The New Retirement

I went to a wedding recently and was seated next to a charming gentleman, who politely inquired about my occupation. When I told him that I worked with Baby Boomers who did not know what they wanted to do when they grew up, and did non-financial retirement coaching, he gleefully informed me that he was retired. When I asked him for how long, he told me that he had now been retired for 15 years and had not worked a day for pay in that time, now he only worked for charitable causes. In his former life, he had been a high-powered executive at a very large, well-known corporation.

During my fourteen years of working as a retirement coach, I have only had four clients that choose not to work for pay. So I was quite intrigued to hear this man’s story. After he retired, he went to clown school! He told me how he had researched the few schools out there to find what suited his desires and then took on clown school with the same zest as he had with his corporate endeavors. His agenda after clown school was to utilize his new skill as a clown for the local children’s hospital. That was most fulfilling and brought him a great amount of joy, while he brought a laugh and a smile to those kids.

His next educational adventure was to attend culinary boot camp, something he had wanted to do for a long time, but had never had the time. This training also brought him great joy, just in another way. Cooking for his family and friends is now a weekly occurrence.

What impressed me most about this man was that he had clearly made a successful transition from his corporate life into his retirement. He appeared happy, content and full of life. In fact, he possessed great Luster, one of the words Dr. Johnson uses in his book, The New Retirement, to describe those who are living in the present with” inner radiance, glow and personal brilliance” and not living on their past laurels.

What a great role model this gentleman is for his peers. In fact, I think I will call him up and see if he would love to join me at the next workshop I present. I know that his story would really enthuse and inspire many people, just as it did me. And I am debating whether to ask if he would wear the clown suit!

How will you keep your luster in your retirement years? If you could take some fun, yet meaningful new training or schooling what would it be in? And if you never had to work for pay again, what would you do fill your time, and how would you “BE”?

Joanne Waldman, M.Ed., PCC, LPC, NCC, NCGC, Master Career Counselor

My AARP Card

I have been waiting with great anticipation, for it to come in the mail, just like my ten-year-old waits for her Disney magazine. It has not come yet, but I know that I will feel validated and special when it arrives. I am waiting for my AARP card and the day in a few weeks that I turn 50 years old or young I would rather say.

I have been telling people that I am already 50, insinuating in conversations. I am like the child that says she is 6 ¾ wanting to be older and reach that next level. In September, I went to a birthday party for a friend’s husband. He turned 50 and felt awful about it. She threw him the surprise party to cheer him up. I do not understand his attitude at all. I can’t wait to be 50! I feel that it is like a marker in time, that the next 50 years are going to be so much more interesting, so much more full, so much possibility. Don’t get me wrong; the first 50 have been pretty amazing. But as we know, we supposedly gain some sort of wisdom as we age, and that wisdom is what is making the next 50 so enticing. It is true, that somewhere around 50, plus or minus a few years we start to see retirement as something within proximity, as opposed to something so far away. And although I am not sure that I will ever really retire, I was one of the lucky ones that got to change my lifestyle to my own design when I was in my mid-forties. This or some derivative is what I will do until I cannot do it any longer. What will change is my lifestyle once my parenting and eldercare duties are fulfilled. And I am starting now to plan how that will be different. But until that time, I am going to relish being fifty. One of the reasons that this is such a big milestone is that my father died when he was three months past his 50th birthday. It is hard to believe that I am now the same age as he was when his life ended. And the last conversation I had with him plays constantly in my brain. He had not done everything that he wanted to do in his short life. That inspires me to plan, to dream and to keep going. Because every day that comes three months after my 50th birthday is a gift, and one that I plan to use with wisdom and zeal.

Joanne Waldman, M.Ed., PCC, LPC, NCC, NCGC, Master Career Counselor