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Retirement or Life Purpose: What Makes You Tick After 60?

By Harriet Cabelly July 20, 2021 Mindset

“I’m winding down and she’s winding up.” A comment hubby tells people all the time. Yes, he is looking to finish up his law caseload and does not take on new clients; I am excitedly growing my clientele. Every time a potential new client contacts me, I am thrilled.

We are at totally different phases of life although we are exactly the same chronological age. He talks retirement and the free time for the green courses; I talk advancement and growth of what I consider to be my life work.

Feeling Fulfilled

I am finally doing what I’ve wanted to do my whole life: have a therapy practice supporting and serving people who are experiencing grief (of all kinds). It is powerful and intimate work to journey with others as they cope and grow to rebuild their lives beyond their losses.

This is most meaningful, and I feel alive and fulfilled being engaged in it. I am blessed to have this opportunity now and I am going with it full force.

There are places in the world, such as Okinawa, that don’t even have a word for retirement. Their word is ikigai (‘icky guy’) meaning your purpose, what drives you, what you wake up to.

So whether you keep to the word and life concept of retirement or not, what is your ikigai? What moves and fulfills you? What is your focus? Are you aligned with a purpose as you are gifted time here?

The No-Retirement Zone

Most of us tend to make that demarcation between our work life and our ‘regular’ life, and that is where the retirement idea comes in, as in two separate entities. For some, like actors and entertainers, their work is their life; therefore there is no retirement.

Dancing in our seats, watching oldies and goodies rock stars performing into their 80s, dancing across the stage, is a no-retirement zone of sheer satisfaction and joy. There is no distinction between their work and life.

I recently heard psychologist Dr. Edith Eger, age 93, author of The Choice, say there is no such thing as retirement for her as this is her life – connecting and serving others in enhancing their lives. Same with existential psychiatrist Dr. Irwin Yalom, age 90.

Advancing myself by taking wonderful courses and reading and learning from the masters fills me to no end. It opens me up to more and more wanting of knowledge and skill sets.

Purpose Drives Us Onward

We don’t need work per se but we do need purpose and meaning in our lives so we don’t languish and fall prey to depression, which can happen when we go from years of routine and productivity to unstructured time and an open calendar.

No, retirement is not in my vocabulary or life now. I’m on a high, engaged in my work. And of course, as we know, when you love what you do, it’s not considered work. Holding the light of hope through my clients’ darkness, until they can begin to see once again the beauty in their lives, is sacred work and in total alignment with my purpose; and as Dr. Viktor Frankl said, it is “what life expects of me.”

Where are you on the retirement line? What fills you? What makes you feel engaged and alive? Can you describe what the work/life concept looks like for you? How do you want to shape it as you age? Please share your retirement journey story with the community!

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The Author

Harriet Cabelly is a clinical social worker and positive psychology coach. She is passionate about helping people cope and grow through their critical life-changing circumstances, guiding them towards rebuilding their lives with renewed meaning and purpose. Visit her website, and sign up to get free chapters from her book, Living Well Despite Adversity.

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