I prefer to see it as much more.

In fact, I see work as referring to any meaningful occupation. If we look at it from this view, then employment – or running a business – is actually only one aspect of work.

So why do so many people fear retirement and see it as life grinding to a sudden halt? I recently came across a book called The 100-year life by Linda Gratton, in which her team of researchers fleeces out the prospect that in 2018, 50% of you reading this blog, stand a chance of living to 100.

This may fill you with horror, but if you could live an active, healthy, purposeful life, would that not be a bonus? You would get a chance to watch your grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren growing up.

How Do You Perceive Retirement?

So it comes back to how we perceive retirement. For me, the day that I realized I had possibly 35 years to explore doing the things I love, I started to see opportunities and was able to leave the fear behind.

As we come to leave our full-time, financially-driven employment, we can start to explore doing what we are passionate about, which gives us the opportunity to use the many years of experience and wisdom that we have (hopefully) already banked.

In fact, Linda Gratton and her team refer to a shift to a multi-stage career where the first portion is financially driven and the second is about growth and contribution.

The Possibility of an Encore Career

Many of us are embarking on encore careers, a new career or a new version of your previous career that takes you beyond 65.

Life Coaching has become my encore career and is proving to be one of the steepest learning curves I have ever been on. It is an exciting challenge, and it is what I am passionate about. Also, it allows me to weave my work schedule flexibly around my lifestyle.

Make Retirement Work for You

I would really like to see you find meaning in your retirement. This is why I have launched my online course called “Make Retirement Work for You.” It is your choice to make.

In this course, we embark on a journey to explore the new horizon that is retirement. First, you need to understand your inner core, what it is you are passionate about, what you value.

Then we go on a journey to discover how to believe in ourselves and find what it is that we love. We devote some time to understanding what work means to you, and how to re-instate balance in your life now that you are taking full-time employment out of the equation.

Finally, we move on to finding what it is that will truly light your passion, making all those extra years of living worthwhile, if you do live to 100.

Do you fear retirement? Have you always thought that once you retire there’s nothing else for you? What do you think about retirement now? Do you see it as an opportunity to do what you are passionate about? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Hilary HendersonHilary Henderson is a Retirement Coach. She brings to her coaching her experience as an Occupational Therapist as well as an entrepreneur. Her mission is to help people find relevance, purpose and meaning in their retirement years. Facebook is one way to reach out to her.

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