Yesterday I watched a great Merrill Lynch webcast, Reinventing Retirement: Second Acts. (Thanks for the link Sara.)
Basically, it was an hour-long discussion of the question, “What do I want to be when I retire?” For a growing number of people retirement means starting a new business or career, for others the more traditional retirement job of volunteerism. It was well timed in light of my recent post asking the same question. Charlie Gibson and his panel delved into this topic well.
Anna Quindlen echoed my own thoughts. She talked about how exciting it is for boomers entering retirement to be able to ask, “What is it I always wanted to do and haven’t done yet?” As did Daniel Gilbert as he explained that after all those years of being defined by our jobs, “we have to find a new person to be, not just a new thing to do” in retirement. It’s like they were reading my mind (or my blog.)
Charlie Gibson observed that “life is dynamic, it is not static,” and Sallie Krawcheck covered the need to constantly take our temperature over the years and make adjustments to our plans as we change our desires and circumstances.
One other point I found interesting was the discussion of the difference between men and women when facing this who-do-I-want to-be part of our lives. Quindlen explained that men tend to view the progress of their lives as a ladder. When they get to the top at the end of their careers, the halt of that climb may make it hard to envision what to do next. Because, as Marc Freedman pointed out, you’re at the top of the ladder but it's leaning on the wrong wall now.
Quindlen observed that women have already had more experience reinventing themselves over their lives. Their path has been more like a circle than a ladder, perhaps temporarily exiting a career to be home with small children, maybe reentering it in a different capacity. They may work part-time, they may change careers, all while balancing child-rearing and keeping social networks together. I agree that this might make it easier for women to transition.
Anyway, go see for yourself, I highly recommend the hour of insight.
“What is it I always wanted to do and haven’t done yet?” ... I'm thinking it's almost tragic for those who are 65 years old and haven't reached this stage yet. Why wait 40 years?
Posted by: Early Retirement Extreme | June 18, 2010 at 04:46 PM
What I think is different from early retirees compared to normal age retirees (65) - is that most early retirees still ask this question where the normals don't. So I think we (especially I) have a whole different set of issues to think about than I will 20 years from now at normal retirement age when hopefully I'll have calmed down a bit. lol
I think I'm very fortunate that I don't believe that there's one BIG PURPOSE out there for us, we just kind of meander our way into things that we find fulfilling. I think you feel the same. What I do think is the case is that most people who retire early have a very keen sense of their values and what really floats their boat (particularly Jacob on the boat floating thingy) where most don't have that experience of life. So I think we are very, very fortunate in that sense. Particularly since we can 'go for it' with no expectation or caring for monetary results - how cool is that?
I've tried to explain this mindset to others younger than me, like my webmaster that's redesigning my site - I told him that if I ever made any $, I'd want it to go to outsourcing and charity, I don't care about 'monetization.' It's such an incredible feeling and one that I wish more people could experience - or even understand.
To do stuff because you want to give back to the world and don't give a damn about a return is the most awesome feeling in the world I think.
Posted by: jacqjolie | June 19, 2010 at 06:05 PM
@jacqjolie: I do feel the same. If I've got 40 or 50 years ahead of me in retirement, I'm fully expecting to find a bunch of medium sized purposes that will change as I change.
Posted by: Retired Syd | June 20, 2010 at 11:56 AM
After a month- I am thinking..."it is interesting, but where do I want to put my time." I am thinking that by September I may have an answer. Not bored yet:>)
Posted by: Janette | June 25, 2010 at 07:28 PM