Even as we Americans are living longer, healthier lives well into our advanced years, the notion of retirement eludes definition more now than ever. The United Nations claims that those of us lucky enough to reside in the “more developed” world can expect lifespans well into our 80s. Under present expectations of traditional retirement from ages 62 to 65 years-old, we are on notice that our leisure could extend for 20 full years or more. Millions internationally retire even earlier.
So if we can look forward to having loads of high-quality, unencumbered time on our hands, retiring minds want to know – what will we do? Certainly, we collectively imagine a time when the routine troubles of the day are replaced with a greater focus on those things which we chose to undertake. But, is it possible to eliminate the mundane? Or, would we even want to if we could? It seems that I enjoy the routine of a morning coffee at home more now than the diversity (and inconsistency) of a different ritual every day.
Is retirement the absence of work? Can we commit to the action of no action? Experts on such matters argue that those happiest post-formal-career are those among us who immediately turn their attentions to other projects. Meaning, one can surmise, that something is life and nothing is death. Maybe imagined another way, we should march forward with a plan for the time after retirement that is as intentional as the time we spent in the work-a-day world. Golf, part-time work, and volunteerism can serve to fill time. But satisfaction in these activities seems to come more from our objective in doing them than in the amount of time we spend pursuing. Can it be enough to pick a date without making a plan?