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This Is Our Time of Freedom

By Ardith Bowman July 29, 2023 Mindset

Many people in the life phase after full-time work use the word “freedom” to describe their experience. When we dig deeper, we find that there are different explanations of what freedom really means to each of us. I am curious about what is true for you.

Is This a Time of Freedom for You?

Freedom may not be how you would describe your life after full-time work and other life responsibilities. For some, responsibilities continue, such as caring for a family member or even raising grandchildren. For others, it may feel as though there is no longer a purpose.

You may have a full life just taking care of your own wellness. For about 30% of our generation of women, loneliness defines this phase. What are some of the words you use to describe what this phase of life is like for you?

How Do You Define Your Freedom?

If you do identify with the notion that this phase is a time of freedom, stop and reflect on what you mean by that. Is it “freedom from” earlier responsibilities, or is it “freedom to” create life? Survey evidence indicates that our generation is split 50-50 between these two definitions of freedom.

Freedom “From”

One group defines freedom as no longer having the work and family responsibilities of earlier life phases. For my husband, it would be freedom from getting up at 5:30 to make it to his first meeting. It may be freedom from a long commute, or from work travel, or from a bad boss or co-worker. It may be freedom from having little personal time.

It appears that there is gratification in taking note of what negatives are no longer present. So, it is possible to relax in life enjoying the absence of what was not pleasurable.

Freedom “To”

The other group defines freedom as being free to accomplish/create/be. When I interviewed a few women about what freedom means to them, they used the word “choice” in their explanations. It is freedom to choose the life you want to live; it might be for the next five years or for just today. The point is that they get to decide. On the surface, this sounds easy. Right? In fact, it often is challenging.

In the beginning, taking your power and choosing what you want can feel foreign. We women often are not very practiced at doing this. Two women I spoke with talked about how they are learning how to choose by getting to know themselves, that they deserve to live the life they want, and take their power to choose.

Sometimes this learning requires setting new boundaries in relationships; sometime personal time and space is needed. Certainly, you must be in touch with your own inner wisdom. You might find this short meditation helpful to begin to know your inner voice.

Both Are True

Of course, there is truth in both perspectives about freedom. Yet, when you consider the qualities of the life you desire, there is value in emphasizing the perspective that serves what you want. I have a personal bias that I will explain. I’d love to hear if you experience it differently or likewise.

My sense is that the “freedom from” perspective may serve the early months of post full-time work. In this early phase of transition, you are letting go and perhaps allowing yourself to relax at last. You get to feel what it is like to not be driven by a work schedule.

Do you think there is some incentive to stay in this phase and not move into the “freedom to” perspective? Or perhaps, you moved immediately into the ‘freedom to’ perspective?

Personally, I stayed in the ‘freedom from” stage less than six months. My mind went from relishing that I didn’t have work obligations to considering what it is I did want as my life. Exploring this question turned out to be quite a journey; I don’t think there is one destination. It is the freedom to explore, adapt and grow as we go. Age 70 probably will look different from age 85 – adapt!

The ‘freedom to’ perspective is forward-looking and expansive. Even if I face physical hurdles someday, I truly believe this perspective will help me focus on what is possible. That is good for health, well-being, and happiness.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you left full-time work? Do you feel you are free from work or free to do life your way? What are your thoughts and personal experiences?

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I thought I would retired from my full time job at 60 and expected to spend more time at home but then circumstances changed, Covid19 arrived and I started to work part time. This May at 66 yrs I finally got there after working for 45 yrs I finally retired and I am loving every minute!
The freedom it has given me to enjoy the rest of my life is wonderful. Of course I still have commitments looking after my family, disabled husband of 20 yrs and my Autistic grandson for 10 yrs. I love my family and don’t class that as a job.
But I dont have to roll out of bed at 5am anymore and work an 8 hour shift.
I told them that I had made a plan and I was going to enjoy myself. I’ve just enrolled to study textiles at an Independent college, something I wanted to do when I left school. I’ve joined an African Drumming group to keep my brain working and I’m walking in the countryside every day to keep fit and travelling when ever I get the chance? Bliss!
My Grandson starts college in September so fingers crossed it will all work out fine? I saw my parents both work hard and never live to retire, so I’m going with the flow and making the most of it!

