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The Work Hard – Retire Hard Myth

By Ardith Bowman December 06, 2022 Lifestyle

Many of us grew up in an era where the accepted approach to life was to work really hard to be successful at our chosen role and take care of responsibilities. Then, like magic, at 65 we get to stop and make up for all the “fun” we put off and take the relaxation we deserve. My parents did that, but it really didn’t turn out as they imagined. I thought that is what I was going to do. Not anymore.

Let’s unpack this.

The World Has Changed

In western cultures we are living longer and retiring earlier than in the past. If we stop working at 65, we are likely to have a reasonably healthy 20-30 years to go! That is why we call this the third phase of life… it literally can be 1/3 of your life.

Is kicking back with the purpose of taking it easy how you want to spend this phase of your precious life? Maybe your answer is “Yes.” Still, think it through. It turns out that this is not a good thing for our well-being nor for our society – we make a difference.

From a personal perspective, a sense of purpose is one of the most important elements contributing to vitality and happiness. Loving your life and being happy affect your mood, health, cognitive resilience, and sense of well-being. How can you create that in your life – from the heart?

Society Is Poised to Change

Remember that we invented Social Security 100 years ago because people generally did not live much past 65. Not so today! The world needs us. Our economy needs us to continue to contribute in some way.

There is a growing movement for business to reframe the notion of retirement and offer more flexible options for employees. Our knowledge and wisdom are needed.

Throw out the old stereotype that older workers are not effective. In fact, teams that include older workers are more effective than those that don’t. We have wisdom and acumen to share. We are capable, creative, with many advanced cognitive and organizational abilities not yet honed by younger people.

This does not mean staying “in the grind” of doing something you don’t enjoy. This is our time of freedom to create. We deserve to be happy. I know I am done with 60-hour weeks! And to wake up each day ready to live with heart is the best thing ever.

Some of us love what we do and enjoy continuing in some fashion. For others, this phase of life is finally the time to pursue the passion long ignored or to discover your creative spark. This is how we live healthier, happier, and longer.

For the generations that follow us, seeing examples of what a reframed third phase of life can be will help to transform our work culture. They can look ahead to anticipate what they might create during their third phase of life. They will see the third phase as one of creativity, vitality, and freedom – in contrast with today’s media messaging.

It is predicted that many of our current Gen Z will live beyond 100 years, just as many of us are living longer than our parents. Maybe a phased “retirement process” could become normal. For now, let’s just do that for ourselves.

Financing for Three Decades

Then there is the obvious consideration. Money. Surveys indicate that many of us have NOT saved enough to retire in ease for three decades. If you need some income to manage expenses, rather than slip into any work, ask yourself what has personal meaning for you that you would love?

Why not make an offer to an employer that you would like to work for? Maybe you want to work three days a week. Or just half days. Or create your own business!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What is your vision for your third phase of life? Make it so. Share your ideas you may help a sister as she navigates this time of life. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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I have now been unemployed/retired for two years and I am so bored by the non-stimulating activities I have on my calendar. Aside from the one or two European trips I take my life is dwindled down to fitness classes (stretch and Zumba), watercolor painting, coloring, housecleaning, solitaire, gardening, jigsaw puzzles, online surveys and NONE of this is stimulating enough to fill the void of my professional career. Most of my friends are still working and those who are not are occupied with grandchildren to care for. I have no children so that is not an option. I call retire ‘retarded’ to my friends and tell them to work as long as they can because the other side is BOARING for those of us with no family to care for. I feel like I am really boring and have nothing to contribute to conversations. Nobody wants to hear about my boring days and activities. What’s in the cards for the balance of the ‘golden years’? How do I gain back the challenging and stimulating life I had as a professional manager in the work world?

Ardith Bowman

Hi Lyn!
I sent you a reply by email because I couldn’t get on the site yesterday. I hope you received it! Did you read my new article about the retirement transition? It is here:
It sounds like you still are in the “middle” phase of transition – searching, noticing, exploring. Stay true to you! There is something in you calling. Ardith


My vision is that people over age 50 and centered around Birth Year 1956 are a respected part of society, and products that are designed for our fun and peripatetic lifestyle abound. I have named this vision #TwiftiesLifeStyle, and my #Twifties brand concept is easy to find on google and Instagram. Furthermore, for the “third phase” of our lives, we are doing stimulating and fun work as entrepreneurs, using those skills and that knowledge we have gained.

Since our society at large does not yet fully value our wisdom, an ideal solution is what I call #TwiftiesHiringTwifties. Yes, just as it sounds, we make our wisdom into services that can be hired out by the hour, and we target people like us, in our age cohort, as clients. Who knows what we need and want more than people who share our experiences? It is simple Marketing 101!
By working hourly at a fair rate as entrepreneurs, we control our own schedules and scope of work, which is one of the most important and enjoyable aspects of life!

My Instagram is where I share my ideas about #Twifties. Please come on over and follow me. Instagram is perfect for our age group. Much simpler and nicer than FB, and abounding with new creative ideas in all fields. Also request my private account if you like.

If you want to work or hire, post on Instagram and use the hashtag #TwiftiesHiringTwifties . It is so easy. No forms, emails, fees. Just simple sharing. I call it #TwiftiesSharingWhatWorks in my visionary utopian society. Love to see you there.

And a special welcome to all people born in or around 1956! Like me!

Lauren Teton
Visionary, Founder of Twifties
on Instagram as MsTwifty


Ardith Bowman, the author of this wonderful article, is doing exactly what I describe above as #TwiftiesHiringTwifties !

Ardith Bowman

Great idea Lauren! Love to hear how this unfolds. Actually, YOU are doing what I am getting at. You are using your talents in a way that works for you and that you are having fun with. This is the only life we have, so let’s have a good time with it!


If you retire at 65, you will be lucky to live another 15 years, and very lucky to live another 20. So it’s not nearly 1/3 of your life, more realistically it’s the last 15-20% of your life. Get real please.

Ardith Bowman

Hi Gerry,
Thanks for your comment. Actually, on average, life expectancy at 65 is 21 years now for western women. Then we add in the factor of being a healthy 65 in the first place. That puts us on the high side of that average (more than 21 years). That is important for each of us to acknowledge. Research has shown that we can add 3-5 years to our life by embracing the beliefs and lifestyle I discuss in many of my articles too. So, some of us will certainly make it into our 90’s, but of course not everyone.

Statistics have changed over time…hooray! I wish you to blast through your expectations and to love every minute of it.

truly appreciate your comment…It reminds me to explain this more fully. Thanks! Ardith


Gerry, it depends on how you take care of yourself. Basically, what you eat and drink. Good health to you!

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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