The word ‘retirement’ has been in our vocabulary since we began saving for it.  At that time, retirement was viewed as some sort of to far in the future to understand or even want to give much thought to.  It was something for old people.  Something one does when our career ends and we fade off into the sunset.

Merriam Webster defines retirement as- withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from active working life. Or, the age at which one normally retires. To retire is defined as (Merriam Webster)- to withdraw from one’s position or occupation: conclude one’s working or professional career.  Whatever definition that resonates with you, each definition views retirement as an ending, conclusion or artificial finish line.  We tend to associate our thoughts with these definitions.

Some people have offered that we should retire the word retirement.  Change it to something else, and words like rewirement and retirementality have been used by authors in titles of books and articles.  Many of my colleagues at the Retirement Coaches Association don’t like the term and have debated other possible terms to use. The term retirement, however, isn’t going away.  Look at how much the term is used throughout society, whether in the financial services industry, corporate America or in the media.  The word is here to stay.

How about we change the definition of retirement?  Perhaps not the official definition that is in the dictionary- that also will be difficult to do.  Changing the definition of something, our personal definition of something, begins with how we frame our thoughts and actions- our responses to these thoughts.

Do we view retirement as an ending to something?  Or, do we take a more positive view and view it as a time to do something in addition to our occupation, something related to our occupation or industry (but different), something we are more passionate about, something we would like to see changed, something we would like to make better.  You get the point, there are a lot of somethings!  This is a time of transition where you can make these things happen.

The vision of our future takes some planning, both from a financial standpoint and from a personal perspective to figure out what these things are and what is involved. Oftentimes, the NON-financial aspects take more thought and introspection. It takes planning, and most importantly, it takes follow-through.  Sometimes a little guidance helps too.

In a recent interview on the Today Show, John Mellencamp was asked, at age 67, if he ever thinks about retiring.  His response (I’m paraphrasing the best I can recall): “Retirement is an ending, a word for a slow death. There’s no retirement in me. Nope, they’ll have to drag me off stage. As long as people show up to see me, I’m playing.”

Here is a link to the interview.

I love his perception of retirement and hope more of us can have this positive outlook and continuing to move full-steam ahead. Moving at the pace he wants and choosing to do what he is passionate about.  What he also discusses in the interview is his art.  He has been painting since he was younger and spends more time on this when he is away from performing his music.  He is also putting together a musical about the song Jack and Diane. His purpose and what drive  him now is his art.  Music, art and the musical continue to excite him and motivate him as he continues to create something new.

There is another great quote in the interview.  Author John Steinbeck, in the Grapes of Wrath, said “You’re bound to get idears when you go thinkin’ about stuff.”

I think that is what all of us need to do as we approach our retirement- and each of us will have our own definition of retirement but also are able to define our own retirement.

What ideas will you find to create your ideal retirement “when you go thinkin’ about stuff?”

Contact me if you would like to discuss your ideas or if I can help you think about stuff!