I was thrilled recently to spend time with an ex-colleague who retired 10 years ago. It was lovely to welcome her back to celebrate her contribution to our business and to reconnect with ex-colleagues. What struck me, however, was the words and reactions from those other colleagues. I first started to notice this when three or four times I overheard the phrase “I would be bored if I retired”. That got me thinking.
Now, I love to work. I really do. But given the choice I might not work at all, I would work less, or at least differently – perhaps on other projects. I look forward to when my work is done at the end of every day and each week. Because when work ends, play begins; my professional self becomes the personal me. I can garden, cook, socialise, read, write, travel, volunteer or study. Who would not want more time to do that?
What a strange state-of-affairs to think one would be bored without work when there is so much more to do in life. And I know my retired ex-colleague has a very full, vital and active life without work. I admire her for that. I started to wonder if people think they would be bored without work, are they bored now?
Now there have been times in my life when work has got in the way of life, I have had work-life imbalance and it has suffered. I haven’t had time to pursue all other interests. But those days are long gone – thankfully. If people are thinking retirement isn’t for them is there imbalance in their work and life now? Or is work their play? Are they fearful there will be an imbalance in retirement? Either way there are boundary issues for me. I think it is vital we have boundaried work and life identities. I have not met anyone in their later years who told me they wished they had worked more. Indeed, the opposite is the case.
Like many others, I am not a fan of the term ‘retirement’. It literally means to withdraw from life. When my time comes, I will not be doing that. It could be the time I take up an alternative or new work or volunteering role. It could be another degree or writing a novel. I know that doesn’t sound like a traditional retirement – to stop work and then start again. But this is the new reality of ‘retirement’, one where people have so much more they want to achieve for themselves or contribute to their communities. This is a massive shift from how things were when I was a child; have one career, stop work at 60/65, and do seemingly very little afterwards. Now it is more about phased careers, 2-3 for each of our work lifetimes, and use one’s retirement and make your own choices and achieve one’s dreams.
I think I will simply call mine ‘next’, and I will not be bored. I will have worked too hard to settle for that.