Ardith Bowman

Great job knowing what will bring your life satisfaction…LOVE that you are studying textiles because that is what you want to know more about. Maybe even create one day?

Your grandson and husband know they are blessed to have you in their lives. You are a beacon for other caregivers who may have lost themselves in the giving. Drum on!


I’m finding it hard to find my purpose after giving up full time job. I have a part time job that I really enjoy and also run an occasional dance class but feel slightly unfulfilled. Have a lovely husband who is still working, we don’t have children and are happy with that but I think grandchildren can fill a life up big time! I need to address how to be semi-retired and being fulfilled. I also volunteer so it’s not as if I’m not trying! I don’t like the word retired by the way, it lumps people in the category of old and I don’t do old.

Ardith Bowman

Hi Jena,
I don’t use the word retire anymore either. That is why I focus on fulfillment “after full-time.”

Frame your feeling of not being fulfilled as a message that there is something more for you. It needs to come from deep in you…from the heart. In fact, it is fabulous you can feel it!

We are so used to being outer directed – to “know” what to do because that is what is expected. What is possible for you if you let go of any expectations and become an explorer in your own life?

How long have you been away from full-time work?

Karen Jennings

I finally retired from full-time teaching for elementary school. Finally because I had thought I had retired at sixty-two, thought I could make it and it was difficult. So back to work I went and this time, the real deal! This past year was a very rough time for teaching since I allowed myself one year and if things worked out, maybe a second year. Nope, between getting up at 430am to prepare for work which included making copies while eating breakfast or fixing breakfast to take with me to school by six am to make copies. I had to be standing at my classroom door at 7am! On top of that, six and half hours of doing lesson plans, plus behavior problems, all combined to major stress, burn out and the decision to retire. I went through June and part of July just getting over the stress. Now, I can enjoy my crafts, church activities and just relax! It is freedom for me, my schedule, my agenda, my time.

Ardith Bowman

Enjoy this first phase of freedom, Karen! I can only imagine how stressful it was to be ready to leave AND to navigate Covid. Wow.

Listen for what it is you sense you want for you… is the time to flourish!


It’s early on for me and the main thing is having the time flexibility. If I want to go to a lecture in the middle of the day I can. If I want to take a vacation I can do it any time of the year (although I’m restrained by other people’s schedules if I travel with them).

Ardith Bowman

Hi Ava,
It still surprises me that I can go hiking during the week and not only the weekends….Habits are hard to break.

Once you settle in, listen for any yearnings……now is the time to follow them.

I’m chuckling, because I still find myself at Costco on a weekend with the crowds, thinking “Why did I do this when Monday would have been fine?” ;-)


ellen kelly

I left a horrible work situation, then after a few weeks of sitting in the corner and tugging on my ear I began a part time career as a freelance writer. I was 58 at the time and was looking forward to writing full time but at about the same time my daughter became a single mom. She had 4 little guys between almost 2 and 7, quite a nandful! Anyway I had the responsibility of the boys until a couple of years ago when the youngest was old enough to get to school himself – he was about 12. I will never regret those days, we had so much fun redoing the things we did when our own kids were growing up but the grandsons went home at night and were at their home on weekends. It was a perfect transition. They are all grown now, from begining high school to university. Together we did a pretty good job and now freedom involves quilting, some writing, taking care of my husband who is a bit disabled and enjoying my pooch. I am free to do as much or as little as pleases me. The lottery would be nice but we’re just fine.

Ardith Bowman

Big hugs from another hands-on Grandma, Ellen –
I know you made a difference in the lives of your grandsons.
Do you still have that urge to spend more time writing? My desire to live full on is an inspiration to my 21-year-old grandson….He has even thought about what he thinks he will do in our stage of life.


The Author

Dr. Ardith Bowman is a woman-centered coach, advancing the positive aging movement. Her mission is to empower women aged 60 and beyond to live with fulfillment throughout life. She will walk beside you, providing unwavering support and guidance as you navigate your path into more fulfillment and vitality. Find her at Becoming You After 60.

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