Retirement is a hot topic among baby boomers. For most either it’s close … or it’s here. Emily Cass writes about the impact of retirement on our identities. A graduate student at Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia, Emily is a part of Generation Y, the children of baby boomers. But to help build a better understanding within the community of boomer retirees, she writes about “The R-Word: What are people saying about retirement?”
After spending the majority of your adult life working, it is natural to ask what impact retirement might have on you. This was the focus of my conversations with recent retirees Brenda and Thomas, and soon-to-be retirees Jillian and Dianne. Here is what they had to say:
1. We are ready.
Having ticked all their boxes for financial preparedness, the decision to retire was easy. Office politics have taken away what once made work meaningful, Thomas explains. “Work is more frustrating than fun,” says Dianne. Jillian puts it simply: “I’m too old for this!”
2. We are prioritizing what is important.
The ability to focus energy and efforts on one’s self, health, friends, and family, was the biggest opportunity cited in my conversations. “Without work, I’ll be fully untethered,” says Dianne, who was looking forward to focusing on creative activities such as painting and dancing. “The number one thing I’m looking forward to is swimming in the morning!” says Jillian. These things have always been important, but adequate time wasn’t necessarily available while working. On his next vacation, Thomas is combining two interests, travel and genealogy, something he didn’t have time for before. The retirees also spoke of true enjoyment in their activities. Brenda doesn’t cook nearly as often, but when she does, she says she gets really into it because she wants to do it!
3. We will probably continue with some sort of work, by choice.
After retirement, many take on work or volunteer commitments. Though work has never been an important factor for Jillian in determining who she is, she is not 100% sure she won’t work or volunteer in some form. “I’m driven that way,” she says.
Unlike work, however, commitments must work with their schedules! This was what Thomas was looking for when he picked up seasonal work where he could work when he wanted.
4. We are not senior citizens.
Nobody identified even remotely with the term ‘senior’ or ‘elderly’ although it was challenging to think of a term that described who they felt they were. Dianne suggests she would identify with ‘Jr. Senior’, but others assert they are simply lucky! Retirement is not a choice for all. As Jillian puts it, “To have a choice is a blessing and I’m really looking forward to this next phase, I really am.”
What do you have to say to your fellow Baby Boomers about retirement?