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.
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?
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.
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!
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.